Female Stereotypes in Disney films
This trope or theme is featured in most of the early Disney princess films. Like for example, Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora are constantly waiting for their true love. Each of these princesses are white, tall and thin and also, have a small waist. Each princess has unrealistic beauty standards. They portray an unrealistic sense of beauty and love to young girls.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937):
Snow White displays several specific gender stereotypes in society. She is usually seen doing domestic chores around the house, nurturing the dwarves and the animals. She is also naïve enough to take a bite of the poisonous apple. She is saved by her Prince Charming. Snow White gives a message to young girls that your duties are cleaning, taking care of others, and waiting for a prince to save you
Cinderella is the ultimate “happily ever after” fairytale. Usually, Cinderella is the servant of her own home, and usually seen doing domestic chores and serving her family members. She is diligent and obedient and doesn’t stand up for herself to her evil stepmother and stepsisters. She eventually falls in love with her Prince Charming, who saves her from her miserable, servant life. Cinderella teaches young girls that if you are beautiful enough, a wealthy prince will save you.
3. Aurora(Sleeping Beauty 1959):
Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is born a diva. Prince Philip falls in love with her at first sight, and saves her from her death with a kiss. The love at first sight belief is something that society instills in young girls. As a young girl, it instills that beauty is the most important asset of a girl’s life.
Renaissance and The Princesses Change
Ariel, Belle and Jasmine belong to the next category. Although their stories revolve around love, these princesses fight for their love and are not waiting to be saved by a prince. However, some of the gender stereotypes are still prevalent.
4. Ariel (The Little Mermaid 1989)
Ariel is independent, and a bit rebellious than the previous princesses. Once, she falls in love with a prince, who she cannot love since he is a human, she is willing to do whatever it takes to get him. She relentlessly sacrifices her voice, for legs, in order to get her Prince Charming.
5. Belle (Beauty and the Beast 1991)
The name Belle means beauty in French. Belle is similar to the earlier Disney princesses, white, thin and beautiful. But Belle is intelligent and clever, and loves to read, which is something unique and different from the previous princesses. Even though her relationship with the Beast at first represents an abusive relationship between a prince and a princess. Belle is seen as a nurturer cum housekeeper- two typical female roles.
6. Jasmine (Aladdin 1992):
Jasmine is born into a royal family and is strictly told to marry a prince. She defies her father and wants to marry someone she loves. This is a positive thing for young girls to learn, a consent for marriage. However, some of the gender stereotypes still remain. Jasmine uses her sexuality to distract Jafar- the villain. In the end Jasmine fights for what she wants, marries Aladdin and lives happily ever after
Stronger Female Role Models
This next category features princesses with a little more independence and strength.
Disney’s Pocahontas features a strong, independent and compassionate girl who follows her intuition. Even though she falls in love, she stands up for John Smith, ultimately saving his life.
Mulan is a powerful, brave and independent Disney princess. She defied the stereotypical female roles and portrayed a male character in order to save her father. This is not a love story. Mulan does not rely on a prince to save her.
9. Tiana (Princess and the Frog 2009):
Tiana is the first Black princess to be featured in a Disney film. Tiana is a princess with a dream, one that was missing in the previous princesses. She dreams of owning a restaurant. She kisses a frog, but ends up becoming a frog, and helps him find a cure. Her story breaks several gender stereotypes.
10. Rapunzel (Tangled 2010):
Even though the story of Rapunzel is a classic fairy tale, Disney has put its own spin on it. Rapunzel doesn’t wait fall in love with the prince at first sight. All she wants is freedom from her tower.
11. Merida(Brave 2012):
In the film, Merida is a princess but she doesn’t want a Prince Charming. It is the first Disney Princess movie that does not feature a prince. Merida is a strong and an independent young woman who ends up being a hero.