I am as much of a self-proclaimed Disney freak now as I was at four when I watched “The Little Mermaid” on permanent repeat, as evidenced by the fact that my dad can still sing “Part Of Your World” flawlessly. When I watch the opening scenes I literally tear up occasionally, partially because I’m filled with joy and partially because hearing the opening songs now takes me back so vividly to when I was just a little girl who dreamed of growing a scaly tail and breathing underwater, which now sounds creepier than it does cute.
Those movies defined my childhood, and I give credit to pretty much every princess for helping create the badass woman writing this article right now. Maybe not Aurora, since she still pricked her dumb finger, but definitely the rest of them. But that’s an unpopular opinion these days.
Disney princesses have had it rough lately, and have been bearing a lot of blame for teaching young girls gender stereotypes and harmful body image, which does make sense to me to some extent, since the princesses have waists that are like 14 inches around.
And now, according to a new study performed by Brigham Young University, preschoolers who play with Disney princess toys and watch the corresponding movies are more likely to develop gender stereotype beliefs that can be harmful in the long run, especially for girls. The study also showed that the more the girls engaged with the princess toys, the more likely they were to develop self-esteem issues. Basically, if you like Disney princesses, you’ll be fucked up emotionally forever. Awesome.
Of course, they’re great for boys, though. Boys who played with princess toys had better body esteem, the study showed, and were more helpful to others. What the hell? Is everything in the world harmful to a girl’s self-esteem? Watching Pocahontas school some people on compassion and acceptance or watching Mulan sacrifice herself for the well-being of her family fucking inspired me. Just because Snow White cleaned didn’t make me feel like that was all I was good for. I did dream of having hair that would be as perfect in the wind as Pocahontas’s, though, so yes, actually, I’d like to blame my windy hair insecurity on her specifically.
The orchestrator of the study, Professor Sarah M. Coyne, also suggests that moderation in Disney princess toys might be helpful—not getting rid of them entirely, and not exclusively letting your kid play with an Elsa doll. No, shit. Why is it necessary for a study to tell us this? Moderation works in literally every world scenario.
I loved Disney princess movies, still do, and I turned out just fine because I had *gasp* real-life role models to look up to, who weren’t dolls, and I played with other toys, too. There’s your answer. Disney princesses aren’t the entire problem. Let your kid play with them if he or she wants. Just make sure those toys aren’t their only option, and let them know that if their hair doesn’t blow in the wind like Pocahontas’s, they’re going to be just fine..