So, mostly due to Feminist Disney, I decided to sketch up some princesses that are needed in the Disney lineup. Not necessarily these girls, specifically, but the concept. Now, I realize I missed many issues that are important. These things, for one reason or another, I believed were unrealistic of me to expect from Disney.
Princesses teach a lot for young kids. Marketing of princesses is advertised towards girls from a very young age, and they are introduced to these role models through immensely popular Disney movies. Disney is getting more progressive with their inclusion of many different races, but much more can be done. It is important to have a large variety of princesses to make an impact on children’s lives and on their tolerance of other people.
As a note, I am not a professional artist by any sense of the word, so my anatomy leaves a lot to be desired. They all have very similar faces, which is also the fault of my flawed style. Sorry!
The princesses, listed in colours from left to right -
Why she’s progressive: She is disabled.
A beautiful girl gets into an accident and ends up in a wheelchair. She learns that having a physical or mental disability doesn’t change who you are or make you any less beautiful, which teaches young kids a similar lesson.
Why she’s progressive: She faces discrimination because of the colour of her skin. While Disney has done similar things before, it was never the centre of the story. A coming-of-age story for a princess is rare, and would help kids understand why racial bias is nonsense.
Country: America (Sioux)
Why she’s progressive: She’s overweight, bombarded by the media’s messages that she is fat. Within her realization that she is a beautiful person inside and outside, it teaches kids that everyone is beautiful, and that people come in all shapes and sizes. Being fat doesn’t make you any less beautiful.
Why she’s progressive: She has alopecia totalis, or the lack of any body hair. Children with no hair for whatever reason can learn that not having any hair doesn’t make you any less beautiful, as this princess learns to shed her wig and love herself for who she is.
Why she’s progressive: She is a feminist in a time of rampant misogyny. Trying to defy gender roles while telling young kids that not all feminists are crazy man-haters who run around and burn bras.
Why she’s progressive: She is autistic. While she finds out who she is and learns that her autism doesn’t affect her personality, children learn that disorders aren’t anything to be afraid or embarrassed about.
Why she’s progressive: She is a lesbian. While she grows up and finds her friends love to talk about boys, she is worried about being unable to relate. She begins to realize that she likes girls. And as she learns that being attracted to the same sex isn’t something to be ashamed of, kids are comforted knowing that whoever you are/aren’t attracted to, your real friends will always love you for who you are.
word, I like such a list! The only thing I would probably change in my own personal lineup, if I were to make one, is that I wouldn’t want the movies to focus on their “progressiveness” so much. Or maybe I would want a double list where all of this happens, and then all of it also happens with the focus just being on the storyline that is independent of their progressiveness. For example, “She learns that having a physical or mental disability doesn’t change who you are or make you any less beautiful.” It’s a good teaching moment but I feel like so many times that disabled characters appear in tv or in movies, it’s usually because someone wants to give us a teaching moment about real beauty- like the character isn’t allowed to exist unless it’s teaching us more abled people a lesson about life. I’d like one disabled princess to never doubt from the beginning that she is beautiful and disabled, and have doubts about something else. :)
yes, what feministdisney said. progressive disney princesses movies should have them have adventures whilst just happening to be poc, queer, disabled, etc. if your whole movie revolves around how they’re not *normal* you are still positioning them as the Other. and that is. not. progress.
also, i’m sorry, but all of your princesses are white as fuck. your kenyan princess looks white. that is not okay.
next: a feminist in the time of rampant misogyny? do you mean, like, NOW? i love me some movies about feminists from history but i feel like having a film like that risks giving off an idea that it’s all in the past. that women fought that battle and won and feminism is not needed anymore. obviously, not true.
also, autism ‘doesn’t affect your personality’? yes, it does, in very important ways. it looks like you haven’t educated yourself on this point at all, and that’s a shame. if you’re going to talk about something, you should first know what the hell you’re talking about, don’t you think?
finally, i know that compared to what disney princesses normally look like, your pink princess looks progressive, but honestly? i wouldn’t say she’s fat at all. she looks (ugh i hate using it but for lack of a better word) average. her cheeks and chin are thin, so are her arms. her waist is not big nor are her hips. she has a flat stomach. her breasts are small. i want an actual fat princess.
YES. Ditto the above. “children learn that disorders aren’t anything to be afraid or embarrassed about” is a nice enough sentiment, but applesarefuckinghealthy is right that “autism doesn’t affect her personality” deserves a big huge WTF. Also while I know “disorder” is the standard language for autism and related conditions, and plenty of people in the autistic community accept that term, there are also plenty more who don’t like autism to be viewed as a “disorder,” or at least not a disability in the sense that, say, being paralyzed would be. You might want to do some research on neurodiversity, FYI (or the deaf community, which has a similar stance).
yeah and the fat princess is definitely not fat.
And another thing [warning, long rant ahead]:
what the goddamn hell, y’all. Can we please get over this “beauty” thing? I seem to remember a time when the message was, “physical beauty doesn’t matter, what matters is what’s on the inside,” but nowadays the only message I’m hearing is “everyone is beautiful, no matter what they look like!”
Um, I’m sorry, but no. Not everyone is beautiful, and no one is beautiful all the time. And you know what? THAT IS STILL OKAY. IT IS OKAY TO BE UGLY. THERE IS NO REASON WHY THAT SHOULD NOT BE OKAY. Somehow the backlash to our society’s obsession with judging people’s worth by their physical appearance has morphed into this weird hysterical denial that anyone ever in any situation is physically unattractive. And honestly, that is not any better.
Now, I understand that it’s about empowering people in a beauty-obsessed culture to find worth in themselves, and I’m totally cool with that! Fat acceptance, body positivity, and similar movements are great, and no one should be excluded from feeling sexy and/or beautiful because of societal standards of beauty. No one should be able to tell anyone else that they aren’t beautiful, because if I feel beautiful right now, I’m fucking beautiful, and you can go stuff it.
But if what we’re really about is freeing people from having their self-worth judged by their physical appearance, this does not address the root of the problem.
Anyone should be able to feel beautiful and sexy, but people should ALSO be able to feel ugly and non-sexy and still feel good about themselves as people. And just expanding the definition of beauty to the point of meaninglessness is NOT going to do that.
Even the most stunningly gorgeous people have days where they feel like a mess. We all do. And there’s no reason why we should have to walk around on those days stewing in self-loathing because we don’t happen to feel beautiful that day.
And you know what else? You can still love your body even when you don’t feel beautiful. Your body is an awesome machine, the vehicle that moves you through the world, and you can appreciate it and love how you feel in it and take care of it without believing that it adheres to some vague and mystical standard of aesthetics.
And if you’re about to jump up and say, “but that’s what we mean by beauty! feeling good about yourself and your body no matter what you look like! we’re reclaiming the word!” well then sit right the fuck back down. Because, as many of the people I follow are fond of saying, words mean things. And the word “beauty” is WAY too tangled up now with damaging cultural trends and complicated, negative bullshit to be repurposed so casually. We’re not helping things by reclaiming “beauty,” we’re just muddying the waters, mixing up a lot of really good ideas and really great sentiments with a lot of really awful ones, and I think we’re rapidly losing sight of where the good stuff ends and the bad stuff begins. And I think that needs to stop.
So can we just drop the whole beauty thing now?