Paradisaical princesses and their soporific stereotype; Disney’s been dishing ‘em out for years – with a couple of minor exceptions – to the detriment of feminism and the delight of popular culture. But the heat is on (and it’s on the street)! So, to backtrack on years of princess platitude, Disney has launched a 10-point guide for would-be princesses that makes zero mention of appearance – just in time for Christmas (it’s great when being moral has a financial reward). OK, it’s not entirely about money; the posters are available via free download as well as in Disney stores; listing the following principles as essential characteristics for a modern princess:
- Care for others
- Live healthily
- Don’t judge a book by its cover
- Be honest
- Be a friend you can trust
- Believe in yourself
- Right wrongs
- Try your best
- Be loyal
- Never give up
Not bad, right? Except…serve these up with your child’s favourite Disney princess and there goes all the hard work you put in to teaching that beauty is only skin deep; you’ll merely reinforce the idea that better looking people are in fact better people. And to be fair, it’s not an assumption made up by Disney (just used and abused in a plot to take over the world). A study published by the American Psychological Association concludes that a majority of individuals assume that good-looking people are more competent, intelligent and sociable than those who are average looking.
Disney’s 10-point list is a hefty dose of mixed message; it says nothing about appearance but it is backed by Aurora, Ariel, Belle and the gang – a ‘culture of gorgeous’. It’s a relentless irony, an untruth, stoked by a filmic history of gender cliché.
Close, but not quite the cigar you were after, dear Disney.
Image Attribution: It’s Nice That (Disney posters); Dina Goldstein (Fallen Princesses photo series)
Reference: Stylist – “Appearances matter: this is how people judge you based on your face”