How Disney’s Princesses Influence Body Image: The Evolution And Effects - Mt.sac/ English 1A - Essay

1934 words - 8 pages

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Kerilos Fanous
Professor Lee
English 1A
21 January 2019
How Disney’s Princesses Influence Body Image: The Evolution and Effects
Television, film and other media play a large and influential role in shaping young children's
expectations about their own gender and body, particularly in young girls. These are the most
influential princesses dating back to the first: Snow White (from 1937’s​ ​Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs​),​ ​Cinderella​ ​(1950), Aurora from​ ​Sleeping Beauty​ (1959), Ariel from​ ​The Little
Mermaid​ ​(1989), Belle from​ ​Beauty and the Beast​ (1991), Jasmine from​ ​Aladdin​ ​(1992),
Pocahontas​ ​(1995),​ ​Mulan​ ​(1998), Tiana from​ ​The Princess and the Frog​ (2009), Rapunzel from
Tangled​ ​(2010) and Merida from​ ​Brave​ ​(2012). Disney’s princesses have long been criticized as
sexist, with too much emphasis on looking pretty and marrying a rich man. The more recent films,
starting with​ ​Beauty and the Beast​, seem to have taken these criticisms to heart, with increasingly
strong and independent female protagonists.​ ​Brave​ ​even ends without the princess finding a man
at all. But the films continue to struggle to represent strong relationships between female
characters. Despite advances in the rhetoric on race and gender, Disney lags in advancing their
portrayal of body image. Princesses and other female protagonists are often displayed with size
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zero waists, skinny limbs, and even small feet. This unnatural and unhealthy body size presented
in Disney's animated characters, however, is what society calls for. The "thin ideal" has existed in
American culture since the 1930s, and it is still increasingly prevalent today in almost all forms of
Body image is a person's perception of the​ aesthetics​ or​ sexual attractiveness​ of their own
body. ​Human society​ has at all times placed great value on beauty of the human body, but a
person's perception of their own body may not correspond to society's standards. Body image can
have a wide range of psychological effects and physical effects. Throughout history, it has been
extremely difficult for people to live up to the standards of society and what they believe the ideal
body is. There are many factors that lead to a person’s body image, some of these include: family
dynamics, mental illness, biological predispositions and environmental causes for obesity or
malnutrition, and cultural expectations. In most societies, thinness is typically associated with
happiness, success, youthfulness, and social acceptability. This ideal is heavily portrayed
throughout the mainstream media, whereby women are assumed to be perfect in every way. The
emphasis on thinness and on an ideal female body shape and size is psychologically detrimental
to the well-being of many young women. Many have thus resorted to grooming, dieting, and
surgical pursuits, in order to be happy.
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Technology is now a part of the early childhood which allows them easy access to media....

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