By: Meghan Steingold
Princess Ariel, a young prepubescent girl, with what Disney wants you to believe is the “perfect” body. Cinderella, Jasmine, Aurora, all alike possess the features that the media uses to convince young children what is “beautiful”. While the princesses are helpless and delicate, the men are muscular and always defeat the enemy through violence. Hercules, a young masculine guy, who is superior to the woman, is the hero and what Disney perceives to be the ideal man. Prince Eric, Aladdin, Tarzan each exhibits the very same traits. The story of The Little Mermaid pretty much tells young girls that they don’t need a voice, and that they can get what they yearn for through their looks. Hercules teaches young boys about the superiority of strength and violence. Young minds are impressionable, easily tamed and shaped. What they surround themselves with growing up will effect how they view themselves in the future. Subconsciously, they will always refer to the first impressions that their animated idols provided them.
Every princess has their own “damsel in distress” cliché that makes her appear inferior to the protagonist males. They are personified with many different traits that make them seem “beautiful” and even sexual. Princess Ariel, a mermaid, obviously does not wear much clothing. A seashell bra and a waist that could not be realistically attainable are used to objectify her character. She is very sexualized, and this is a character that is used as a role model for children? This is the message Disney sends to its young viewers—the perfect girl. Because girls are so easily pinpointed in their movies, does not mean the same image is not provided for the male subjects. They are always made out to be the very masculine, and charming heroes. Hercules, an obvious example of the perfectly engineered male, gets the girl and defeats the villain: the dream every young boy aspires to after being exposed to such an image.
Their movies and television channel alike provide this concept of what girls and boys are supposed to look like and how they are expected to behave. Former Disney star, Demi Lovato suffered from eating disorders due to the pressures the company evoked. When the show, Shake It Up, made a joke about eating disorders, Lovato was livid and publicized Disney’s faults through her very influential Twitter account. According to Fox News, Lovato tweeted, “What are we promoting here? #notfunnyATALL. I find it really funny how a company can lose one of their actress’ from the pressures of an EATING DISORDER and yet still make [a] joke about that very disease”(Fox News, 12/27/11).
In addition to how their different forms of media exemplify the princesses and princes, their real life impersonators in Disney World also have to adhere to the perfection of their characters. Each princess has their very own height restriction, and of course has to be in shape and “skinny.” They have to be realistic enough to convince the children that such an appearance can be attained (Disneyauditions.com).
Disney: the world of imagination, magic and fantasy, where any child can be anything they want and set their mind free. But is this perception the truth? Isn’t it just fallacy, like the storylines they tell? Can they really be what they want? Or do they just think they can, while still subconsciously conforming to Disney’s ideals. The company gets inside these vulnerable minds and molds them until they share the same beliefs. Princess Ariel and Hercules both alike, are whom Disney wants its’ viewers to imitate, and although unknowingly, imitate they will.