The Paw Print
Most—if not all—fairy tales end with, “…and they all lived happily ever after.” This is a simple way tao end the story if you were reading it to a five-year-old, but it gives the child the impression that if she finds Prince Charming, everything in life will be hunky-dory for ever after.
However, that’s not how real life works. After college, people will move back home with their parents or try to survive in a small apartment. There is no fancy castle. People go through plenty of jobs before they find the one that fits. No one will wave their magic wand and just GIVE them a job; they have to put effort in. Bills have to be paid; there’s no money tree in the backyard. Cars break down, accidents happen, and there’s no fairy godmother to come to the rescue.
After five years of marriage and two kids, with a man whom the girl thought was Prince Charming turned out to be a lying, cheating jerk, and she has to go through this long, painful process called “filing for divorce.” The Disney Princess franchise has brainwashed girls to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to relationships, men, and how to behave as a woman in general.
The Disney Princess movies always end in happiness, love, and marriage, and that’s cute for a girl to fantasize what’s going to happen at her wedding, but the ‘happily ever after’ ending is short-lived. Disney fails to mention what happens after the wedding, therefore setting the girl up for a disastrous reality check if she really believes that the honeymoon phase of the relationship is supposed to last forever.
There is an argument that says that Disney stresses it is merely catering to an important developmental stage for young girls. Well, the important developmental stage that Disney caters to screws girls over later on when it comes to their love life.
Thanks to Disney, as soon as a guy says, “I love you” to a girl, she’ll jump to conclusions and start planning the perfect Disney Princess wedding in her head, right down to the sparkly tiara and poofy ball gown. However, her heart will be shattered into a million pieces when she finds out that the guy loves her “like a sister” or even worse: “platonically” a word that is code for the expression of love that does not qualify as romantic love.
According to Mattell, the creator of Barbie, a popular game young girls play involves the idea of marriage. Disney found that a groom or a prince is necessary to play the game. Girls keep their Prince Charming doll around for the climactic kiss, but after that, it’s back to the bottom of the toy box. A boyfriend or a husband is not a toy. He is a human being, with feelings, and he should be treated like one, darn it.
The Disney Princess franchise includes: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana (Princess and the Frog). How to behave according to Disney Princesses is subject to generational differences.
Snow White (1937), Cinderella (1950), and Aurora’s (1959) movies focused on being domestic. Their movies gave little girls the impression that if you seduce a prince with your beautiful singing voice, he will save you, take you to a castle and all of your dreams will come true. After taking a break for three decades, it was the time of the Disney Renaissance (the princess movies during this era were musicals). Ariel (1989), Belle (1991), and Jasmine (1992) continued the tradition of having a fabulous singing voice, but they emphasized to little girls that intelligence is also important. In regards to Ariel, one source says, “Her independence, determination to make her own choices and work towards what she wants are all positive qualities, which significantly, set her apart from the previous passive princesses.”
Qualities of a Disney princess evolved and became more realistic as the nineties went on. Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998), and Tiana (2009) all encouraged girls in their movies: it’s an added bonus if you have a good singing voice, but it’s more important to be smart AND independent. Mulan went against societal norms and pretended to be a man, so she could enlist in the army to protect her father from death.
Compared to princesses like Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White—who said “I do” after five minutes of knowing the guy—Pocahontas actually questioned if she wanted to marry Kocoum (which promotes the idea that it’s better to marry out of love instead of going through an arranged marriage because it’s convenient for others). Tiana’s main goal was to save up for her own restaurant, but she wasn’t going to let the fairy godmother wave her magic wand and, like magic, Chez Tiana would appear out of thin air. She showed little girls that you aren’t served everything on a silver platter and in order to accomplish your goals, you’ll need to earn it through hard work.
To those who liked the story of Cinderella, their hearts will be shattered when they find out that they have been lied to as children. In the Disney version, Cinderella’s dad is dead, there’s an evil stepmom, and in the end, she marries the prince with a glass slipper. In the original fairy tale, Cinderella wanted to kill the stepmom so her dad could marry the housekeeper, who had six kids. Since it’s Disney, murder is much too graphic for small children, so they had to tweak it to make it family appropriate.
Those who prefer the story of Aurora and liked her because she was pretty learned the Sleeping Beauty story as the story of a pretty princess who is under a spell and can only be woken up by her true love’s kiss. There is a happy ending because she marries a prince. In the original story, the princess is under a spell, but she gets impregnated by a king while bewitched. She’s woken up by the sound of giving birth to twins, and she ends up marrying the guy who knocked her up. No wonder Disney sugarcoated it. If they followed the original Sleeping Beauty story, small children would be traumatized!
The story of Ariel is popular because with girls because she is a mermaid or because they are named after her character. Mulan is popular because she is a badass, sticks up for herself, and kicks butt. Tiana’s story is realistic and sends a positive message to girls by showing them that hard work is required for dreams to come true, her popularity is generally a result of her status as the only Disney Princess that is black.
Jasmine and Belle are the most popular, and the most realistic, of the nine Disney Princesses. Girls talked about how smart and relatable she was in their answers. One girl I spoke to put it perfectly. “Belle puts Gaston in his place and she’s willing to see past the surface to fall in love with the Beast.” Girls like Jasmine because she is pretty, but there are other redeeming qualities about her. One girl said, “Jasmine, because she shows strength and willingness to take care of herself without needing a man.” Another girl said, “Jasmine from Aladdin because she wasn’t afraid to love someone she wasn’t supposed to.” Jasmine is a princess, and according to her society, princesses aren’t supposed to fall in love with street rats like Aladdin.
I blame the Disney Princesses for why I don’t have a boyfriend. The Disney Princesses have convinced girls to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to men because they jump to conclusions as soon as they hear, “I love you.”
How a girl should behave, according to the Disney Princesses, is a generational difference because societal expectations of women have changed over the years. Little girls who grew up in the 1950s were taught to be domestic goddesses like June Cleaver, while girls who grew up in the 90’s were taught to be smart and independent.
I am still single at 19 years old because the Disney Princess franchise has negatively influenced how I view relationships and gave me unrealistic expectations for how men should act in the process of courting me. Since I now know the truth behind the Disney Princess franchise and how they have brainwashed little girls, I can look past the sugar-coated “happily ever after” ending and be on the hunt to find myself the kind of man who actually exists.