Once a Princess, Always a Princess

by d
Clockwise from left: Jasmine, Pocahontas, Auro...

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It has been a plan of mine, for years, to go through the Disney Princess canon and analyze it. There’s a lot of generalizations made in news articles and nonfiction, but not too much in the way of specifics. So lets get specific. In fact, comedy has turned a focused lens on the Disney heroines, skewering them through parody and satire. Drawn Together‘s Princess Clara is basically a Disney-Princess-On-Speed, and even Disney has been able to laugh at itself through the blockbuster Enchanted.

This weekend, ABC Family is running Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is a great coincidence. It’s the first of the so-called princess films, made in 1937. It was also Disney’s first animated film, period. It is now 73 years old. It has not aged well. I’m going to watch it and write a full post about it. I plan to do this for the rest of the princess movies, too. (And, yes, we’ll be included the Disney Wannabes Anastasia and The Swan Princess, among others.)

These are my impressions of the film, my memories. But what I really want is to open the floor to everyone else to also send in your experiences with these films. For most of us here at Subterfuge our girlhoods intersected with Disney’s so-called Golden Era (approx. 1989-1998, or, The Little Mermaid to Mulan). They were made for us, marketed to us aggressively, and our peers devoured them. We were bombarded by Disney. So what did we think about it? As kids, what did we like and not like? As adults, what do we now see in them?

Please do comment here and on the forums about these films, any of them. If you have a lot to say, consider writing a full post about it.

Pop culture has shaped our generation in a myriad of ways that we are only now beginning to understand. This is one of the most crucial, as it targeted us as very young girls, and pitched us an ideal of womanhood.

There will be songs. There will be big dresses, and handsome, nameless princes. It may get ugly. We’ll see how it goes.

–Your Feminist Fairy Godmother, D

One Comment to “Once a Princess, Always a Princess”

  1. I actually don’t think I ever tried to model myself after any of the princesses. I sure did think a number of them were pretty, but mostly what I thought of was the faces when I said that. The hair. I liked Princess Aurora the best because she looked more like me. Fair skin, long blonde hair, blue eyes. I hoped to have a face as pretty as her’s one day! :p I didn’t start worrying about actual body image other than my face until people at school began to criticize me for it. And even then, I didn’t compare myself to the Disney princesses. I knew they were fake representations of reality made purely for whimsy and entertainment. They were fairy tale princesses in one way or another, and fairy tales are supposed to be akin to supernatural in that everything is a representation of reality but embellished and “fixed” to fit a societal mold of beauty and perfection. Even when I was really little I knew this. :p And, from what I’ve read, most little children then and today didn’t seem to mold themselves after Disney princesses, either. I’ve seen a lot of controversy over the Disney princesses, though, and their less-than-real bodies. A lot of people seem to want to blame them for eating disorders in children. But, I doubt that’s what it is. In fact, I’d be surprised if the Disney princesses played much of a role at all in that.

    However, when it comes to Disney it’s rarely hard to spot the bad guy (or bad girl) among the good ones. You can tell by the way they look, the way they’re dressed, and the way their make-up (for women especially) is in comparison to the others.

    I’m sure that Roxy should have something to say on this sooner or later, because I’ve had more than one conversation about such things with her in the past! :p

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