Disney’s Distortion of Awesome Princesses through Merchandise, Part 2

This is a continuation of this post here.

Mulan

Above you can see the distortion of Mulan through Disney’s revamp of its princesses. While I already dislike the marketing of Mulan in anything but soldier gear, I don’t want to hate on femininity too much, because femininity is awesome. And being feminine doesn’t mean you’re not a badass or tough or strong. But what I DO dislike about the marketing of Mulan is that Disney seems to forget that Mulan was a soldier and pretended to be a man for over half the film. She hated dressing up and being a puppet.

Disney whitened Mulan’s skin and redesigned her dress to be sparkly. Perhaps the most disgusting retouching they did of this princess is her eyes and hair. I don’t think the Mulan we know would be caught dead in something like this. So why does Disney market her like this? Because they socialize little girls to believe that being sparkly and unrealistically beautiful is what a princess should be.

 Cinderella

Cinderella is also dramatically reimagined for this newer marketing campaign. Take, for example, the difference in size of her ribcage, the enlargement of her eyes and mouth, and they narrowed her shoulders.  Cinderella has been all around shrunk to fit the current version of the beauty myth. With Cinderella already being a problematic story, there’s no reason to confuse girls even more about their place or what they’re supposed to be.

Now that I’ve shown you what to look for in the redesigns of our beloved characters, here are some more for comparison:


All in all, please do not be distracted by the sparkles and red carpet glam Disney painted these women with. Think about the images you’re surround by and how they are edited to fit a certain corporation’s agenda.

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Real, Badass Women Turned Sparkly Princesses

Last fall, artist David Trumble came out with a series of art pieces called “World of Women” where he took real women and princessified them. His intent is pretty awesome. This statement is take from Women You Should Know. Great satire is my favorite form of comedy as well as feminism, and here it is to be shared with you all.

“This was a response to the furor kicked up over the glossy ‘princessification’ of Pixar’s Merida character, both in image and doll form. I drew this picture because I wanted to analyze how unnecessary it is to collapse a heroine into one specific mold, to give them all the same sparkly fashion, the same tiny figures, and the same homogenized plastic smile.

“My experience of female role models both in culture and in life has shown me that there is no mold for what makes someone a role model, and the whole point of Merida was that she was a step in the right direction, providing girls with an alternative kind of princess. Then they took two steps back, and painted her with the same glossy brush as the rest. So I decided to take 10 real-life female role models, from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and filter them through the Disney princess assembly line.

“The result was this cartoon, which earned equal parts praise and ire from readers. Some didn’t get the joke, some disagreed with it, others saw no harm in it at all and wanted to buy the doll versions of them… it was a polarizing image, but I suppose that’s the point. The statement I wanted to make was that it makes no sense to put these real-life women into one limited template, so why then are we doing it to our fictitious heroines?

“Fiction is the lens through which young children first perceive role models, so we have a responsibility to provide them with a diverse and eclectic selection of female archetypes. Now, I’m not even saying that girls shouldn’t have princesses in their lives, the archetype in and of itself is not innately wrong, but there should be more options to choose from. So that was my intent, to demonstrate how ridiculous it is to paint an entire gender of heroes with one superficial brush.

“But that’s just me.” – David Trumble

 

Disney’s Distortion of Awesome Princesses through Merchandise, Part 1

When you walk down the aisles of a toy store, it is fairly clear where boys and girls are expected to shop. Toy aisles are color-coded for an easy gender prescription. While most Disney princesses are the same old trope and conform easily into sexist merchandising, what happens to the princesses are a little more….untraditional? Turns out they are warped from their positions of individualism and power into the same cookie-cutter shape traditional princesses are in. Here are a few examples.

Merida

In case you missed it, when Disney released a makeover of their Princesses last May, quite a few people were upset with Merida’s makeover. Every body part — including her foot — were slimmed down. Her eyes got bigger and make up was applied. Her dress was lightened in color, made more feminine with golden etching and glitter. And, perhaps the worst offense of all, her weapon was removed from her grip.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas is one of the most problematic WoC in Disney. She is unfairly comandeered by white culture and morale with her tale with no respect for her ethnic background and Native American culture with preference to her tribe (essentially, her story woul be the same if she was replaced with a white woman). Still, Pocahontas persists as the strong princess that chose to stay with her people and her family rather than leave it all behind for the white boy she had met and had a fling with. Pocahontas’ merchandise is more damaging to Native American people than even her motion picture.

In the same makeover that had Disney fans stirring about the presentation of Merida as a Princess, Pocahontas was also redone.

You can see here that jewels were added to her buckskin getup. She was given earrings, her eyes got larger and more doe-like, her torso got thinner, and the necklace she got from her father was made shinier. Makeup was applied. She was all around glamourized with an appreance that looks like it belongs more on the Oscars’ red carpet rather than in the trees.

Disney’s marketing and merchandising strategy with Pocahontas also leads to cultural appropriation of Native American customs and way of life. This includes headdresses, Native American Halloween costumes, dream catchers, etc. Disney is literally cashing in on perpetuating racism.

Dissatisfied Princesses

This is a cute video created by YouTube user AVByte that criticizes Disney’s princess stereotype. The princesses featured in the video (Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle) are lectured by Queen Elsa on their refusal to critically think about their story lines. Princesses such as Pocahontas, Mulan, and Merida are omitted, perhaps because their story line does not revolve around finding love but on other factors and AVByte’s criticism might not have held up.

This video exposes many of the problems that are prevalent within the older princess films. While progress has been made with films such as Frozen and Brave, old princess tropes are still prevalent and surround our young girls. Even though Snow White and Cinderella are older films, I grew up watching them and even though I am now in my twenties I still see young girls enjoying them. The presence of criticism such as this cutesy YouTube clip is uplifting, however, because videos such as this can spur discussion among mothers and their daughters about what being a girl and a woman means. And even newer Disney princess films such Tangled fall under this trope, with Rapunzel being saved from Mother Gothel by Flynn Rider and never given the chance to grow outside of someone else.

Girls need to recognize that they need to develop as themselves first, then worry about falling in love. Love is an incredible human emotion and should be experienced by everyone one way or another, either between siblings such as in Frozen, family such as in Brave, between friends,  or between those in a consensual relationship. Dialogue such as this video needs to exist to bring light to the fact that men are not the be all and end all. While these older stories may center around the woman character, the real story is about finding and keeping a man. So are the stereotypical Disney princess movies really about women? ‘Cause it really seems to revolve around men.