Since 1923, the Walt Disney Company has grown with countless families from their days in tiny baby shoes, to their adult lives in the work world. Their unique animated films, resorts, and variety of products has been staples in every child’s memory for many years. The main concept that has helped Disney maintain their brand for such a prolonged period of time is the idea of “maintaining the magic,” in all of their products. This idea can be defined as creating a suitable environment for children and families to enjoy themselves without being subjected to inappropriate material. However, it is important to question how far Disney is willing to go uphold this ideal and whether it is truly justified. Since Disney plays such a big part in the growth of future generations, their products are worth putting in front of the looking glass.
As young girls grow up they are exposed to a variety of things that shape them into women. One of the earliest examples of this are the typical Disney princesses that are conveyed in their films and most of their other products. These beautified works of fiction are packaged as flawlessly beautiful, able to sing in a way that captures the hearts of anyone who hears them, and desperately in search of purpose in their lives. As young girls see these perfect women prancing across the movie screen with an alarming amount of forest animals following them, they tend to think “one day I wanna be just like her.” However, is this idea of an unrealistic and magically perfect woman something we want young girls to admire ?
Disney knows that their princess films appeal to this demographic of young girls. Parents and their daughters flock to giant stadiums spilling overpriced princess themed slushies every time their favorite princess comes out during the ice skating shows. This burst of excitement occurs because being to able to see a princess live is like meeting an idol for a child. Parents need to understand that the idea of “magic” is embedded in these princesses and instills not only a false image of what a woman should be, but a lure to make parents spend money on a product their children are convinced is worth admiring. From Ariel giving up her family to be with a man she has only known for a day, to Mulan having to change her gender in order to bring honor to her family, these are the concepts that are exposed to young children who watch these films.
For women who wish to find a job as a princess at one of Disney’s luxurious resorts, the process is both intimidating and incredibly strict. Essentially, those who wish to audition are placed into a large audition hall where they are forced to perform without any family or friends accompanying them. They are expected to dress in form fitting clothes that highlight the shape of their bodies in order to see if they physically match a princess’s figure. Finally and most surprisingly, after you audition, the Disney Casting Director is the one who decides which princess you are best physically suited for. Even if you performed that princess perfectly, if you are too fat to play Ariel or too short to be Mulan, you’re not going to make the cut.
There are certain women for have been “lucky” enough to actually survive this insane process and have nothing good to say about their experiences at the resorts. For example, women who play the role of princesses who wear little-to-no clothing such as Ariel or Pocahontas, are forced to be silent as men whisper grotesque things into their ears during meet and greet photos. There are other moments when parents themselves encourage their children to hit the princesses in order to make their child laugh. If the women react in any way, they are considered to be breaking character which is an easy way to get fired. Essentially, women who are part of the magical process of princess selection act as punching bags to a corporation that simply wishes to make money regardless of the consequences.
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