Do Disney Princesses Perpetuate Stereotypes?

disney princessesParents often consider Disney movies safe for their young children and many of these films are, compared to many other films targeted to kids. But research has found that Disney princess movies might have some negative effects. The study looked at almost 200 preschoolers and found “96 percent of girls and 87 percent of boys had viewed Disney Princess media.” 61% of girls and only 4% of boys played with princess toys at least once a week.

“For both boys and girls, more interactions with the princesses predicted more female gender-stereotypical behavior a year later.” Girls who adhere to female gender stereotypes are “not as confident that they can do well in math and science” and they experiment less because they don’t want to get dirty. For boys it was found that those who watched Disney princess movies were more helpful to others and had better body esteem. It seemed to “provide a needed counterbalance to the hyper-masculine superhero media that’s traditionally presented to boys.”

Disney princesses are usually the first exposure 3 and 4 year olds get to the idea of thin being beautiful. It was found that girls with poorer body esteem engaged with more Disney Princesses throughout the years, because they seemed to be “seeking out role models of what they consider to be beautiful.”

Parents can’t completely avoid the Disney princess culture, so what can they do?

  • Parents can foster children’s interests in a variety of activities. “Moderation in all things” is usually best.
  • Parents can also take the time to talk to their children about the movies they watch. They can discuss the positives and negatives of Disney princess media at an age appropriate level.

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