I’m Not Raising Princesses, I Guess

We don’t watch many kids movies in our house, and we always steer clear of the Disney ‘blockbuster’ movies. We’ve got a bunch of good reasons of our own for doing so, but other people have noticed the dubious qualities that Disney is teaching as well.

disney princess lessons

And before you go thinking that your boys are learning some wholesome values from Disney, here’s another take on it:

Disney Prince Lessons

Yes, I’ve heard people say that there are redeeming values to these movies (I won’t stoop so low as to call them films), but I don’t see them.

Your thoughts?

[via BoingBoing and the Society Pages]

[Update: Because this post has hit a nerve and spurred many many comments, I feel the need to state what I believe is obvious: I didn’t make the graphics, I didn’t come up with the text on them, and it isn’t my original idea – I merely posted them here for the humor (and because they do have an element of truth). I also don’t believe that princesses are horrible role models in general, or that Disney movies will automatically turn kids into degenerate humans. But I do believe that kids pick up way more than we would like to think, and that they learn by imitating – which they do all the time. So letting our kids watch things that we don’t want them to imitate, or that we don’t agree with, is like letting someone else raise our kids – someone we disagree with – and we avoid that scenario as well.]

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

133 thoughts on “I’m Not Raising Princesses, I Guess

  • Jen Lamb

    I have never looked at these cartoons in that way..LOL….or of having importance. hmmmm…but now that you point it out, they are sending a wrong message…

  • This is the thing my wife just detests about Disney above all else – well this and the Lion King rip off of Kimba the White Lion. The whole princess thing is so wierd anyway – it gives young women ( and you did a good job pointing out young boys too ) the wrong impression about what relationships are suppose to be about. As always, good on you Derek.

  • If Disney movies were the *only* thing influencing my kids, I might be concerned. But those movies are only a small part of our very rich lives. They are surrounded by folks living all kinds of values. Limiting access to the movies gives you the illusion that you can control which values vibe with your kids; you can’t, and why would you want to try? You might actually be raising princesses, but they’re picking up from you that being a princess is wrong, or bad, so they’ll hide that part of themselves from you. Not to mention, I’ve seen the absolute joy on little girls’ faces when they parade around in their princess costumes. It’s my job as an unschooling mom to add MORE opportunities for joy to my kids’ lives, not take them away. 

    • Derek Markham

      Caren – The whole act of parenting is tied up in attempting to control which values our kids pick up and emulate and those we wish them to avoid. We do it every single day – by restricting the language they use, or the friends they hang out with, the music they listen to, or if they go to church or not.

      I don’t have a problem with dress-up – my girls do it too – but I also make sure they do know that the book/movie ideal of a princess is a white-washed version of reality. Kings and queens rule by force, and are financed by taking from the ‘serfs’. We would be outraged if our leaders acted as kings do. All it takes is a little reading into the history of royalty (in just about every continent), and our illusion that kings, princesses, etc., are benevolent and beneficial to the people is shattered.

      As unschoolers ourselves, we believe that we can add positive influences and opportunities for our kids, leaving out the omnipresent sex, violence, greed, and gender stereotypes found in much of mainstream media. Not by taking away anything of value, but by adding an alternative point of view – one more based in equality, positivity, and integrity.

      I agree that movies are only a small part of their lives, but I also have had experiences of talking to kids about movies/cartoons, and have found that they may or may not know that movies are fake. One little boy got into a heated debate with me about how TV shows were real, not made up… And when a movie is scary, kids get scared, whether they know it’s all made up or not. So if we wouldn’t let our kids watch scary shows because of nightmares, I don’t see why we would let them watch things that continue to support negative gender stereotypes.

      Thanks for reading, and for your comment!

    • TitaniumLili

      To Caren:
      What if your kids were hanging around people who told them girls were nothing without a male and that valuing themselves otherwise wouldn’t be in their best interests if they wanted to get anywhere in life? Would you be so blithe as to say that was okay if the numbers of people saying this were just “a small part of (y)our very rich lives”? I know I certainly wouldn’t; I’d be telling my child that these were not good messages and that the people saying such things weren’t worth wasting time on – then I’d make sure said people were explicitly unwelcome in our lives. Why is it so different when it’s packaged cutely with pretty dresses? Girls can pretend to be all sorts of well-dressed royalty without having to resort to disempowered stereotypes of helpless girls.

      • That has what exactly to do with liking happy endings and magical Disney movies again?

        • If you don’t know, you obviously need to watch them again.

  • great cartoons….I am right there with you when it comes to Disney. How about visiting the parks? Any interest in taking your kids.

  • Ahah! good laugh; i dont know the princess from 1991. Also, I can argue more recent Disney prods, like Mulan who is enrolling as a soldier and will save the country. Also, how about Pocahontas? I haven’t actually seen the movie.

    • Derek Markham

      Cristele – I haven’t seen Mulan or Pocahantas, but I find it hard to believe that those are much different than the movies that have gone before. My belief is that these films are (obviously) made by adults, and they are made for adults. If they were targeting a much older age range, it wouldn’t be such an issue. Adults watch all kinds of movies with negative imagery and stereotypes (a topic for another day), but our kids don’t need to be exposed to them.

      • I’m not going to speculate on Pochaontas – havent seen it!- but Mulan IS a story where the hero is a woman from beginning to end.
        But I’m not going to defend Walt Disney …my personal favorite of all times is Kirikoo, a tale where the mother is the wise one – along with the grand dad-, supportive of her kid, and that demonstrates that mean people become mean because other people were mean to them (not just ” ’cause they are evil”) and that love will heal wounds. Yay!

        • mulan also can’t do the job unless she cuts her hair and dresses like a man. Which gives the “man” in the story strange feelings for being attracted to a “man” who is really a woman. So a woman cant fight, defend her country, AS a woman. hmmmm not sure I want my child to be exposed to that either. Shame on Disney

          • Lynda, thats dumb. In fact so many of your opinions are childish. Yes Disney movies may not give the best message to kids all the time but I guarantee you its a better message than they are getting from their friends and most likely from you, subliminally. If you posted here against Disney movies and you have ever yelled at someone while driving with your kids in the car, smoked even if not in front of them, they smell it, made any snide remark about someone based on race, financial situation etc, gossiped within earshot of your child, well then Congratulations you are worse for your child then one of these movies. Why? Who do you think they emulate more, you or Snow White?, who do they get their values from?
            Disney movies are childish, and with a childs eyes and brain you don’t pick up the stuff you are picking up. They just see a girl or boy in a story thats fun. Get over it.

          • If there wasnt a problem, there would be no message, there needs to be sexism in the story for mulan to overcome it. it teaches kids that prejudiced of any kind is bad and we must fight against it. there would be no message if there wasnt a problem. and by the way at the end of the movie, and in mulan 2 she is accepted for fighting as a woman, and even teaches other girls how to fight. also even if these princesses aren’t clever, so what? you shouldn’t be teaching your kids thats the only thing that makes us valuable, they are all kind people and all give the message of being kind to everything around you, and isn’t that what counts?

    • In Mulan, she must renounce her female identity and take on a mantle of maleness in order to contribute. Early in the movie she’s also shown as not meeting the feminine ideal well enough to get married.

      I haven’t seen Pocahontas, but I think it’s based on the romanticized version of that piece of our history.

      That being said, I do appreciate that we’re seeing more princesses of color. It breaks my heart when my 4yo daughter says she “can’t” be a princess because she’s not blonde. There are Cinderella-type stories from all over the world, many of which emphasize good works over beauty, and don’t all have a prince coming to the rescue. We like Yi-Shen, a Chinese story, both for the content and the link to our family’s heritage.

      Any thoughts on Tiana (Princess and the Frog)?

      • Katie

        Princess and the frog is not so bad, from my standpoint… it takes a broke prince who has a horrible stuck up attitude, a rich blonde girl who has ALWAYS wanted to have “her prince” come sweep her away and a poor black girl who has a huge dream, throws them all together in a crazy little concoction of finding what’s REALLY important in life: Tiana (finds out her daddy didn’t get to fulfill his dream, but that’s alright because he had his family and had LOVE), Prince Nadeen (finds out that money and partying isn’t what life is about, although he planned to marry the rich blonde girl so he would have money again, he ends up falling in love with Tiana while they’re still frogs because money and power isn’t everything when you have love) and the rich blonde girl (whose name escapes me) realizes that Tiana’s happiness is more important than her own, and she will continue to wait for her prince to come…

        I like the fact that the prince didn’t choose money in the end and it shows kids that love and friends mean more in life than the latter. Although since you all are “so intelligible” I’m sure you’d twist it somehow to make it unworthy of your children’s viewing.

      • Perhaps Mulan has to be like that cos its set in medieval China, which wasn’t an equal society. So to be true to history they have to make it like that. How can you not see that?

  • I’ve never been a Disney princess type. I suppose growing up to me they never related but that had more to do with all the princesses being white and that not being me. I was always given the message I could never attain that status I suppose so it was easy to view them harshly. Even with minority princesses I have not been a fan but that is mostly body image reality. For human characters I liked Lilo’s big sister from Lilo and Stitch since she wasn’t a stick figure and also surfed so bought some of that merchandise for my nieces.

    For my money if my 3 fave Disney cartoons are Robin Hood, the Sword and the Stone, and the Lion King. For human role models I generally head to Miyazaki films.

    • Derek Markham

      Kia –
      Yes, and there are many many positive movies for kids, so it’s a shame that only the big ticket Hollywood type movies (i.e. Disney) get seen by most kids. One has to wonder – without the enormous advertising campaigns and heavy merchandising that goes with these movies, would kids ever want to watch them? Hmm…

    • All the princess are white? Silly me, and all this time I thought Tiana, Pocahantas, Kida, and Jasmine were ethnic! Derpdy der!

  • Indeed Disney movies, as well as so many others, teach strange ideas about relationships and create some cardboard ideals. My bigger concern is the consumerism that these movies and TV indoctrinates–the “must have” and “must watch…”
    I don’t plan on depriving my daughter, but my wife and I have every intention to keep the TV off (we only use for dvd rentals and that is a rare occurrence these days) and let our daughter find her own imaginative forms of expression.
    That being said, I am sure that she will see movies such as these Disney “films,” and as I may not like the ideals they are pushing, I will have to strike a balance between letting my daughter enjoy them for entertainment’s sake with helping her understand what messages the movies may be sending.

    • Derek Markham

      I don’t think of it as ‘depriving’ them, anymore than not letting them drink whiskey is depriving them… I believe that if something has negative imagery, values, or stereotypes, then no matter how many people think it’s OK, I’m still not putting it right in front of them to soak up and mimic. That’s the way I roll.

      And because we are trying to raise girls and boys to a higher standard than is seen in cartoons, I don’t want that influence in their lives. Those movies will be around for a long time, so if they need some ‘entertainment’ when old enough to make the decision by their own selves, they will still have the option.

      Also, for me, I’ve seen that letting our kids do what ever they want (or what every one else is doing), regardless of my values and standards, undermines the lessons we’ve been teaching them. We’re the parents, and we make decisions based on their best long term effects, not just what pleases them. I hear sometimes from other parents, “Little Joe-Bob will only eat frosted sugar bombs and white bread jelly sandwiches with artificially flavored and colored juice substitute'” – My reply is “Seriously? You’re in charge here, not them. You buy the groceries, not them. Stop feeding them that crap, and they’ll get hungry enough to eat real food.” It’s the same way with the media – we control our house, and if we don’t want them to watch those types of movies or TV, all we need to do is turn the darn thing off…

      • Couldn’t agree with you more. I probably shouldn’t question our decisions so much and wonder if I am ‘depriving’ them. On the contrary, I would like to think we are enriching our daughter by offering her the means to be imaginative and not to get stuck in some backwards, bizarro standard of relationships and self-image.

        I find it comical when some of my friends recount some commercial that is incessantly on television. They’re like, “You’ve seen that commercial where…” And I say, “No, I haven’t seen it.”
        I DEFINITELY do not feel like I am missing out on anything. I feel free. And I honestly don’t know how I would ever find the time to watch…

  • I agree with Caren. My girls love playing dress up in their princess costumes. They also love watching the movies. I remember watching them when I was growing up. I am the most influential female role model my girls are going to have. They do not hear me talk bad about my body. They tell me I’m pretty when I’m wearing makeup and when I’m not. I even let them play in my makeup!
    I’m not going to discourage my son from watching anything Disney either. Kids don’t see things the way adults do.
    I’m the facilitator of their learning. Why would I want to take this away from them? I don’t want them to think my ideas, thoughts or feelings on a subject are more important than theirs are.

    • Derek Markham

      Darcel – I hear what you’re saying, but I must disagree. Yes, we are the most important role models in our kid’s lives, and they may see things in a different way than adults. And that’s part of the issue for me – they get messages such as the above, and don’t realize that they don’t apply to our daily lives. They may see those stereotypes and believe them to be true for them.

      My belief is that as a parent, I am bound to protect them from harmful influences to the best of my ability. And if that includes movies that support the idea of oppression, privilege, elitism, and hyper-sexuality or body image issues, then I won’t let them see it. Just as I won’t let them watch adult movies or violent movies, I reserve the right as a father to not let them watch these types of movies. And because we don’t watch TV, they aren’t even aware that these movies exist – so they aren’t missing anything.

      My question to you is “Are the messages from the movies (in the images above) accurate? If they are, do you still believe that your girls ought to be exposed to them?”

      • Katie

        This thread makes me question if you’re worried about telling your children about life… and that it is not all princesses and magic. A lot of little girls want to be princesses, I did at one point in my life!! But my parents let me watch other movies than Disney when they thought I was old enough… like the Secret Garden, the little girl in that movie was treated like complete CRAP, and gets sent to her uncle’s house where she meets her cousin who is afraid of, well, living… and the story gets better after that, she grows a very strong will and realizes that the ugliest garden can be beautiful with a little bit of work and hope and faith…

        so I ask again, are you really so worried about these movies giving your innocent children the wrong views about what life is about or are you afraid that you might have to tell them that life isn’t REALLY like that?

  • I do not have kids so maybe my input will fall on deaf ears, but aside from teaching women their only redeeming values are their beauty and charm and that they need a man to save them…it also teaches them that it always works out in the end and sadly, it will not always. That she can have some big grand wedding when she gets older and will live happily ever after the end. These and sappy chick flicks are what ruin young women’s attitudes about such things. Always searching for the right man, striving to be perfect when the right an will not be perfect and neither are they, but that it takes alot of work and someone should truly love you for who you are….or that you don’t need any of that it to validate you either.

    • Derek Markham

      I agree, Amber.

    • And about friendship, love, happiness, hard work, beauty (I mean in any form… nature, song, personality, etc.), standing up for yourself and what you believe in, sacrificing your own happiness for others’, etc etc etc. Those dirty Disney tramps- how dare they have the GALL to teach young girls this when they already have OUTSTANDIND role models like Vanessa Hudgens and Katy Perry! Silly me.

      Sorry, the stories teach class and ladylike-ness (is that a word?) which is a breath of fresh air in this disgusting “girls need to act like oversexed, manly, bratty tomboys to be special and respected” attitude our society has.

  • Don’t forget that in most Disney movies the mother is either killed (Bambi & Finding Nemo), has abandoned her child somehow (Jungle Book), is caged up so she can’t see her “child” (Dumbo), or has already died (Beauty & the Beast, Snow White, Little Mermaid, Bambi II, Chicken Little, Lilo & Stitch, etc.).

    Here is a link to a post regarding the lack of mothers in Disney films:!/note.php?note_id=386247646972

    • Katie

      I DO agree to that!!! Even “A Goofy Movie”… where is Max’s mom??!!

      My husband and I wondered the same thing a few times… What did Walt have against mothers?

      • One thing about mothers in Disney. They are often absent. Or replaced by a step-mother.

        But in Bambi, I read that they found it easier to animate the other animals interaction with Bambi. Like with Thumper and his humour.

        I guess exposition where the Bambi’s mother would almost act as a narrator to explain things to Bambi would be a little dry.

        Exposition is almost always frowned on by film directors and watchers. Unless you are Cameron.

        Btw, it’s interesting with all this talk about Disney princesses. Does anyone not see another angle? For example Sleeping Beauty’s music is Tchaikovsky’s classical score to his ballet.

        What if girls are inspired to become a ballerina from the music? What is someone growing up is inspired to compose music. Or sing or play instruments?

        You do know that people post YouTube videos of their music whether it’s singing, playing piano or another instrument and it’s often favourite songs from shows, movies and even video games. Inspired when they were growing up.

        Orchestrated music is hip with youngsters. When it’s done with movies, shows, and video games.

        It also shows these Disney shows and the musical scores are ageless!

  • I AGREE whole-heartedly with Natural Papa and am often disturbed by my 2 year old daughter’s fascination with Princes and ‘living happily ever after’, despite the fact I rarely allow any sort of Disney nonsense into my house. It is everywhere, pre-school, ballet… infact, at the end of every ballet lesson the little girls end up marrying their prince. This is why so many women end up disapointed or single… princes don’t exist and if they do, they often have a few princesses on the go. : )

    • No, the end up single because they’re immature. They expect all men to be as caring, considerate, patient, and sweet as Disney guys but being childish, they’re naive enough to fall for bad guys, who are obviously nothing like that. That’s their fault, not Snow White’s or Jasmine’s.

  • After reading the first two, I thought “Wheeee, thank goodness I only have boys!” Then I saw the third. Will re-double my effort to reduce the amount of Disney we consume. Husband and I actually prefer educational shows and PBS stuff for the boys. Good motivation to make sure I watch every show with them and explain these messages and reduce their exposure to this stuff.

  • Sylkozakur

    My daughters asked for princess dress costumes, but have only seen Cinderella, little mermaid, & mulan. Mulan is their favorite. I’m frustrated, however, that the mulan dolls are dressed in the outfit she wasn’t comfortable in. My middle daughter cut her mulan doll’s hair to be more like the hero character.

    I love little mermaid, but hate the message, so we haven’t watched it much. Sleeping beauty is the worst, to me

  • I raised two girls with sensible values. We did watch Disney movies and played with Barbies (same skewed message), but I repeated over and over that this is not real life, it’s a sick fantasy. I think it sunk in, partly due to redundancy, partly due to my own example of independence, strength and succeeding on my own. There was not a man in our house for most of their lives, and we are alive and happy.

    • Derek Markham

      Nan –

      I was raised with Disney as well, and can’t make a blanket statement that it’s all evil – but I also know that the difference between the types and quantity of media that I consumed as a child born in 1969 and those of a child born 10 years ago is huge! And I had my own set of messages to unlearn as I grew up – some I’m still working on. So to say that I’m just fine after all of my childhood exposure to marketing and merchandising messages is to ignore all of the work I’ve done on myself in the past 40+ years in order to try to be a better human.

      But I see your point – and I think the key thing there is that you were highly engaged with them, and showing them a better example in your own life! But I can’t help but think of the millions of children who don’t have that sort of engagement/role model. I don’t see it as a gender issue (whether a man was in the house or not), and when I hear other little kids playing out these characters and plots at the playground, knowing the sheer volume of media that kids consume (especially those with easy access to TV at home), I am concerned about all of the messages that they are absorbing – whether in the form of entertainment, advertisements, or merchandising.


  • True, it wouldn’t be a huge problem if Disney movies were the only source of negative stereotyping messages. But these same messages have become pervasive in so many other forms of media and marketing. The princess message is reinforced by all the merchandising, and by so many other major children’s movies. The fact that there are so few children’s movies other than the princess movies that feature girls as the main character also reinforces to boys that girls have “nothing important to say.”
    Thanks for hosting this conversation, Derek. It’s an important issue for parents to be talking about and sharing ideas about.

  • Interesting post and worth bearing in mind. I wouldn’t be bothered by this message on the continuum of influences that my children will be exposed to were in not for the overwhelming marketing that Disney does. It is everywhere and unavoidable. I view Disney now, mostly as a toy company that makes movie-length advertisements. My kids haven’t seen these princess movies, yet, and we only watch dvds on our tv-not shows or commmericals. But, I’m sure if I showed them the pictures above, they would somehow be able to tell me all the princess’ names.

    On a side note, I was more intrigued by the “evil” characters when I was little and saw these movies. I remember that I, like my oldest son now, couldn’t stand the constant praising of my very blonde hair and looks by strangers, so I ignored it at an early age. I especially thought Maleficent (sp?) was glamorous and that if all the “pretty” and “good” girls weren’t so mean to her, she would be able to understand friendship. It influenced me when I hit high school. I saw bullying going on-usually perpetrated by my “friends,” the popular, insecure people. So I empathized and defended the targets. None of this was a reaction from my parenting, which was cold and aloof. I’ve striven hard to break this pattern and embrace attachment parenting, unschooling, etc. While this is anecdotal of course, it shows that kids will react in unforeseen ways, some good and some bad. I think the key lies in being attached, involved parents who will help their kids learn to discern when they are being manipulated. Everything we watch, is done together and we have constant dialogue about what we watch (needless to say we don’t go to movie theatres, although we have taken them to plays and musicals) I’m amazed at how easily they can attune to themselves and know when something is off.

  • What I think most of the people on here fail to realize is that the majority of the stories that Disney has turned in to movies are children’s stories of way back when. And Disney even watered them down (for example, in the actual “Little Mermaid” story, Ariel dies). Children do not see things the way we do, and the message they get is that if you work hard, you can get what you want (isn’t that what we present to them in this country…the “American Dream”?).

  • And someone mentioned Mulan and Pochantis (sp?). What about The Princess and the Frog, the new princess. She was a frog for most of the movie and love conquered all in the end, they decided they would rather be together and be frogs then become human and not be together. I would say that more of the “original” disney story’s have story’s like that, versus when they use “old children’s storys”.

  • Coccinelle

    I was not raised with Disney and I must say I’m really glad! To think that the cultural values can’t be influenced by media is a nonsense! The media (in general) reflected the mainstream cultural values and then the people are feed with them and thus influenced by them, reinforcing the fact that these values remain mainstream. It’s like a vicious circle. The main example I am thinking about is the fact that Japanese manga are extremely sexist. Is it because the Japanese society is sexist that manga are sexist or is because that manga are sexist that the society remains sexist because of that influence?

    I have no children yet, but I am constantly thinking that I would not want my children exposed to this or that, because I think that children are more influenced than adult. I am almost dreading to have girls because I would not want my girls to like things I abhor like princesses or makeup.

    And for the fact Mulan is better, I didn’t see it so I am not really sure but isn’t Mulan forced to disguised herself as a man in order to do all she do? I don’t really think that this kind of message is better!

    • Mulan : yes but it’s placed in the context of the ancient period the story is set up. Which makes her even more courageous and more of the heroin (standing up against conventions, etc)
      Can’t believe I’m defending Mulan ahah! like I care.
      Please don’t dread having girls: I grew up with my sister and it’s very late that I discovered sexism and misogyny; in fact, I was already 20 when I discovered some ppl had issues with me being a princess-looking…nerd! My parents did a good job raising me with sciences in my mind, and when I reached 20, I was chocked by misogyny but my inner voice had already spoken, so I couldn’t care less about what fellow male nerds would say about me…So it IS possible to raise your girl with no prejudice. My parents would look at the whole concept of looking for prince charming as total non-sense. Actually I don’t think they would even wish me to find a rich man; I don’t think they even considered this as a liberating solution (for them). Oh and btw, I had barbies and probably looked at Disney movies…but my dolls were detectives, or super heroes of some sort. But to go to Dereck’s comments…YES my parents were monitoring carefully what I was watching! I’m having a boy in a few months, and I won’t be teaching him girls are boring for sure.

    • Oh, not icky makeup and princesses and femininity- let’s have them play war, dress like boys, cuss, and shoot rocks at animals with slingshots.

      Honestly when I see people like you and the author bash things as innocent and magical as a Disney movie, it sucks the fun out of it and just makes me sick. You guys can’t stand girls embracing femininity and having fun doing it, but you probably don’t mind traditional boy stuff do you?

      • Femininity is not wrong. And being a tomboy isn’t either. You are over-generalizing and over-simplifying the problem which is that many kids are influenced by media more than ever. Culture is learned from a very young age and nowadays it seems that children are learning a lot of it from movies and TV. The important message to take away from this is that it’s OK to play dress-up and pretend, as a child one of the biggest devices you have is your imagination but the key difference is having the knowledge to know that it is just pretend and such notions are not realistic nor any longer being replicated in today’s society. Women have gained such independence and strength in our history why would we want to take a step back from that and negate what we have worked so hard (and are still working at)to gain? No, as a mass-producer and media giant, Disney should strive to break such gender molds instead of reinforcing the status quo. All it takes is some innovation and a new storyline on their part to create a heroine independent of her male romantic character to give women a more accurate representation in today’s society and girls a better, worthier role model.

      • Not wanting to support a capitalist machine like Disney =/= inherent tomboy daughter.

        There exists plenty of media for girls that holds more dimension and depth than Disney’s typical one-dimensional princess being saved by a prince, and everything is just dandy after that.

        Femininity is not a bad thing, but girls deserve better than gender roles and waiting for a prince.

        My parents incorporated Disney with an amalgam of other books, movies, and games (Star Wars, anyone?). Never once did I ask to dress up as a princess. Instead, I was a cowgirl or a cat. I was a “tomboy” at 7 because I wanted to play with the boys across the street. And you know what? When I asked for a plastic gun and a pair of cargo pants, my mom got them for me. I stopped playing with them when they only let me be a nurse. After that, I started writing my own stories.

        Disney and traditional gender expectations impressed upon children suck, and I’d like my children to be more well-rounded than that.

  • We haven’t done Disney princesses at home, and limited Disney, but my 3 year old daughter has picked up on it from a friend who’s very into it. She got my attention recently when we drove by a wedding and she saw the bride and announced that the woman had a princess dress on! Sounds like I need to talk to her more about princesses and dressing up fancy already.

    • …..because the dress looked princessy?!? Goodness, woman, RELAX.

  • I’m not going to go back and forth on this with you. I’m not trying to be rude either.

    You weren’t speaking to me when you said this ” The whole act of parenting is tied up in attempting to control which values our kids pick up and emulate and those we wish them to avoid. We do it every single day – by restricting the language they use, or the friends they hang out with, the music they listen to, or if they go to church or not.”

    I don’t think it is my job to control my kids. We are raising our children in a way that works for our family and it’s best for us.
    My children are not going to have the same values I have about everything because they are not me.
    I don’t want them to be a carbon copy of me either. I want them to make their own choices right now at an early age. I believe this will allow them to be able to make choices as they grow and be confident individuals.

    How will they learn to make choices for themselves if your always making choices for them?

    To answer your question. I don’t believe the statements about the fairytales are true. I know that my kids aren’t getting those messages posted above. Leave it to adults to screw up something that should be fun for the kids.

    I think we should just agree to disagree.

    • Derek Markham

      Darcel – I’m gonna reply to you, as that’s the beauty of comments – and I’m not being rude either.

      When I said that “The whole act of parenting… “, I meant it. I don’t mean to say that ALL we do is control them – but the only parents I’ve met that don’t exert any control over their kids have kids who are out of control – so I imagine that you do have control over what your kids do/say/eat/watch. Some call it discipline, some call it ‘raising a child’, some call it rules, but we all do it. Unless you’re saying that you don’t ever direct your kids or give them guidelines at all?

      You did say “We are raising our children in a way that works for our family” so you must be actively raising them with values, morals, and guidelines of some sort, so perhaps you were put off by my choice of words – ‘control’.

      If they wanted to watch a movie that was for kids twice their age, or for adults, would you let them watch it? If they want to watch TV all day long, would you let them? I kind of doubt it, based on what you’ve said so far – most parents wouldn’t. And so we do control their experiences until they are old enough to really make informed decisions about such things.

      Our kids make all kinds of choices about the things they have control over – but there are some things they don’t have control over. We don’t let them cross a busy street by themselves, or eat chocolate cake for breakfast, or smack their siblings upside the head. And media falls into this category at our house. I don’t let them listen to music with racy lyrics or words that kids shouldn’t hear or say, and I don’t allow them to watch movies that are violent or contain messages that I don’t want them to see that young.

      For me, I know that there are plenty of other movies, music, books, etc. that have better values than those laid down by Disney or other Hollywood movies, and ones that don’t depend on gender stereotypes and overly dramatic plots.

      And yes, we can agree to disagree.

    • Here, here. The most sensible and honest thing I have seen so far.

  • It’s kind of giving false hopes. We should snap up from our dream and face the real world. Not fairy tales with perfect ending. Well, that is only for movies 🙂

    • Yes, ruin their fun because you bitter adults can’t stand them embracing their femininity and innocence, and having fun all the while doing it. Everyone who tries to be good does have a good ending- it just may not be on this earth. either way, what is WRONG with you people, trying to shake little children by the shoulders and force them to become as stuffy and uptight about innocent things as you?

  • Disney has always been a mixed bag for me. Some of the stories do carry a ‘do good’ message, while others are quite superficial and full of stereotypes. Sad that it’s taken so many decades for society to figure out that a lot of these characters are not the best role models.

  • excellent commentary… much needed. this should be seen by everyone who ever shows their kid(s) a disney film.

  • Also, Disney has always been on the “conservative ” side. Exploiting stories as long as they work. Why bother inventing scenarios since we have tons of centuries-lasting tales, tought and read over and over for years and in different countries! The best panel-proven stories ever. So commercially, those tales are risk-free. It’s a good strategy. Now someone enters the game and shakes things up (Shreck, the hero is the ugly one, the princess has an attitude until she becomes a green monster, her true kind nature, and the vilains are the good looking ones) then the Disney castle starts to tremble, and you have to come up with a shreck-like story, i.e. the princess and the frog, where frog becomes princess and back to frog to defend love against beauty.
    But we (as parents, grand parents, great grand parents) never condemned the tales Disney takes all its stories from, as we grew up on them in our readings and so forth…Disney was not leading the trend, just merely surfing on common culture.

    • Coccinelle

      “Disney was not leading the trend, just merely surfing on common culture”

      So true! I said earlier that I was not raised with Disney but I know half of these princesses because it’s folk tales. It’s like the Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel, etc.

  • Do you HONESTLY think kids will pick this up? These are themes that only adults get! What kind of a kid knows what necrophilia is!?

    If you think your children will understand these sorts of themes at the age they’re at – young enough to be called children – there are a LOT of things you haven’t been sheltering them from…honestly…

    These older disney tales are meant to be about what the power of love can do and now desperate people go for desperate measures for it. This is all kids pick up from it. I grew up on disney movies, I am now 15, my best friend grew up on disney movies, she is one of the most politically aware, intelligent and empowered girls I’ve ever met in our age group. Disney does -not- screw your kids up. You only see these themes as a bad thing now as we live in a more and more conservative, jaded world, devoid of innocence.
    Children do not see what adults see in things.

    • Derek Markham

      Yes, as a 41 year old parent of 5, I do think kids pick up on all sorts of unintended messages.

      And without trying to sound like I’m belittling you, I’m gonna have to go ahead and say – 15 isn’t grown up. So to say that “Disney does not screw your kids up” is so miss the point. We all (yes, every single one of us) pick up our programing from everything we are exposed to during our lives. That doesn’t mean that each one of us will have obvious issues and be willing to admit them to the general public – but I’ve also got friends and relatives and acquaintances that have spent a lot of time working through the crap we picked up as kids, and each of them might be able to say “But I turned out just fine.” I’d be more willing to listen to their partner(s), therapists, employers, and friends to get the answer to that.

      Things look a lot different after having kids, and after seeing quite a bit of what the world is like as an adult.

      To reply with a question to you: So if “Children do not see what adults see in things”, then how come any and all media (all of which is produced by adults to create emotions and reactions from the audience of children) still have the same dramatic plots and twists as adult movies? Scary movies are still scary, even to a kid, no? And when the characters are all adult-like, with adult-like dialog, who are these movies really for?

      They are for the stockholders. They are for the merchandisers. They are to make a profit. Not to be a benevolent fairy tale – but to be a successful business and make money, regardless of what the minority opinion on their work is.

      I appreciate your comment, but I also will stick to my opinion.

      • I may be young and I know that I am not grown up, but I do know that disney movies have not contributed anything bad to me in my entire life. Sure, I haven’t had kids like you, I haven’t lived as long as you have, but this just seems like injustice to me. Children can’t honestly pick at the meanings as deep as you have. Some of those meanings aren’t even present in the movies, especially the captions below the disney princes. I won’t argue with the princesses picture too much, but this was a cultural thing, but it really isn’t possible for children to grow up thinking they should reflect everything the princesses are doing and what is being done to them, I have not met one person that has grown up with this behaviour. You, as parents, have the duty to help your children to grow up with healthy mindsets, I know that much, even if I’m just 15.

        I respect your decision to not let your children watch these movies, but I think you’re only seeing it from a completely adult perspective. I know everyone says you see things from a completely different perspective once you’ve had kids and are an adult, but children still don’t see the world as you see it. They aren’t actually capable of picking up on these things unless you spell it out to them. At least, I know I wasn’t. I just enjoyed the movies for their artistic values.

        • And there is my best friend right underneath.

          Please do not take this as a little pipsqueak trying to change your views, but as a reply to this thread on a whole.

          • Thanks Hrmph and Phoebe – regardless of whether or not I agree with your statements, I really appreciate the dialogue. Disney princesses aside, we’re all discussing very real influences in our society – being able and willing to look critically at issues and have an articulate and respectful discussion is what’s really going to make a difference here and elsewhere.

            Thanks for jumping into the fray as a dissenting voice – I hope my kids can be as articulate when they’re 15 (I doubt I was at that age!).

      • Perhaps in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to deal with Disney, or other questionable influences over our children. But as it is our kids will be exposed to a vast array of things we would never choose for them. Most of which far outweigh princess movies. It is however how we help them to understand these things which may be more important. Limiting access to these movies is one way to prevent the influence. . .for a time. I prefer to use the “real” or original stories to counter the sugar coated Disney versions. . . . .these are more prevelant in our home than the movies. “Fairy tales” were never meant to be “benevolent”, they were intended to be teaching stories, AND they did not always have happy endings. We censor very little in our home, although we DO model and talk a-lot about values. Disney is all pervasive in our culture, and whether they see it at home, at a friends, or at grandmas house . . .they will most likely be exposed to it sooner or later (probably sooner). . .so we choose to use the movies . . .which i agree send some undesirable messages, but also some positive messages. . .as a launching pad for discussions of the real, the political, and the social issues they may touch on. We also make clear to our kids which of these messages we support and which we do not. Having a strong bond with each of my daughters allows me, i believe to have a more powerful influence over them than a movies transient impression. And that makes all the difference in the world. . . .for me and my family <3

  • Hi, a friend just directed me to this blog and though I usually keep quiet on these posts, I felt the need to speak up this time.

    I’m fifteen, I’ve grown up with the Disney princesses (and Disney movies in general) my whole life, and I think I can safely say that I am one of the more empowered, intelligent, politically aware young people around nowadays. Yeah, I’m feminine, I’m a romanticist, but Disney movies didn’t make me that way; all Disney gave me was a passion for animation, a love of pretty dresses and a warm contented feeling whenever I watch them. None of these things are doing me any harm. Say all you want that I’m furthering harmful stereotypes, but the view that it’s anti-feminist to be feminine is, in my opinion, just as chauvinistic as the view that a woman’s only asset is her sexuality.

    All of the movies you’ve quoted above (with the exception of maybe Aurora), as well as the other Disney princess movies i.e Mulan, Pocahontas and The Princess and the Frog operate on distinctly different morals than the ones you’ve extracted. Snow White’s positive attitude keeps her going through difficult times, and she can find salvation even when things look hopeless; Jasmine subverts tradition and marries a poor but kindly street rat despite the protests of those around her, and thus encourages young women to be themselves and make their own decisions; Ariel expands her horizons and cultural capital; Belle’s intelligence and confidence eventually saves the man she loves, whose appearance she was able to overlook; Cinderella works hard, maintains a positive attitude and is repaid accordingly. In later Disney movies – not to speak of Pocahontas, I think I can agree with you on Pocahontas – Mulan outdoes every man in her path and, though she eventually wins the alpha male’s heart, does so through her aloofness and her determination to solve problems with her sensibility and her intelligence, not her sexuality; and Tiana, who is the most inspiring rolemodel Disney has come out with yet for young girls, is empowered, very hard-working, and couldn’t care less about fairytale romance in favour of achieving her own dream (financial independence and a successful business), once more winning the male protagonist’s heart through her own strength of character.

    Tl;dr yes, those messages are present in Disney films but the only people who get those out of them are cynical, critical parents who actively look for them; not young children. All young children gain from these movies are a couple of hours of pretty pictures and catchy songs, honestly. I really cannot believe some of the comments posted on here – disturbed at a two-year-old liking the idea of a ‘happily ever after’ or a three-year-old referencing a princess dress – your children are children. Let them take some joy out of fairytales, this is just ridiculous. I will never thank my parents enough for giving me the freedom of choice to become my own feminine, feminist self and more importantly of course to watch Disney princess movies.

    My god.

    • Derek Markham

      Thanks for your comment. You’re missing the point – the post wasn’t titled “Let your kids watch Disney movies and they’ll all be disturbed individuals”. It also isn’t “Every single thing in Disney movies is evil.” Sure there are good lessons in some parts of these – IF you only focus on those. How do you know which of those messages are the ones that become part of your psyche? You can’t know for sure.

      Yes, there are plenty of kids who don’t think they’ve absorbed any of these messages – but there are plenty who will spend the next 20 years trying to figure out why the world isn’t going according to Hollywood.

      After having spent much of my adult life running into sexism, gender stereotypes, people with power trips, and generally small-minded reactions to the world based on a world-view grown out of mass media, I can honestly say that yes, our culture is filled with negative and hurtful ideas. There is beauty and goodness too, but all it takes is a read of the daily news to see that everything isn’t peachy in our world. So why would we as parents expose our kids to movies which further negative stereotypes?

      I learned that a lot of the ideas I had as a kid weren’t serving me, and once I had the responsibility of taking care of other humans (having children), I saw things in a different light. At 15, I thought I knew how the world works, based on my experiences. After being a parent, I found out differently. I imagine that once you go out into the world to work, go to school, etc., and have children, your attitudes about many things will change.

      You may still disagree with me, and that’s ok – come back then and leave me a comment telling me what sorts of things are “not OK” with you as a parent.

      • Look, I realise that you have thirty-six more years of life under your belt than I do, but that really doesn’t mean that my opinion isn’t valid. It is possible that you had those beliefs as a child because you grew up in a different time – children today aren’t surrounded by misogyny, or racism etc to the point that they once were; it does still exist, yes, but in the developed world as a whole those values aren’t prevalent in the media. I think your children would thank you much more if you were to make your views on these issues known as they became old enough to actually understand them (apologies if they’re already that age, I’m assuming they’re young) and let them watch kids movies… you’ll find that kids will listen to their parents’ views more than anything else in the world.

        And anyway, if you don’t want to expose your kids to any negative stereotypes and you’re willing to look at media from this perspective – it will be difficult to find any media that you think is suitable for them, and I can tell you that no matter how innocent and ethical they grow up to be, a lack of exposure to media will cause naïveté. In order to be able to combat negative influences we must actually know what they are.

        • Coccinelle

          “and I can tell you that no matter how innocent and ethical they grow up to be, a lack of exposure to media will cause naïveté. In order to be able to combat negative influences we must actually know what they are.”

          I don’t agree with you! I can’t say if I was a naïve child or not but I wasn’t sheltered in any way. The first time I witnessed sexism and misogynie applied directly to me I was 23 years old and I remember I noticed it immediately especially because I was not accustomed to it. Or so I think. I don’t think a child can understand a concept so abstract that I only understood once I experienced it. I think if it’s a recurring message, the child will just absorb it like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

  • Great post!
    I don’t remember watching much Disney as a child other than Alice in Wonderland which scared me so much I ended up sobbing hysterically on my mother’s knee in the theatre.
    Now that I’ve watched them all with my daughter I have to say that I’m not a big fan of Disney at all. Aside from being bad role models, I don’t appreciate that they show the princesses getting married at 15 and 16 years old and I find that for young children the movies are far too scary and sad. There’s enough sad and scary stuff in the world to deal when you’re an adult, you don’t need to hear about killing, revenge and evil as a child.
    We cancelled our television several years ago, there was nothing much worth watching and I didn’t want my daughter watching all of those useless commercials. Now I download shows that I think are appropriate and she watches those. We do watch some of the Barbie movies, they don’t have the negative messages that the Disney ones do.

    • Derek Markham

      Lisa – You’re right on about the aspect for young children, and I think that part of the issue is that they are marketed to very young children, who can’t deal with the issues brought up in the movies. Older children have the ability to talk about the things they don’t understand, so we have a chance to have discussions about things, but young kids often don’t.

      We don’t have a TV either, but we do let our kids watch movies sometimes. As you say, appropriate shows, not anything goes!

  • Derek, I totally agree with you. The basic idea is that life imitates art, if you want to call Disney movies or all the other mediocre media out there ‘art.’

    When we imitate, we may not even catch the subliminal message. How many times has anyone here said, ‘I like what that actor is wearing (or his/her hair, etc),’ then go and do the same thing? This is how we are influenced, like it or not. This is what advertising is all about – the subliminal message. They get you to buy their products, not by blatantly saying ‘Here! This is great! Buy this!’, but by showing you how attractive/smart/successful you will be once you own it. They use gender stereotypes to convey these messages.

    We, as a group that don’t think for ourselves (well, most people – some of us are very unique), buy that line of crap and go with the flow, good or bad. So, yes, we do pick up message sent to us through the media, which bombards our senses 24/7. We don’t KNOW we are being influenced by them, but we are.

    I have to agree that the message of stereotypes in a Disney movie does get through to kids and shapes them, gets them thinking along the lines of stereotypes and keep them from thinking independently. When girls imitate the coy, helpless female characters, is that who they truly are? I raised two girls, now 16 and 20, mostly by myself, and we discussed this and the Barbie syndrome all the time. They are strong, independent thinkers, aware of how they can remain true to themselves in spite of media bombardment.

    My older homeschoooled daughter was a very creative dresser, then we had to put her in public school in 4th grade. For the first time in her life, she asked for jeans and sneakers. We are influenced by everything around us; sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not.

    • Derek Markham

      Thanks, Nan!

  • I love Disney

    It’s a movie. They are movies. They are cartoons created by people with imaginations. Wow… what else can you pick apart? WOW.

    • Derek Markham

      As a movie, a “cartoon created by people with imaginations”, a form of artistic expression, it is always subject to critical review and “picking apart”. Or haven’t you heard of movie reviews?

      Critical thinking isn’t a bad thing – it’s how things get improved upon. And as a parent, I reserve the right to inspect everything that my kids will be exposed to. Just as I don’t feed my kids just anything, I don’t let them watch just anything.

      The really funny part of this whole conversation is that I’m not even the guy who made these graphics. They were posted at other, more mainstream sites first, and I just happened to agree with them.

      • I love Disney

        Agreed. I love how hot headed people get about this all. And, yes I have heard of movie reviews. I saw someone respond on another post that I also agree with… that these movies were created and based in another time of life where men and women did treat one another differently and women were of a lesser status. I do feel like the movies were picked apart but I just don’t see a young child understanding or even caring about the hidden meaning or message in the movie. All they care about are the bright colors, the music, the laughter, the happy ending. I don’t think they could grasp that concept unless we sat them down and had a critical conversation with them about how Bella is using her body or kiss or sexuality to get the prince to love her. I don’t know. I get what you are saying and I applaud you however I am just not that intense on the subject. As you have your opinion… you also opened the door to hear out others. Hats off to you sir! 😉

        • Derek Markham

          Cheers, and thanks for your comments!

  • Has anyone been to the Disney parks in the last 5 years. The princess thing has become a major marketing ploy. The last time we went (and my husband says never again), they kept calling my then 8 y.o. princess. They’re all instructed to do so. By the end of our five day visit, my daughter was just really annoyed by it and saw right through their strategies. Of course she was homeschooled back then!

    Many girls enjoy dressing up like princesses. As someone who feels pretty in touch with her feminine side, I don’t find anything objectionable to it, any more so than dressing up like a doctor, pilot, etc. It is just make-believe for them and they are still processing all of the information from the world and adult lives.

    I remember having a book when I was little that was pictures of this incredible castle dollhouse from a museum in Chicago. I would sit and look at the book for hours, imagining what it would be like to live in such a place. It is just a fantasy and perhaps a 5-8 y.o. child isn’t really ready to understand all the complexities that we as adults should, nor is it wrong if they don’t. They have plenty of time to become jaded later in life! I attend a UU church, and we are having a family night with a bouncy thing. Of course, a castle isn’t allowed. I just had a good chuckle, because I knew my three y.o. would have loved a castle to jump in.

    To me restricting this kind of play is like the parent who never lets their kids eat any sugar. Then the kid ends up binging on it later in life. Really, shouldn’t it all about moderation and being reasonable.

    Just my two cents for what it’s worth.

  • “I don’t mean to say that ALL we do is control them – but the only parents I’ve met that don’t exert any control over their kids have kids who are out of control – so I imagine that you do have control over what your kids do/say/eat/watch. Some call it discipline, some call it ‘raising a child’, some call it rules, but we all do it. Unless you’re saying that you don’t ever direct your kids or give them guidelines at all?”

    I don’t like the word control. It means to have power over, or restrain.

    We do guide our children, but we don’t restrain them.
    I don’t say that reading is better than watching TV, they enjoy both very much so who am I to tell them which one is better?

    We don’t have rules over what they can’t or can’t eat.
    The result has been happy healthy children who enjoy a variety of foods.

    “If they wanted to watch a movie that was for kids twice their age, or for adults, would you let them watch it? If they want to watch TV all day long, would you let them? I kind of doubt it”

    We have watched Transformers with them. It’s rated PG 13. They enjoyed it! They loved watching the robots, and explosions.
    We have also watched the cartoon movie with them that came out in the 80’s.
    My husband loves Star Wars and they have watched that series with him several times.

    We have watched TV with them all day long. Not too long ago we had a movie day. They took turns picking out movies, we made popcorn, and we all sat snuggled on the couch together. I know we will all remember that one day when we look back.
    I enjoy watching TV with my kids. It’s fun to watch the movies we grew up on with them. It’s not all Disney. They have unrestricted access to TV so they watch cartoon,s Nat Geo, Discovery, House shows, Baby shows, the list goes on and on.

    “Our kids make all kinds of choices about the things they have control over – but there are some things they don’t have control over.”

    What’s with all the control? So your controlling what they have control over and of course what they don’t have control over?

    I don’t see how you can say these are the messages your kids are getting when you don’t have a TV, and they don’t watch Disney anyway.

    • Coccinelle

      I don’t know… I had unrestricted access to TV and I learned a big deal of things with very educational programs but I remember clearly watching shows that I didn’t like at all and I thought were very boring just because I was bored. I don’t think it’s a very good thing.

      But I didn’t grew into an TV addicted adult. In fact, I own a TV but I never open it because I grew tired of the 18 minutes of commercials per hour. It’s another point, TV has changed. It has more commercials and less educational shows (in my opinion) than when I was young. Hey we have now commercials in the middle of the evening news!!! The shows you download out of the internet or the DVD you rent have the big advantage of having no publicity in it!

  • Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Giselle, Tiana, (Rapunzel).

    There is real progression here. As you move along that list the heroines get feistier, they get bigger personalities, they get more independent.
    Pocahontas: chooses to be a leader of her people, and to facilitate relations between her people and the Europeans, instead of following her heart with John Smith.
    Mulan: Saves her father, impersonates a boy, joins the army, saves China, and yes, she gets the guy, but on her terms.
    Giselle: Learns there is more to life than tiaras and princes, learns to stand up for herself, battles a dragon, DOESN’T marry the prince, instead ends up with the single dad.
    Tiana: turns her nose up at fairytales, works hard at two jobs to save money for her dream, reforms the slacker prince, and yes she marries him, but their happily ever after isn’t castles and servants, its working in their own jazz club.
    Rapunzel: kick’s the male protagonist’s ass (this is in the trailer, no idea what else goes on).

    These movies are mirrors of their times, and the society that produced them. Are some of them dated? Of course. Does this mean they have no value? No. That would be like saying that Casablanca has no value, or Schindler’s List, or Gone with the Wind. They aren’t exactly brimming with positive female role models. They still have entertainment value, and they are historical texts. They show us snippets of our society and culture, and our technological achievements. I will allow my daughter to watch these films, as I will allow her to do most things that do her and her surroundings no harm.

    If anyone has seen the last few Disney princess movies (Pocahontas, Mulan, Enchanted and The Princess and the Frog), and the trailer for Tangled, you’ll see that Disney is getting with it, and making an effort to portray modern role-models for our daughters.

    Having said which, I grew up loving Disney movies and it did me no harm (My favourites were Belle, because she loved reading books like I did, and Ariel because I loved swimming and thought it would be cool to have a tail). Unless you think annoying people by singing as I do the housework is harmful. Or worse, getting married and breeding (gasp!).

    If you look at just about any character/story to pick it apart, chances are you’ll be successful. Are the pictures above with their snide, witty little captions accurate? Not for me. Its all subjective. If you want to look at them as a jaded, cynical adult go ahead. I choose to look at Disney films through the beautiful rose tinted glasses of childhood. To this day these films fill me with a sense of delight and happiness that is often sorely missing in my very adult world. They are a perfect antidote to watching the evening news. As is looking at the world the way my daughter sees it.

    My daughter can watch Disney movies when she’s old enough to be interested, just as she can read Romeo & Juliet, or Pride & Prejudice, or any other romantic tale. She can read Plath and Hemmingway too when she’s ready. This will be her choice.

    I do hope however, that she looks to the very real women in her life for role-models before she looks at fictional characters, just like I do. My mother raised 3 children on next to no money after my father’s death (while she was pregnant with me), she overcame many hurdles including the death of my twin, my sister’s kidnapping, and a brain haemorrhage.

    We needn’t look far for role models. I didn’t and I doubt my daughter will.

    • Pamela,

      You are so right on. You should visit the website for Reason magazine, because really we have lost all sense of “reason” with this person’s blogpost.



      And BTW, I am also pro-gay marriage, gasp, and pro- feminism, gasp, however, my version of feminism is being proud of everything that is feminine, which I dare say includes my willingness to wear my hair long and put on make-up each morning. And I do think my two daughters will look up to me more because I have a career that gives me great pleasure, as a musician.

      As far as the man saving the woman, I think my marriage of 13 years has worked, in part, because now and then I let my husband “save” me. It’s called support, and I do the same for him.

      • Sarah,
        Thanks for the recommendation I’ll have to have a look.
        Some of this stuff just gets beyond ridiculous. Glad I’m not the only one that thinks so.
        Oh, I’m pro gay marriage too (If I’m allowed to have a crack at screwing it up with my boyfriend/ husband, I can’t see why my cousin shouldn’t have that right with his boyfriend!), and throwing on a dress sits just fine with my personal brand of feminism.
        My husband saved me from one of the darkest times in my life, and I’m quite happy to save him right back from anything going. That is how our partnership works too. 🙂
        Keep up the good fight Sarah!

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  • luckychrm

    OK- I did it, it took me what felt like a tremendously long time to read those comments, but that parenting thing keeps interrupting. I’m not totally ready for a throw down over semantics, but I am unclear about how different “control” and… “guide” are when used in the general parlance of contemporary parenting approaches.

    Coincidentally, I was reading about the issue of a protective environment (including media exposure) and family life today in Naomi Aldort’s book Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves. Excerpts from the section (for brevity): “Every parent controls the environment to some degree… The child’s sense of autonomy and power is not a function of being able to access everything that is available in our society, but rather of a day-to-day freedom in her home and social environment.”

    Sounds like, controlling the environment, but not the child? This is from a parenting professional whose main message is to not control children.

    On the thematic critique- I think the messages highlighted in the graphics are present in the stories and films. Messages of similar ilk saturate daily media and commerce advertisements.

    I prefer to moderate our 5 year old daughter’s exposure to these subtle yet pervasive and negative statements. But I don’t see that coming out as a princess-hating-parent is going to serve her either and I agree with a previous poster in imagining the potential negative fall-out of despising those who promote and/or aspire to a version of beauty, femininity, and female value that is different from what feels comfortable and appropriate for me.

    I appreciate the inclusion of the “prince” conversation, because it seems an often left-out piece of the conversation that sexism impacts boys.

    FYI- I was an unrestricted television watcher but only saw a few of the Disney movies growing up, since that was the golden age of cinema and such ready and repeated viewing was limited by scarcity. I did play with Barbies and I was/am very interested in looking pretty, but almost exclusively based on my own standards.

  • Your nuts to think like that. You are really joking to think that this is the only and sole message Disney films are sending. I have read alot of strange and odd things this actually had me laughing because I just view you as an overbearing parent who’s children will some day resent you for being so odd and not allowing them to see such films because they are sending the wrong message. Take the target age group for these films and ask them what they think of the movie and what the message is and you for 98% of the answers will get that love conquers not women are dumb mindless servants and have nothing but there beauty. Its people like you who probably search though titles and pictures on movies saying O look there on the little mermaid that tower looks like a dildo and we should sue Disney or hey look at lion king if you pause it at just the rite moment that by shear dumb luck you can semi make out the word sex and we need to sue again. Your plight to make disney seem as a sexist company may be well intentioned but I find it to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read and most likely ever will. Be like 95% of the world who realize its a cartoon not the end of the world. Trust me my 4 children do not get there moral values from tv and the internet they get them from myself and there mother with help from the grandparents. Grow up and stop blaming cartoons and movies for what causes problems in the world and blame the rite factor and thats the way the parents raise there children!

    • As I reread my post I know that I feel 100% correct in my statement and am guessing it will get censored in some way but I copied it and hope you allow people to read my point of view!

      • Derek Markham

        Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t censor comments here.

    • Derek Markham

      Jeff –

      Nuts, eh? OK, you’re rite right. I’m going out right now to buy everything made by Disney, so I can be like 95% of the world. /s

      Just curious – what is the right way to raise our kids?

  • I’m going to chime in here as a clinical child psychologist with 3 kids and 20 years of practice. While I respect your point of view, I am yet to see a child or adult who has landed in trouble or acquired a significantly dysfunctional world view or life circumstance as a direct result of watching Disney movies, or believing in Santa Claus etc. Let them watch Saw or Final Destination and you have a potential issue. Kids don’t buy into the allegorical content of these films and they don’t subconsciously dicing to some cultural indoctrination conspiracy. They like stories, music, colour and characters. There are much bigger fish to fry.

    • Derek Markham

      So, PB –

      While I respect your right to have your own opinion, I’m gonna have to say that your statement that “I am yet to see a child or adult who has landed in trouble or acquired a significantly dysfunctional world view or life circumstance as a direct result of watching Disney movies, or believing in Santa Claus etc.” is missing the point. Go back and read the update at the end of the post – I don’t hate princesses, I don’t hate Disney, I don’t blame the ills of the world on a media company.

      I’ve heard people who are grossly unhealthy, either mentally or physically, say that “I did XYZ as a kid, and I turned out fine” – and so we tend to minimize the impact that events and experiences have on us, merely because we don’t see the connection. My thoughts are that every thing that comes into our awareness affects us, and children have much fewer filters to use to determine what’s real, what’s important, and what’s right (in the eyes of their upbringing), so we shouldn’t discount the effects of things like media, especially when it’s accompanied by an enormous advertising and merchandising campaign (as most Disney movies are).

      And as far as making a blanket statement like “Kids don’t buy into the allegorical content of these films”, that’s like saying that kids aren’t bright enough to understand subtlety, when in fact, they can and do pick up on many things that we as adults might not pay attention to. (And nobody is talking about a “cultural indoctrination conspiracy” – not sure where that came from).

      I’m curious, though: If you think that kids watching some types of movies (you mentioned some, but I have no idea what they are about) is not OK because they might have language or actions that we don’t like (“Let them watch Saw or Final Destination and you have a potential issue.”), why don’t you think they pick up on other aspects of children’s movies? If they just “like stories, music, colour and characters”, then by that logic, just about any movie ought to be OK for them, eh? Why draw the line at scary or violent, but not something else, like storylines and images that continue to perpetuate gender stereotypes?

      Yes, there are “bigger fish to fry”, but don’t you imagine that there are quite a few subtle things in our culture and media offerings that lead to those issues?

  • “Dicing” should read “buy in”

  • I have to agree with Derek. The “prince” and “princess” mentality pervades our culture in subtle, and often not-so-subtle ways. Look at the wedding industry, which I believe is at a $30,000/wedding average (often $50,000 and more)…For a one day event! (for a marriage that has a 50/50 chance of ending in divorce). These are people that buy into the whole fairytale wedding ideal. And the wedding industry preys on these so called “subtle” and pervasive ideals. Disney even makes wedding dresses! From $1100-$3500.

    And the divorce rate is a perfect example of how things like fairy tales and Disney films have indoctrinated people into thinking a fairy tale wedding is the ideal. Time and time again people strive for the fairy tale wedding only to overlook the necessary “tools” needed for a successful marriage.

    At age 7 my niece is seeking a good portion of her self-worth from “getting a boy.” Age 7! Certainly a lot of this has to do with adults constantly saying “subtle” things like, “oh, she’s so beautiful; she’s going to be fighting off the boys.” That combined with the princess ideas in fairy tales and disney films has fostered a child who unhealthily feels her self-worth is based on what some buys think of her. And I hear these comments already with my daughter. “Oh, her eyes are so beautiful…The boys better watch out…” Can’t you just leave it at “Oh, her eyes are so beautiful,” and stop perpetuating this need for some boys’ approval.

    • Derek Markham

      Well said, Jeremy. That’s a great point about the things we say to kids – I’ve seen it happen to my girls (and thought “Are you kidding me? You just said that around my 5 year old?”) as well as experiencing a similar thing in my own life.

      All throughout my childhood years, people would say “You’re so skinny” (perhaps not meaning anything by it, but without any further explanation, how would I know that?) because I don’t carry extra weight on my frame. I spent many years believing that there was something wrong with me, and going to the gym and eating tons of extra food so that I wouldn’t appear “so skinny”. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that the people who told me that were always fat – and that I’m a perfectly healthy, athletic individual. To this day, I get comments about my diet and lifestyle (“How can you eat that way? I could never do that.”) from people who look 10+ years older than they are, and who have multiple health issues from diet and lifestyle.

      So I can’t imagine what that would be like for a girl, who gets pounded with messages every day about the importance of looks, to hear those messages about her physical appearance at so young an age.

  • I totally agree with the latest comments. When I came in the US, I was chocked by the culture of women trying to find a husband to take care of them. In France, I felt these kind of people exist but in a proportion you can largely ignore. Here, it’s totally the reverse: starting the dating thing where the boy is supposed to buy everything, all medias, the way women perceive themselves and yes, the one-day princess dream of “every little girl” of their wedding (never even crossed my mind when I was a little girl!), so yes, there are bigger fishes to fry, but the small reflects the whole, and Disney IS a very intrusive company in the minds of small kids as it is the leader in the industry and their characters WILL make it to your home – and it’s OK, but I agree with Natural Papa to be aware of what’s feeding your little ones minds, the same way you watch what’s feeding their little stomach. A burger once in a while is OK as going to mc donalds is tons of fun, a burger everyday is not. Same goes for entertainment.

  • To state as part of one’s argument that there is no “direct link” between watching Disney movies and a “significantly dysfunctional world view” is disingenuous. (Even aside from the anecdotal nature of this particular evidence.) This sounds eerily like an industry PR statement. Obviously a “direct link” would be difficult to prove, and “significant” dysfunction very rare. More likely, the Disney princess phenomenon lays a foundation that is built upon over the years by other media storytellers, advertising and random stranger comments that a female’s worth is in her looks and her ability to attract a man. The message becomes part of the developing child’s brain. It doesn’t result in “significant dysfunction.” It results in a vague feeling of inadequacy, a battle with depression, food and weight issues, dissatisfaction, divorce, unhappiness, etc. etc. I applaud Derek’s reasonable effort to try to protect his children from all that, even if others think there are “bigger fish to fry.”

  • Pingback: International Animation Day and Disney Princesses | The Animation Anomaly

  • Michelle

    As a little girl growing up, I watched the all these movies, I’m a Disney girl and loved it when I went to Disney world and got my pictures taken with the princesses. I played dress up and pretended to be a little princesses just like most other little girls do. When I was older I modeled for a few years and not being conceited but I wasn’t the ugliest girl on the block.

    Now 18 years later I’m receiving my English degree from college, living on my own, financially stable, and perfectly suitable taking care of myself. I still keep in contact and visit my parents everyday. I visit my grandparents and never miss a family function. I do dream of getting married but I don’t need the fancy extravagant $30,000 wedding, in fact I just want a little one with close family.

    What I’m getting at is these movies don’t instill horrible,life changing values in children. Good parenting over rules anything a child sees on TV. If my parents didn’t agree with something I didn’t do it because I was raised to respect my parents. (There was some crying along the way but when isn’t there?) These movies don’t make your children horrible and unruly, bad parenting is what makes children this way.

    • You and Thor- simply and brilliantly said!

  • Ernest Hemingway~ Theres nothing noble in becoming superior to your fellow males. Accurate nobility is becoming superior to your former self.

    • Tell that to the feminazis. “Oh, Disney tells little girls they’re inferior to men! Snow White and Aurora were so weak!! They need to act like men like Mulan to be worthy of my respect!!1!1!!!”

      • Missa

        Alright, first of let me say that this is a brilliantly written article. I agree with all the points and while I wouldn’t restrict all Disney movies about 95% of them would not be watched. I also wouldn’t show any that I myself had not previously seen. One of the few is actually Mulan which has been mentioned several times.
        Mulan is a story about a girl in old world China who in the beginning is being set up to be married, however she is seen as too clumsy, talkative, and boisterous to ever bring her family honor.
        A war begins and she takes her fathers place in the war because of his health he would surely die. She has to disguise herself as a man because to do otherwise would lead to death. She ends up responsible for winning the war and “saving China.” It is a movie about a girl learning that being herself, while often harder than following the crowd is more fulfilling.
        Now on to the comment. M, I must say that no one else’s comments pissed me off quite as much as yours.
        I am an independent woman who works hard, supports her family, and works out. I am a tomboy I am rough and tumble and take shit from no one and, as you may of noticed I swear.
        I also respect those with other opinions, don’t bash those who CHOSE to wear make up, be soft and demur. Something you could learn a lesson from. You are judgmental and harsh and should be ashamed of yourself.
        All you have done since commenting is bashing women like me.

  • These types of movies are based on fairy tales.

    Not all children’s stories have to be looked at as having morals or something that people have to emulate.
    As, in not all children’s stories need a role model.

    Sometimes, it is as simple as a movie to watch when one is feeling blue or down. Hence, the change of many Disney films from a sad/tragic ending to a happy ever after ending.

    What I find sad is that too many parents nowadays wants every children’s book, show or movie too be overly preachy and moralistic.

    Lewis Carroll got it right with Alice and Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Sometimes, it is better to make something that inspires imagination and interesting stories/characters.

    Instead of always looking at Disney for morals or similar ideals of your own. Why not look at like…what if it inspires a child to become a writer, an artist, or a movie creator?

    I look at Sleeping Beauty as something that inspires every art student and even a child that wants yearns to draw or paint. Rather, than how many say “that isn’t real life” It’s not supposed to be.

  • Sorry for the double post.

    But, I just want to say something about Little Mermaid.

    I just remembered that someone from Disney said this movie actually got them lots of letters from Dads and Daughters even ones that talked about recounciliation. Meaning, estranged parents and their kids. And, this movie brought them back together. Interesting, how people can ID with characters in a fairy tale. I think this was on the commentary track of the DVD.

    Too many other adults see this movie and think Ariel is just spoiled and just wants to get her way. It’s disappointing that many people see it that way.

    I see it more of a movie where Triton is the typical parent who “listens but isn’t really listening to his daughter.”
    A parent who doesn’t really respect their kids at all. Note, he practically destroys almost all of Ariel’s collections from the human world. Including a large statue.

    Ariel is super bright…she is interested in another world and collects all sorts of items….just like someone who would be a young museum curator or historian or an archaeologist. She would even make a great ambassador between Atlantica and the human world.

    Anyways, Triton is a merman…a parent who thinks all humans are evil…because his wife’s death was caused by humans.

    So, in many ways it shows…at least in my opinion. An over-bearing and over-protective parent. One who is completely stubborn and steadfast. Basically, my way of the highway type of parent. Triton forbids Ariel from going to the surface.

    In the end, he finally realizes that he has to let his daughter go. This is still hard for many parents to do. Yeah, Ariel may be rebellious…but too many parents don’t even realize why that may be happening. And, part of the problem is themselves.

    If you don’t think that is true. Think about how child proteges are often damaged by over-bearing parents. I remember from the 1990’s a college football quaterback who was forbidden to eat any fast food or candy…his father had him on a strict training regiment. He eventually succumbed to drug abuse in his early days in the NFL. After he was away from his father’s presence.

    And as for young age marriage in fairy tales. Yeah, that isn’t a great message…but again these stories are fairy tales and they are set in times when that actually happened.

    If you read history you will see this even way back in Colonial America and some still in Civil War era.

    It’s almost like there are parents who rather have their kids ignorant of distant history.

    Which brings up another point. What if these fairy tales inspire a kid to actually study and research distant history. Is that a bad thing?

  • OK people…I have four kids and two step kids, all ranging in ages 18 to 1 yr, so I know a little bit about raising a family.
    Step 2–Talk about how television shows and movies impact them, and you, and
    Step 4–Love them unconditionally, talk to them all the time so they don’t HAVE to learn from television or movies or whatever.
    Step 5–Don’t freak out over stupid crap. Save that for the doozies, cuz there will be doozies, believe you me.
    Thanks and have a great time with your kids, cuz they are only kids for a little while!!!

    • shannon wilson

      thank you, dg. this was the most convincing argument and helpful comment out of this whole post.

  • I watched/obsessed over Disney princess movies as a child of the early ’80’s and feel they DEFINITELY influenced my life and self-image early on in a negative way. Particularly, “The Little Mermaid” whose central themes are immodestly, obsessive lust, rebellion, selfishness, silent seduction, etc. One of my favorites but I fail to see much redeeming in it besides the catchy songs. I was given a VHS with “The Princess Bride” and “Cinderella” at age 8 and obsessed over those 2 movies for years. I liked the action and humor in “The Princess Bride” but watching it as an adult was disgusted by the flighty thoughtlessness of Buttercup (who is actually more of a ditz in the book).
    I HATE Mulan because the guy finds out she is a woman and leaves her wounded and half-naked in a snowy mountain pass for dead! And she still marries him! What a “hero” to be the only man willing to marry this clumsy outcast woman who recklessly saved the empire by impersonating a man. Why is no one else bothered by this?
    Part of why they influenced me so much is because I am still a deeply feeling, romantic person with a very vivid imagination- more so as a child. You have to really know your kids and the way they are perceiving things.
    The concept of men who fight (to the death!) for any drop-dead gorgeous woman is a negative and untrue message I don’t want my son or daughters to have. Happily married now to a perfectly wonderful human male, I regret having suffered through needy, sloppy relationships and years of confused and unnecessary self-hate due to messages and behaviors (not always ladylike) VERY MUCH learned from these movies.
    Other factors included my weak relationship with my parents and their blind endorsement of these movies as well as undisciplined hours per day spent watching other TV shows and movies until my head hurt.
    What a sad waste of my precious childhood! I wish I had been shaped more by reality. My best memories are the ones I spent outside or (even fewer) spending time one-on-one with a parent doing something with me, for me.
    I questioned and discounted Jesus when I realized the fiction and hype behind Santa. My kids have never been lied to about that and they genuinely appreciate it.
    Raising 3 kids and 1 on the way, I have successfully (so far) raised my daughters with an awareness and respect of femininity, even owning princessy stuff, without watching the Disney movies. They appreciate how beautiful THEY are whey they dress up in beautiful clothes. They don’t need to watch the movies to know who the princesses are- we even have some of the books. Fairy tales. The alternative to Disney princess movies isn’t militant, muddy, gun-toting tomboys.
    So, obviously, I am not opposed to every aspect of the Disney princess franchise. Up until recently I could easily justify abandoning pretty much all of the movies based on fear/dramatic content alone but my oldest is able to handle that now, probably.
    I don’t know, I think it just comes down to you can value some of the same things without all the garbage they throw into it. I do, for the record, approve of “The Princess and the Frog” and “Tangled.” To a degree, “Beauty and the Beast.” All others are just too much. It’s true they have value and I really did love them but I can’t deny the negative way they affected me. Disney is evolving for a reason.
    Buying Barbie/Bratz dolls and certain princess movies is a CHOICE as logical as buying only junk food (or worse) for your kids. I’m sure someday they’ll see the movies if they want to but why push it on them when you don’t have to? They haven’t missed it or requested it but it’s not like they don’t know the movies are out there. And if you do allow them, what’s the harm in watching it just once vs. facilitating an obsession of it? We watch most full-length movies only once.
    Maybe I’m an over-bearing parent but I KNOW I would have appreciated more discipline and guidance as a young child. I ached for it. My kids enjoy the success that comes with playing a piano piece well or knowing how to help out, make things, create things. Going on outings is so much more fun to them than screen time (which they earn through reading or rare random allowances). Even just listening to fun music and/or dancing is so rewarding for them. Deep happiness should come with structure. Not too much, but some. If you have the luxury of being involved at home with your kids why cop-out by giving them more “freedom” than they are mature enough, or even want to, handle?

  • Back when I was a young girl, the main reason why I used to watch Disney Princesses movies wasn’t because of its story but because of its animation flow. The animation was really smooth flowing(sounds weird for a young girl, huh). I never really did pay attention to the story. I actually didn’t like it. I really think Disney Princesses were a bunch of crap even back then. What I actually truly liked back then and even now were Japanese cartoons.

  • The peace keeper

    Okay I know that if the original poster ever comes back he will highly reject this comment because I’m 14 and highly disagree with him. But I am like no one else my age, I understand very deep things most parents don’t. My parents were fine with me watching Disney movies, and when I was quite young I thought everything that could possibly be in media was completely fake and unrealistic, my parents didn’t teach me that, I decided that for myself as young as three and they never even knew. My parents, mostly my mom have used adult language around me since I was quite little and I always knew it was bad and refused to repeat even something really mild like hell. I also have known about sex from my mom for a few years. I have known about homosexuality since I was very young from my parents. I always hated boys and anything other females were because I felt going with the flow is wrong. I am a major anticonformist and feminist. Nothing I ever watched had any effect on me, and I never wanted to see R rated movies or (until recent years) PG-13 movies, because I knew that rated meant it was not for kids and must be wrong, I still only watch kids channels because mature content upsets me, though I have nothing wrong with ten year olds seeing it because they will know it’s wrong and not enjoy it. Kids never pick up nearly as much from media as parents think, for me that included good messages from truly wholesome sources until I was like 8 or so. My mom actually tries to get me to like make up and fashion and has tried to get me to watch R rated movies with her that she convinced me were okay because she had seen them a million times. The Disney Princess movies do have more good messages than bad exept for the first three. And all these moral guardian parents really disturb me. I’ve already turned out much better than most older teens, and I really think this super strict parents are corrupting their kids much more that an R rated movie would ever corrupt the same kid because kids need to learn and need to experience scary movies and “inappropriate” content to know the world isn’t squeaky clean because they really can comprehend it and it won’t ruin them, it will make them stronger and feel better about themselves. Also I was never scared of stuff from movies because I knew it was fake. Parents really need a dose of reality. I enjoy Disney channel and Nickelodeon sitcoms because they are just entertainment. Also I used to think those were for teens and up as well, and that was actually because of my mom because they aren’t cartoons. I got mad at the girls in girl scouts for liking something I didn’t thing was for kids.

    Just food for thought.:)

  • Dear everyone,

    If your kid doesn’t watch Disney movies, or doesn’t know who the princesses are, then they have no childhood. Honestly, Disney movies provide innocent and wholesome images and morals that kids, especially of this generation need to learn. Kids of this time are growing up way too fast. Honestly, if you don’t let them watch Disney, what will you be okay with? Most children shows now are idiotic and overly childish. Show them classic Disney movies, and how the roles of women have changed from damsels like Cinderella to heroes like Belle and Mulan. People are finding way to many things to complain about these days. Don’t complain that Princesses are beautiful and everything is a “happily ever after” type ending. That’s the point, it’s a fantasy, an escape from reality. That’s all they’re meant to be. Simple fairytales. No harm there. Walt Disney was a wonderful man, who wanted to spread fantasy and imagination to kids.

    • someone

      I am still a kid since i am only 13 but i feel like they have influenced me a lot in a positave way and i still like watching them i dont know where my life would be without the disney princess movies and i still love them 🙂

  • Alyssa

    I agree with Renee! I was raised off of Disney films, if you ask me I find myself blessed compared to what the children are watching today. I’m in college, writing my senior research paper about the impact of Disney imparting morality to children. Wow look at that a smart, strong, independent woman, guess Disney totally screwed me up by making me successful!

  • Nicole

    I’m a senior in high school writing a paper on what you can learn from disney movies. Okkkkk REALLY ??? How can you say that Ariel only changed her appearance for a guy? Have you even watched The Little Mermaid? You do realize she was obsessed with being a human WAYYYYYY before prince eric was in the picture. She did it for herself. And saying that Sleeping Beauty’s only salvation is sex??!!! HOW CAN YOU STRETCH A KISS TO BEING SEX!!!!!! It was one kiss to save her life. I’m pretty sure any guy…even a guy who didn’t know her would do something like that to save someones life. EVER HEARD OF CPR??????

  • Let’s be honest, kids have no understanding of morals like these until they’ve matured and realized that those movies are only fantasy. Disney movies don’t teach children any morals, that’s up to the parents. When I was a child, I couldn’t have cared less if Ariel changed her appearance for a man. I just loved ‘Under the Sea’, and the fact that there were mermaids in the movie. I had no understanding of the deeper meanings until I reached high school.
    And people always look at worst, but what about the better meanings found in the movies?
    Snow White- kindness can change even the grumpiest of people.
    Belle- Reading and being ‘strange’ isn’t a bad thing, that adventure in life can spring up at any time, and that loving someone who is different than you is perfectly okay.
    Jasmine- a prince isn’t always the best answer, sometimes it’s the one we least expect that will truly love us.
    Tiana- Dreams won’t just come true by wishing, you have to go out and make them come true.
    Those are just some examples.
    Point is, the child will only learn what their parents instill in them.
    I grew up watching Disney movies, but I’m not about to go change myself so that I can be accepted, whether it’s for a man or for society, because I was taught to love myself for who I am.

    • Derek Markham

      Rianne – Let’s be honest. You have no way of knowing if “kids have no understanding of morals like these” nor proof for your statement that “the child will only learn what their parents instill in them.” If that last statement were true, then only criminals and deviants would breed more of their own.

      I’d postulate that you don’t know what effects you internalized through watching Disney movies, and I’d add that it’s likely that the most vehement disagreements with this post come from people who don’t like anyone disagreeing with their own choices.

      The funniest reactions to any effort to make a stand against anything tend to begin with “Well, I grew up doing [fill in the blank] and I’m just fine.” However, I’m not so sure that we can assess our own sense of ‘being fine’ – perhaps we ought to ask our partners and boss and coworkers and enemies. Then we might begin to get at the truth of that.

      I’m sure that Disney loves that you like Disney movies. Remember, they’re not in it to make the world a better place. They’re in it to make money, which they have, in a very big way.

      • As I said in another post Derek, I am sure you have a much greater effect on your children than a movie. And based on the fact that no one is perfect, I am sure you have given your children a worse model to live by than a Disney movie.
        I agree partially with you that we have no way of knowing what kids pick up from movies, but the message they get from Disney probably isn’t as bad as the one from Katie Perry, Lady Gaga or 50 Cent. But I would also say is that there is just as much proof that they do understand these morals as that they don’t.


          i agree, movies like those arent that bad, i have grown up now and i have watched those movies many times and i do not think that i am messed up or anything like that. People in real life infuence you and when i watched those movies i feel like if they did influence me they influenced me in a good way like how to be caring, compassionate, and never give up or give up hope.


        Disney may have only made these movies but they teach me something though and i am fine i was raised up very well and now i am a high educated young women and i feel as though i am fine nobodys perfect but i think i know what “fine” means 🙂


      I love what you said and what your point is. When i was little i loved the disney movies and i feel like they influenced me in a great way. 🙂

  • 20 something

    Ok first off the mother being killed off in bambi is’nt disneys fault, they based that movie from a book and made it according to the book. (you know way back then when they didn’t water down movies to to be politically correct) the only movies that were watered down were the princess ones. Seriously if you think they’re adult themed now, go read the Brothers Grimm version of cinderella, or rapunzel (the one where the prince gets his eyes gouged out very violently). But some of you have a point, this is america it’s your free right to let your kids watch or not watch whatever you choose. yeah I might be 20 something, not married with any children but I’m part of the “generation” that grew up on movies these and I turned out just fine and you know why? because I had two good parents that told me those movies were exactly that just movies. If you dont want your kids growing up thinking life is a “fairytale” then do your job as a parent and inform them its not real its just a movie. Just saying…

  • Father of 2

    Not-so-much-in-defense-of “fairy tale” movies, but some of the more recent disney/pixar films do offer stronger female characters. Immediately I think of Incredibles’ Hellen/Elastigirl, and Violet, who grows into her power and her own confidence throughout the movie. Also noteworthy is that in Incredibles there is an intact and loving family unit & the central woman is not a sex-pot; and even the woman who is meant to be “the attractive one” exhibits ethics.
    Second I offer Tangled; a twist on the Rapunzel, where the female is encouraged to free herself, and on several occassions is the savior of the male lead!




    I honestly disagree. When I was little I loved these cartoons and thinking about it makes me happy. The films taught me that true love exists and that we should go searching for it no matter how hard it gets. It also taught me to not give up and have hope. The reason why Eric in the little mermaid fell in love with Ariel was because SHE SAVED HIM (he would have drowned with out her help) and when he heard her beautiful voice he fell in love with her. That was why when Ursala ( the evil sea witch) used Ariels voice Eric wanted to marry her. The same was for Sleeping Beauty when Prince Phillip heard her voice in the forest he fell in love. As for Belle the beast fell in love with her because as they began to communicate they learned how similar they were besides looks Belle did not fall in love with him because of his looks. I do not mean to be rude but that is my honest opinion thank you

  • Are you serious!?!? Hahaha this is by far the most pathetic, worst article I’ve ever read!!! Oh dear. For starters everything you said is so NOT true.
    I didn’t wanna read the rest because this was so shit.. But what you said about the princesses and princes are so not true
    If you’ve actually watched any of them properly.. Snow White wasen’t so beautiful just because of her looks or sexuality like you said, it was her CHARACTER that made her more fairer than the queen.. The mirror describes her as lovely & graceful, and (inwardly) beautiful. And beauty and the beast has a good lesson to learn, not to judge some1 by their looks it wasen’t Belle’s looks that saved the prince it was her character and personality that won his heart. Obviously you havn’t watched these movies properly or are too ignorant to know what you’re talking about, Disney movies are about true love, adventures, and gracing children’s childhood! I know I learnt a lot as a kid watching them.. And without them I don’t think I would be who I am today, I’m not gonna get into the rest of them cos it’s a waste of time, but please make sure you actually know what you’re talking about. i feel sorry for your household that it’s lacking in Disney films.

    • Derek Markham

      Thank you for your precious advice. Obviously you didn’t even read the piece before posting your knee-jerk reaction, and I feel sorry that you can’t read, spell, or form a coherent sentence, but I won’t blame that on Disney. It’s your own damn fault.

      • No, you have a magical day 🙂

        • Derek Markham

          Aren’t they all?

  • Some of you sound ridiculous . If you forbid Disney in your household that’s just stupid- kids are young allow them to dream a little obviously if you think Disney alone is going to negatively affect their upbringing than you have bad parenting skills. The older princess movies were made in the 30s and 40s and were very similar to women roles in that time period. Show your children all of the princess movies as a way to show how far women have come in society. No matter what they are all visually stunning, have magic, and wonderful music to them. Even the older princess show charm, grace, and politeness- something younger kids seem to lack. There’s a lot worse that children’s will be exposed to but come on guys Disney is not one of them. Let your kids make their own decisions.

    • Derek Markham

      Renee – So if we make different choices than you would, we’re “stupid”? I’m wondering if you have children, and how many decisions you let them make. If they want to huff paint, or watch porn, or assault someone, or not go to school, you’d let them?

      I suppose that if I told you that we don’t even own a TV, and that my young kids rarely watch movies, that’s bad parenting as well? Get over yourself.

      And by the way, a comma is a punctuation mark that comes in very handy when writing sentences. It looks like this: , An apostrophe also comes in handy when showing possessiveness, but it is never, I repeat, never used before an s to denote a plural.

      Have a day.

  • Sandra Goldstein

    Well written and risky opinion to put out there. I would have elaborated a little bit more beyond the pictures to reflect the adult humor placed within these movies. My problem with the Disney movies was that in almost every single one a parent dies. I can’t think of anything more detrimental to a child than to lose a parent at a young age. Although it does happen, I don’t think it is a good idea to have it reflected in a series of movies. My daughter would not watch Sleeping Beauty. It scared her and made her cry. As parent’s it’s our job to protect our children and try to guide them down a proper path. Instead of sheltering my children, my husband and I were always up front and honest with them. If we watched a Disney movie we would point out the positive things they could learn and we would let them know about the unrealistic things to be aware of. Today I am proud to say that I raised 4 children who are well balanced and can think for themselves. They stayed out of trouble growing up and as young adults each one has become very successful.

  • Kara

    Funny I grew up watching these movies and even as an adult have watched the more recent ones, which by the way do not include the princess being saved by a prince. Seems I turned out just fine. I am in my master’s in forensic psychology, take tae kwon do, and have a successful career in the health care field. Tell me how I grew up believing a man could save me or how it’s ok for a man to think I don’t have anything important to say or that I allow one to lie to me. It’s about the values you instill in your children yourself. If you believe those to be shaky or do not have faith in them, then it is likely you would not trust your children to make the correct decisions as they grow and become adults, which would be the reason to avoid Disney movies. Seriously? What things were you exposed to as a child that you would not allow your children to be exposed to today? Did you come out just fine? I would say you did, since you have a genuine concern over your children’s well being. Every story can have a negative message, but it is up to you to teach your children that even when things look their worst there’s light at the end of the tunnel and something positive can come out of it. That’s the message Disney taught. Cinderella: you work hard, treat others the way you want to be treated and it pays off (in the end you are respected and valued by both your true love and society not because you used your looks to get you somewhere); Sleeping Beauty: even though there is evil in the world there are still many good people that are by your side and will help you through; Beauty and the Beast: there can be good in everyone – don’t get so bent out of shape if someone didn’t respond to you the way you wanted them to, because you don’t know their whole story or what they’re going through. I won’t do them all, because I honestly don’t think it will matter, but I’ve said my peace. Good luck to you all. I respect your decisions, but do not criticize those that do not share the same view.

  • While I do see your point in regard to princess “culture”, I think you’re actually way off base with the Little Mermaid. In the movie the movie Prince Eric and Ariel fall in love at the beginning of the movie after she saves his life. When she trades away her voice for legs he actually dosn’t fall in love with her. He chooses to marry the sea witch in disguise who is using Ariel’s voice. I haven’t seen the movie in ages but I’m pretty sure that Ariel, Eric and Ariel’s father are all involved in the battle at the end. I think the movie actually has a pretty nice message of be yourself and go after what you want.


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