Fixing the Princess Problem
by Lauren Sousa | published Mar. 10th, 2014
Since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premiered in 1937, Disney has preached the same message to viewers: meet The One, fall in love and live happily ever after. Cinderella suffered until she was magically made beautiful, met her prince at a party and married him days later. This pattern continued for Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and Rapunzel. To the impressionable mind of a young girl this sends a huge message.
That’s over 75 years’ worth of girls raised on the same propaganda; generations of young women believing that they have to find a man to be happy. But in 2013, Disney reversed its message with the feature film “Frozen,” challenging the ideals that had been spread for years and showing that there are other ways to finding happiness. This new message will not only start to undo the damage of the past but will also promote a brighter future for the next generation.
Anna and Elsa, the film’s protagonists, find true love in each other, proving that the love of sisters is stronger than any prince. Furthermore, the characters actually speak out against the old ideals. When Anna wants to marry Hans after first meeting that day, Elsa refuses to let her: “You can’t marry a man you just met.”
Perhaps the greatest advance the film made was when Elsa embraced her identity. We are first introduced to her as a princess forced to hide what makes her unique and clearly miserable. When she brakes free and accepts who she is, she transforms into a beautiful, strong and confident young woman.
Our generation, as well as our parents’ generation, grew up watching these princesses achieve happiness through finding a prince, only after achieving physical perfection through completely unobtainable means. This has created a need to reach “perfection,” through whatever means necessary. College-aged women spend hours in front of mirrors fixing their makeup, trying on clothes and doing whatever is necessary to reach their understanding of this perfection.
Unfortunately most of the damage has been done. These films contributed to generations of women with poor self-esteem, who are obsessed with their appearance and dependent on relationships to maintain their happiness. But perhaps with the new princesses these women can see that it’s okay to be flawed and being themselves is the key to their happily ever after.
Now our children can thrive on Anna and Elsa and forge their own paths. Their princes will not defined them and their appearance will be a reflection of who they are, not what they think they need to be. Moreover these girls will be strong, confident, and independent — masters of their own happiness.