Disney’s discrimination

Dristy Rahman deconstructs the mythic reality that Disney represents.

There’s nothing that a little fairy dust can’t fix? Pshff! Reality check: there is nothing that fairy dust can fix. Magic, angels, godmothers, fairy dust, genies, flying carpets — THEY DO NOT EXIST! It’s about time we stop living in a fantasy world painted by Walt Disney and start living in the real world, like rationalists.

I don’t understand how Disney princesses seem to love waking up in the morning and still look cheerful. I don’t know about you, but when I hear my alarm going off I hit snooze, wipe the dribble off my face and go back to sleep. Let’s not forget how their long flowing locks are strong enough to pull a man up a tower. Oh, yours doesn’t do that? Mine neither. I hate how they own beautiful gowns to wear to fancy balls handpicked by their very own fairy godmother. Where is my Godmother? Ugh. When I have NOTHING to wear no fairy god mother ever shows up. Wait, from now on, I’m going to start making all of my own clothes! I’ve seen Cinderella like a hundred times. How hard could it be?

sub-buzz-10329-1488918996-1I want a pet raccoon, some rats, oh and birds too. They have a mild temperament, wicked braiding skills and unparalleled affection such as snugly feral kittens. They sing, they dance, they sew and they love to be loved in the Disney world. In reality you can’t even get your cat to look at you, let alone cuddle them! That Disney dream of meeting the man of your dreams and marrying him after he’s dropped everything to chase you down and live happily ever after is nothing but a soul crushing hope which is only meant for the television. Reality? Spend Friday nights on the sofa and watch Netflix (no chill). You can’t even think of talking to a stranger let alone dance together in a dark secluded alleyway. *hints* *rape*

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bash on Disney films or demand that they be taken out of circulation. I might not be a lifelong Disneyland pass-holder, but I treasure my childhood films and memories just as much as the next person and I’ve been known to rock out to ‘Hakuna Matata’ more times than is probably cool to say. I think it’s important to realise that Disney films aren’t the ideal children’s movies that we make them out to be, for several reasons. Disney movies perpetuate certain social stereotypes that were prevalent at the time the movies were made, or disseminate discriminatory attitudes that reveal social flaws we should be careful not to support. Admittedly, countless other types of movies do these things as well, but, in the interest of brevity, this article is just going to focus on Disney films.

Remember how Princess Jasmine gets forced to marry in order to claim the throne? One thing which always bothered me was Jasmine wasn’t allowed to rule her kingdom by herself, or maybe even at all. Ariel seemed to be a little more independent and almost rebellious than the earlier princesses. Then she falls in love with a prince (whom she cannot have because he is human) and gives up her voice for legs, ultimately losing her friends and family to stay with him. Girls’, changing yourself is what you should never do for love!

History of the Disney princess films first emerged with the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Two notable classics that soon followed were Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959). These older films began the Disney princess franchise, grasping the attention of many girls. Cinderella is the ultimate ‘happily ever after’ fairy tale. She was a servant in her own home, seen doing domestic work and serving her family members. Same goes for Snow White, who seemed to never give up on household chores. Listen, just because she is a woman, it does not mean she has to do all the work. I don’t know any girl who just wants to clean, do laundry, and cook her entire life! Men are just as good at cooking and cleaning as women are, but of course only women are expected to do all of it. Women should be going out and making something of them if they choose to. I think it’s time for a change, what do you say Disney?

Cinderella is obedient, never stood up for herself, and teaches young girls that if you are beautiful enough, a wealthy prince will save you. In almost every Disney fairytale, the princess unquestionably and with minimal effort, manages to capture the heart and affection of a handsome and wealthy prince. None of the princess films show an alternative to that standard depiction of love and romance. Some may internalize the concept that women are expected to attain the love of a male who will provide the utmost life support. Many young girls identify with fairy-tale princesses, who are always described as exceedingly beautiful, thereby wishing to imitate their ideal representations of beauty. This assertion also illustrates the idea that beauty is a favourable quality, and that beauty triumphs all other personal characteristics.

Men are stereotyped as the dominant gender role, possessing a position of leadership and tremendous strength. In the popular Disney film, Beauty and the Beast (1991), Gaston, an exceedingly arrogant and strong-willed character, states his dissatisfaction with Princess Belle’s deviation from ideal female characteristics. He says, ‘It’s not right for a woman to read.’ Gaston’s statement highlights the conventional idea that women are not supposed to concentrate on intellectual behaviours. As indicated by many of the films, women should aspire to achieve the ultimate goal in life; get married to a supportive and wealthy male figure.

Many of the more recently released princesses convey some inspirational and positive messages. Princess Tiana sought to open a restaurant, in addition to the ongoing romance throughout the film. Although some Disney princesses, like Jasmine and Tiana, display resistance to forced marriage and pursue different alternatives, they ultimately end up obtaining the affection of a desired male character. However, this article would be incomplete without the mention of Frozen. It showed the very things that other movies failed to. Elsa taught us that you can’t just marry a boy you just met. The act of true love has nothing to do with a man, and family always comes first.

Rapunzel, also falls under this category by not falling in love at first sight and wanted freedom and independence. Merida was a powerful Disney princess in the movie Brave, becoming the hero in the end; a refreshing new look at a Disney princess. Brave was the first Disney movie that didn’t feature a prince charming at all. Movies like this with strong female roles have a positive impact on young girls. In order to get things in life you have to go out and work for them. You can’t just magically expect good things to happen. Don’t aim to be a princess, aim to be the King. Faith, trust, and pixie dust? How about confidence, independence, and a little hard work!


Dristy Rahman is a blunt rationalist who likes to drown herself in positivity and a progressive outlook on life.


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