Should Disney Princesses Depict ‘Reality’?

by Colette Moran

A few months ago I joined those who objected to the overglamorized version of the heroine Merida from Brave on Disney’s website. While I don’t have a problem with a princess who is dressed to the nines, I preferred that the Scottish lass remain a rugged tomboy. But many moms struggle with whether or not it’s okay to expose our daughters to movies that tell tales of finding a prince and living happily ever after wearing a tiara and a ball gown.

But, of course, that is hardly what the Disney characters are all about, especially in more recent years. Sure it’s more of a stretch to make the feminist case for older movies like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, (although I believe they can be made), but ever since Ariel fought the villain side by side with her prince and Belle delighted in the world of literature while patiently calming a wild beast Disney has made a point with each subsequent leading lady to portray women of strength and independent means who sometimes happen to choose a princely mate. (And sometimes not.)

These are intended to be simple fairy tales, but that doesn’t stop haters from feeling they have to make a mockery of their divergence from reality. The latest is a photo series called “Fallen Princesses” that shows the Disney characters dealing with “real world” problems like obesity and cancer. But of course it also has to throw in not-so-ordinary problems like plastic surgery addiction and being a “cat lady.”

Snow White struggles to keep her head above water with several kids, and a prince who can’t find work.

 The photo I most take issue with is this one that shows Snow White with several small children and an “unemployed” husband. 

I don’t find it that hard to teach my daughters to distinguish between fantasy and reality. They don’t need in-your-face artists to tell them what the world is really like. And the example they will follow is the one that I, and the other strong women in their lives, have set for them. And, whether or not they face the future with a prince charming by their side as I did, they will know there is nothing wrong with escaping to a fantasy world now and again.