Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/21228
This essay examines gender representation in the 11 films that constitute the official Disney Princess franchise, with the addition of the film Frozen, and how portrayal of gender has developed through the decades, from Disney’s first full-length animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Studies have shown that television plays an important part in how children learn gender roles. With The Disney Company leading the market for children’s entertainment, their influence is extensive. There is already a substantial amount of research that has been done on Disney Princesses and the gendered messages that they convey, along with the influence that they have on young girls. However, very little has been written on the male characters in these films and how their (often) unrealistic portrayal sends a harmful message to both boys and girls about what it means to be a man and how men should behave. This essay looks at both the female and the male leads in all Princess films and attempts to demonstrate how the portrayal of gender, typical gender roles and patriarchal values have changed in the last 80 years. In the beginning, the Disney Princess (Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora) was a helpless, domesticated and submissive damsel that had no control of her own fate and obligingly fell in love with the first prince that came along. The modern day Disney Princess is a headstrong, independent and ambitious young woman, who stands up to patriarchy and its misogynistic values, and takes control of her own destiny. Similarly, the Prince has evolved from being a nameless, voiceless rescuer without any characteristics or dialogue, to an emotionally relatable and thoughtful young man, a companion and friend to the Princess, but with a journey and ambitions of his own, and romance being an option, not a necessity.