Thursday, May 13th, 2010...10:35 am

Why My Daughter Doesn’t Watch Disney Movies

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This is the first of two posts about Disney movies and why I don’t like my daughter to watch them. Part two should be up sometime next week.

Obligatory disclaimer before I even start writing this post: it’s about Disney movies, and, more specifically, Disney Princess movies. I realize that Disney has other movies and that Pixar’s owned by Disney, but for most people, when you say Disney, they hear “princesses”. So that’s what we’re talking about.

It comes up, from time to time, that Maura isn’t really allowed to watch Disney movies. This is less stridently enforced than it used to be, partly out of necessity—it was one thing when she was with me all of the time, but it’s another thing entirely to tell her daycare provider that she’s not allowed to watch Disney, especially when every other kid in the group knows and loves all of the movies already. But still, we only own The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog, and those aren’t standard viewing fare.

To most people my age, it seems, this is a completely heretical stance. Everyone pities Maura, whose crazy, crazy mother doesn’t want her to watch Disney movies. I have yet to find anyone who responds with “oh, thank god, my kid isn’t allowed to watch them, either.” (I have hope, though—surely someone else is bothered by this, right?)

Here’s the thing, though: I really, really hate Disney movies. Almost across the board, the Disney movies (at least those with people in them—I admit that I’ve seen very few of their animal-based animated films) hold up marriage, usually to someone completely inappropriate, as the holy grail. I remind you that these are films being marketed to children, and that the overwhelming message in the end is this: Be pretty and kind and good, and maybe someone who is wealthy and powerful will want you for his bride.

Note that I didn’t say his partner, or even his wife. No, he’ll want you for his bride, his beautiful trophy.

Usually when I try to explain this to people, they immediately demand to know if I’ve seen Mulan. Yes, I have. And no, Maura hasn’t.

For those of you who’ve not read the original poem upon which the movie was based, the whole point of the poem is that no one knew if she was a man or a woman, and it didn’t matter because in war we are all affected. Her comrades didn’t know that she was a woman until after the war was won, when she returned home clad as a woman. When this happens, it’s pointed out again that it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman, and that it’s society, not nature, that separates the two sexes.

So Disney’s interpretation of this—one in which she is outed as a woman early on, one in which it’s a plot point that she is a woman, leaves me cold. Mulan starts out promisingly: she’s not great at the feminine arts, and she runs off to join the army in her father’s place. And, okay, she’s made to look a fool in the early military training, but she soon proves herself and is as good and as strong as any of the men. That’s pretty awesome.

And then she falls in love with her commanding officer, Shang. Okay. It happens. Maybe he’ll respect her for her skills and abilities as a warrior! …Or, on the other hand, maybe she’ll single-handedly win a battle for the Imperial Army and save Shang in the same battle, getting badly injured in the process. When it’s revealed that she’s a woman, the Emperor’s advisor orders her killed. Instead of standing up for her, Shang suggests that they just leave her–wounded and alone–at the snowy mountain pass so that she can find her way home. I think that we’re meant to feel that he’s saved her life, but realistically, he’s just condemned her to a slow, painful death. Despite Shang’s betrayal, when Mulan finds out that her comrades are in danger because the Huns weren’t actually dead, she rides back to warn them. She gets there and Shang—oh. Well, that’s embarrassing. He brushes her off. After all, she’s just a silly girl. But then the Huns show up, and Mulan defeats them. Again.

This time, the Emperor commends her, and Shang…does basically nothing. She heads home with military honors, and the Emperor comments to the love interest that hey, she’s pretty special, huh? And then Shang goes after her, and is pleased to find that she’s no longer clad as a man, but now looks appropriately womanly. She is, of course, delighted to see him and, as with all Disney movies, the implication is that they’ll live happily ever after.

So first he leaves her on an isolated, snowy mountain pass that’s recently been overrun with Huns who may or may not be dead. Then when she shows up to warn him that the Huns are coming, he ignores her. After she saves the day yet again, he still has to be told by the Emperor that he might want to consider her as a potential partner. I’m sure that it’s a fantastic match for Shang—after all, she’s already proved that she can pretty much do for herself if need be, plus there has to be some social cachet to marrying the only decorated female war hero in the country, right? It’s less of a fantastic match for Mulan, though, married to someone who doesn’t respect her or trust her judgment.

Mulan is hardly an isolated example, either. A brief rundown:

The very first Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is—like many Disney movies—based on a fairy tale. I’ll recap the fairy tale, for those of you who’ve forgotten. Beautiful child, evil stepmother, hunter unable to kill her, goes to live with the dwarves, poisoned apple, glass coffin. Check, right down the list. Prince shows up and begs to be given the coffin, and the dwaves—somewhat inexplicably—agree. They start to move the coffin, and the movement dislodges the poisoned apple stuck in Snow White’s throat. And yes, she eventually marries the prince.

So, really, it’s not all that different from the Disney version. Beautiful child, evil stepmother, hunter unable to kill her, goes to live with the dwarves. In both versions, her time with the dwarves is spent cooking and cleaning and taking after them. The inevitable poisoned apple comes, as does the glass coffin, and then comes the prince. You’ll note that he’s referred to only as the prince; his name, it seems, is less important than making it quite clear that he is someone of power, someone of wealth. And, of course, he saves her: Disney’s version is quite clear that it’s only the kiss of her true love that can wake her from her tragically beautiful, endless sleep.

What, then, does Snow White teach us (or our impressionable five year olds)? To be fair, it’s a bit more nuanced than some of the other films—though Snow White’s beauty is ultimately her savior, it’s also what sets the Evil Stepmother after her in the first place. Still, we come away with the knowledge that she was so beautiful and pure and womanly that the prince (who is, don’t forget, important and wealthy) fell “in love” with her the moment that he saw her. And, in turn, he’s her “true love”—despite the fact that they’ve not spoken a word to each other. After all, what could be a better marriage than childlike, subservient beauty and wealthy, manly power?

Cinderella was made over a decade later, but it falls into many of the same traps that Snow White does. Cinderella herself is good to a fault, friends with all of the animals and creatures of the forest. Every other (human) female character is evil, though, providing us with plenty of reminders of how good Cinderella is compared to all other women. Through the eventual intervention of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is turned “beautiful”—that is, she’s given a fancy dress, a carriage and all of the trappings, and a curfew. She heads to the ball, where the Prince (again nameless) has been rejecting every woman he meets. He sees Cinderella and is immediately in love with her, chasing her as she runs out of the castle, desperate to leave before curfew comes and she reverts to her normal state. Of course, in the end, it’s discovered that she’s the beautiful woman from the night before, nuptials ensue, and the happy couple ride off as the narrator intones “and they lived happily ever after”.

All well and good, though again, I’m forced to wonder what on earth the Prince and Cinderella could have in common. While I’m sure that it’s a step up for Cinderella, the idea that she “lived happily ever after” seems suspect to me—lived happily ever after doing what? With whom? With the prince, who she’s only known for a few hours when they decide to wed? The movie assumes that we won’t care, that we’ll fall for living happily ever after as surely as Cinderella fell for the promise of a life better than the one that she knew.

Sleeping Beauty takes us to 1959. According to Wikipedia—and this lines up with my recollections of the film—the titular character is on stage as an adult for less than eighteen minutes of the seventy-five minute film. Which, I suppose, is appropriate. After all, the title tells us everything we need to know about her: she’s beautiful. Beauty, nee Aurora, is born, and is immediately betrothed to Prince Phillip, which I’m willing to buy as part of the pseudo-Medieval thing that the movie has going on. Her fairy godmothers queue up to bestow their blessings upon the child, and they cover all the important stuff, making sure that she’ll be pretty and able to sing. Then the evil fairy shows up and casts the curse: death by spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday. Good fairy the third isn’t powerful enough to counter that, so she changes it to eternal sleep by spinning wheel. Then the good fairies take Aurora to live in a cottage in the woods, trying to keep her safe. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, she meets a handsome boy in the woods and falls immediately in love with him. She’s called away before she learns his name, though, and goes home only to find out that she’s a princess, and also cursed, and also engaged to some guy called Phillip.

Apparently unable to hold out the single day it would take for the curse to not happen, the fairies take her back to her parents’ castle, where Maleficent lures her to the spinning wheel. She, inevitably enough, pricks her finger. The kingdom falls asleep just as the fairy godmothers realize that the boy Aurora is in love with is, in fact, Prince Phillip, her betrothed. Happy coincidence! He’s been captured by Maleficent, but aided by the fairies—and the “shield of virtue” and “sword of truth”—he defeats Maleficent, makes out with the sleeping Aurora, and gets his happily ever after.

To summarize: Aurora is a good singer. Also, really, really pretty. All of the adults are idiots, since apparently none of thought to keep an eye on her on her potentially tragic sixteenth birthday. Phillip likes to dance in the woods, and is also truthful and virtuous, except for when he sexually assaults cursed princesses. Most importantly, he will someday be king, and he will have a beautiful wife who can sing. Excellent. I know that’s what I was looking for when I sought out a partner.

The next Disney “Princess” movie jumps forward three decades—suddenly, it’s 1989, and The Little Mermaid is heralding the revival of the animated film. You’d think that maybe, after thirty years, there’d be some passing nod to women who do something other than look pretty and cook and clean and sing, but you’d be mostly wrong. I say mostly because Ariel does not, to my recollection, cook or clean—she just looks pretty and sings.

I’ll be honest that I’m none too fond of the original story (which is a Christian allegory in which the mermaid is desperate to become human that she might gain an immortal soul), but Disney took a bad concept and made it worse. In the movie, sixteen-year-old Ariel longs to become human—partly because she thinks that they’re fascinating and probably less restrictive than her father, but (and this is apparently the more pressing concern) also because she’s fallen in love with a boy.

Don’t be silly—she hasn’t spoken to him or anything like that, but she did save his life when he got washed overboard. She swam him to shore, and then she sang to him until he regained consciousness. Predictably, he has fallen in love with her on the power of her voice alone.

Ariel heads over to the Sea Witch and trades her voice for legs, then heads off to win the boy’s heart. She gets three days. Wacky hijinks, mostly on the part of Sebastian the Crab, ensue. There’s a bit where Ariel almost succeeds in kissing Erik–which, in Disney movies, means that they’re in love–but not quite. Her failure gets her turned into a sea vegetable, or would if her father hadn’t shown up and proved himself to be the worst king in all of existence, dooming his kingdom to be ruled by an evil witch by taking his daughter’s place as a sea vegetable. Ultimately, everyone gangs up to kill the Sea Witch. Because it’s clear that Ariel and Eric’s love is so pure and true, everyone supports it, and Ariel’s father turns her into a human so that she can marry the boy she’s known for three days and never actually spoken to.

I’ve heard The Little Mermaid billed as a trans fairy tale before, and while I certainly see that interpretation, I think that the ultimate message of the movie remains the same: in order to win the person of your dreams and fit in society, in order to be what you want to be, you need to silence yourself. It’s not just her singing voice that she loses, it’s her ability to hold a conversation, or to stand up for herself, or to ask for a glass of water if she’s thirsty. None of those things matter, because the important part is that she be beautiful and willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her fairytale love story.

Next up is Beauty and the Beast, which several people have pointed out to me as a Disney movie that’s not horrible. I can’t do much other than look at these people in bewilderment, though. Sure, we have Belle, who’s smart, bookish, and—by princess standards—fairly normal-looking. She’s brave, too: when her father is captured by the Beast, she goes to find him and tries to break him out. Then she offers herself to the Beast in her father’s place. So far, so good, right?

From here on out, it’s all downhill. First the Beast goes into a rage because she—understandably—doesn’t want to dine with her captor. After his temper tantrum, he declares that if she won’t eat with him, she won’t eat at all. Then he storms off to sulk. She sneaks into the West Wing, which is strictly verboten, and he catches her and has a tantrum so ferocious that she flees the castle, running into the woods. She is, of course, promptly chased by wolves. The Beast comes and fights them off, then they head back to the castle, where Belle tends his wounds and thanks him for saving her life. Eventually, Belle’s kind and gentle nature tames the emotionally abusive, violent monster who’s imprisoned her, and he allows her to go to visit her father. When the townspeople find out that there’s really a beast, they set up a raid, but once he knows that Belle came back to him, the Beast manages to fight his way out. Until he gets stabbed in the back and collapses, that is. No worries, though, because Belle whispers that she loves him, and he’s restored to the beautiful prince that he used to be, and the castle is restored to its former splendor, and there’s a meaningful waltz. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Beauty and the Beast is, I think, a fantastic movie about Stockholm Syndrome. It’s basically telling people that if you’re just nice enough to someone who’s abusing you, eventually they’ll turn into the princes that they really are. Which would be great, if it were true. The National Domestic Violence Hotline receives over 600 phone calls per day, and a quarter of women in the United States will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. We need a movie that tells people that it’s okay to leave if he’s treating you badly, and that there are places to go for help, not that you should just stay and be really nice and hope that he stops.

We’ve just covered the whole Princess franchise. I know, I know–technically, there’s also Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog, and, really, Pocahontas ought to be considered, too. We’re going to cover that in the second part of this post, so please just bear with me. The primary princesses are Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Ariel, and Cinderella, and princess-branded merchandise is always available branded with those five characters. The remaining three are rotated in, but don’t have nearly the popularity that the big five do.

So we’ve talked about why I find the movies, in and of themselves, problematic. But hey, there are a lot of problematic movies out there, and I’m sure that Maura’s seen her fair share of those. What is is about Disney movies, specifically, that I find so offensive?

When I was little, it was made clear to me–as I’m sure it was made clear to many others–that my primary job in life was to grow up and go to college so that I could get a nice, smart boy to marry me. No one ever said that, of course, but it was clear that that’s what people, girls, did, and once they did that, their lives would be good and middle class and easy. I know that it sounds stupid, but part of me is still trying to get over the fact that this is just inherently not true, that even if you win the lottery and marry someone totally awesome, life will still be hard. That you have to work at relationships, and even when you have a great relationship it’s still hard. That even if you’re rich, life is still hard, because life’s not fair, and bad things will happen and you’ll have to deal with it, and sometimes all the money in the world can’t make that better.

I mean, I’m a reasonably intelligent woman. I’m reasonably self confident, capable, and independent. I own my own power tools and I don’t back down from fights; I can grow and can my own food; I’m not afraid of the dark. But I still struggle with the fact that my life, as much as I love it, isn’t easy and probably never will be. That no one’s going to stride out of the metaphorical forest brandishing their sword and somehow make everything awesome and sparkly. It’s not ever advertised that adulthood isn’t really all that, that you might be single for a long time, that you might be married and still be desperately lonely, that you might divorce, that you might be in a non-hetero relationship that the government and your employer won’t recognize, that you’ll base where you live on where you can have health care for your family and where the schools are good, that your job might suck, that even when you try your hardest there are sometimes bills that you just can’t pay, that life isn’t easy.

It’s never mentioned that life doesn’t have to be easy to be good.

The other reason that I’m not comfortable with a lot of these movies is because they’re aimed at kids. And I mean kids, children–not even middle-schoolers, but three, five, eight year olds. Kids who aren’t anywhere near pubescent, kids who, frankly, don’t need to be thinking about finding a partner (or, in Disney parlance, their prince) and living happily ever after. am desperately, desperately uncomfortable with the way that we market romance to small children. When you’re six, you shouldn’t be worried about being pretty so the boy who sits next to you in kindergarten will want to be your boyfriend.

Happily ever after has always suck in my craw, too. Let’s face it–fewer and fewer people get married with each passing year, and the divorce rate is something like fifty percent. The odds that anyone’s going to get married and live happily ever after are incredibly slim, but it’s still held up as the holy grail of life; the one true path to absolute happiness. I don’t think that it’s healthy to be telling small children that what they should be aiming for in life is to get some rich, attractive boy to like them.

Films aimed at kids should be about finding your place with your family, with your friends. I’ve heard people argue that this, somehow, isn’t interesting, but I think that those people are maybe not watching the right movies. The Incredibles was awesome. Spy Kids. Quest for Camelot. Sure, they’re less common than the yay-a-prince films, but they’re better. They’re more interesting, and there’s more to them–they require stronger characters and more of a plot than “we saw each other and fell in true love and lived happily ever after”.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: I don’t want my child watching Disney movies, because I want her to have strong female role models. I don’t want her watching Disney movies, because I want her to see people with full and interesting lives, regardless of if those people are married or not. And, more than anything, I don’t want her watching Disney movies because I want her aspire to be something more than being a beautiful bride; to want more out of her life than just a wedding.


  • Incredibly well done. I’m proud you put it out there. *share!*

  • Oh, this is splendid! And it really explains so much. I feel a bit brainwashed by those movies now…

    Well done! And thank you very much!

  • My uncle’s stepdaughter’s were super excited about my wedding. He told me that all they talk about is their own weddings and what they will be like and he was confused by it. I asked him what kind of movies they were watching at his house. He had a lightbulb moment.

    I think a lot of women also rush into getting married because of those ideals, to be a bride, to be a princess for a day, not thinking that a wedding is just one day of a lifetime commitment. And one just one day, at that. Seriously, anyone can get married (even if it’s not recognised) – not everyone can be happy, learn, run a marathon, get a degree, achieve great things. Why don’t we applaud those things more often?

  • Does Maura ever express a wish to watch girly movies for kids without the creepy Disney messages? Because I have been pleasantly surprised by the Barbie animated movies that Eris was into when she was smaller.

    “The Princess and the Pauper” has love interests for the two leads (both played by “Barbie”), but they’re not typical love interests, and the story has surprising feminist undertones. One of the leads turns down an offer of marriage to follow her career ambitions, the other follows her career ambitions in a way that enables her to propose to the man she wants, instead of the man she’s supposed to marry. Oh, and Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica) voices one of the male leads and sings beautifully, so that’s a bonus.

    In the Barbie Fairytopia movies that I have seen, there’s no love interest at all.

    The animation and script quality are not the best, but Eris wasn’t all that discerning at that age, so Maura might not be either.

    Of course, Maura may not want to watch girly movies, or you may not want her to. But girls often do like the occasional girly movie, and I think the Barbie ones are less harmful than the Disney ones.

  • Hee! Coincidentally, I have a third post lined up (well, partly written) praising the Barbie movies. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how pro-girl they are. Barbie and the Three Musketeers was especially pleasing–Barbie wants to be a musketeer, and she and a few other girls team up and ultimately save the prince…who immediately asks Barbie out. She basically says yeah, not so much, because she has important musketeering to do. I love it.

    We don’t have The Princess and the Pauper yet, but I’ll add that to the list–thanks!

  • I think a lot of women also rush into getting married because of those ideals, to be a bride, to be a princess for a day, not thinking that a wedding is just one day of a lifetime commitment.

    This. This, this this. If I could give this comment a gold star, I totally would. The emphasis isn’t even on having a relationship, it’s just on getting married and being a princess, which I think is a horribly unhealthy thing to promote.

  • Thanks! It’s one of those things that when I looked at it as an adult, I was really sort of horrified by how much I’d internalized the messages, you know?

  • Thanks, lady!

  • My daughter (7 years old) has seen 0 of the 5 big princess movies. She has seen Mulan and Aladdin. One thing you haven’t mentioned that really bothers me about so many Disney movies is the missing parent. All these evil stepmothers and in 4 of those 5 movies the mother has died. And as you mention, in the one with the mother she doesn’t even bother to make sure her daughter is safe on her cursed 16th birthday.

  • I believe it’s the “Happily Ever After” that is the main polluting factor in Disney stuff. Life isn’t happily ever after. It never is. It’s hard. And you have to suck it up and deal with your problems if you want anything, especially relationships to work. I’m not opposed to letting children hold onto their innocence as long as humanly possible though. I don’t think they necessarily have to be exposed to the harsh realities of the world at age 6. I sure don’t want a Disney fairytale to come out where we suddenly find out that the prince and princess are going to get a divorce. Although…since so many children do have to deal with these situations maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe if the prince and princess got married, had kiddos, and got a divorce and still had a healthy relationship with their kids and the fairy tale was focused around the kids and less around finding a relationship that might be a fantastic way to go.

    I really enjoyed The Princess and the Frog. They were such both flawed but lovable characters. And their flaws ended up balancing each others out in the end. And I liked how they didn’t just fall in love at first sight which seems so very unlikely. Lust at first sight sure! But love? Come on!

    All this being said, I’m a HUGE Disney fan. I even have a Disney credit card for heaven’s sake. LOL

    I don’t know how much you know about Southern culture, but down here our Mama’s start talking about our weddings when we’re literally little girls. It’s the assumption that some day we’ll grow up and get married and have babies. I remember having these conversations as a little girl. I always assumed I’d work though. That I’d have a life outside the home. I remember being a teenager and another girl saying that she wanted to get married and stay home with her kids when she got out of high school. I was aghast! I do now understand it a little more though. I wouldn’t mind not having to work at all while my babies were little, though I can’t at ALL complain about the work situation I have. I am wonderfully gifted with the opportunity to work part time and from home so it’s just splendid. Gets me away from them for a little while but I don’t have to put them in daycare. (though some days I feel like that’d be a heck of a lot easier!)

    And since you mentioned same sex partnerships. Gosh darn it why can’t we have some fairy tales where two princesses or princes fall in love and get married?! I guess that wouldn’t sell very well to the majority of the Disney consumers. But who knows the world is a-changing. Maybe in a decade or so they’ll be ready for it!

    I feel like I’ve been really stream of consciousness here… To sum it up, I know that Disney movies are flawed but I still love them. Beauty and the Beast was my favorite until The Princess and the Frog came out and The Little Mermaid. I think their flaws can be found in a lot of other places as well. Romance novels often present a happily ever after ending. That’s why I like series where you see the previous heroes and heroines majorly po’d at each other, but still managing to somehow work it all out. That’s life. It’s hard, but if you really love someone most of the time you can work it out. At least if you’re ridiculously stubborn like me… LOL

  • While I do get where you are coming from, I will have to say this. Disney gets blamed for the problems of all of these stories, but no one talks about the fact that most of the princess movies come from stories that are ages old. They weren’t made by Disney originally, just interpreted. Also most of these stories are coming from ages that are not friendly to anything but the heterosexual, man’s the boss and women and children just need to be quiet and follow them eras. There is also the fact that anytime Disney changes a little piece of the story they get skewered because of it.

    I did grow up with the Disney Princesses (but really more of the animal movies as I have liked animals better as long as I can remember), but never felt pressured to the “fairytale ending”. In fact I never thought of getting married until I met my husband. I will also say this, I am not sure I grew up in the typical family for the area that I grew up in.

    I do have a problem with how early we are sexualizing our children. (Some of the clothes I have seen for little girls are outrageous and I have also seen baby onesies with references to women’s chests and worse) I would also love to see movies with stronger female characters and characters who work to improve their lives, families, and communities. Even though I do not have a daughter, I also want my son to be influenced by strong women. I want him to find someone who is not afraid to speak their mind and who makes him happy (regardless of who they are). I want him to know he should treat all people with respect and generosity.

    As for Disney movies my favorite is Lilo and Stitch. I also love Anastasia and Quest for Camelot (but neither is Disney).

  • Awesome. As usual. Coherent, logical, but more important, I like the life lesson for everyone, that life doesn’t have to be easy to be good, and finding a place in a bigger community of family and friends is more important than finding The One. Can’t wait for Parts 2 and 3!

  • Your posting above is eloquent. I do not let me 5 and 8 year old daughters watch Disney programming either (Hannah Montana, princess, etc.) for the same reasons. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post. Looking forward to coming back here for more great insight!

  • I wouldnt let my daughter watch Hannah Montana either. Those disney shows suck these days. Not only is Miley a bad role model for little girls. Her movies is lame and there is rudeness on her show. There is rudeness and disrespect on these other disney show like Zack And Cody. Disney was good 15 years ago. Now the only good disney movies I can think of is Up and Cadet Kelly. I personally think the Princess And The Frog is a chessy movie. What wrong with nickelodeon? The show on there is 100 times superior then the disney shows. I dont know who makes some of these other awful movies such as Knock-Up, Bring It on First Flight To The Finish 2009 (rather watch Degrassi in college), and Camp Rock I rather watch Zack And Cody all day rather then that crap.

  • so you dont know to much about kid and how they learn and grow. if you would read this to a five year old. she flat out wouldnt understand… FOR A LONG TIME! your kid is five and doesnt need to think that way cause that wouldnt be normal. imagination and dreams are a way they learn.

  • [...] Why My Daughter Doesn’t Watch Disney Movies posted at domestic dilettante, humorless feminist shrew. [...]

  • I found this post because I was trying to figure out my own opinion on this issue, especially since I just found out I’m having a girl. I linked to your post on my own blog as I tried to grapple with it, and I’ve decided I agree with you, especially the in-depth analysis of each major plot line. I know that I won’t be able to watch my daughter watch these movies without thinking about the messages they’re sending. My hope is that there are enough movies with positive messages to keep her occupied and not feel like she’s missing out on experiences her peers are having. I look forward to your follow-up posts on this topic.

  • I always said The Little Mermaid could be summed up with Ursula’s song: You’ll have your looks, your pretty face…It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man. Probably the most honest villain song.

    I can’t remember where I read this, and I haven’t seen the movie since to see how much I agree with it, but they talked about the fact Sleeping Beauty has probably the most female agency, when you consider the three good fairies (who have to save the Prince).

  • Dang, I couldn’t find the second Disney post. Too bad, cause I figured you’d cover the racial aspects of the “Other” princesses.

    And Disney outside of the princess subgenre, like Pixar movies, are not necessarily much better about providing a female role model. Though those don’t tend to have the HEA issue.

  • (In reply to your final paragraph)
    My mother read a book where the author wrote nearly the same thing and both of us agreed with the author (sorry I do not remember who the author was or what the book was called). Both my mother and I watched Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which is a movie I guarantee you will find suits your liking. While watching this movie, the two of us were relieved to find that the main character, Tiana, worked for a living and worked hard. To make things better, Tiana ended up coming to the rescue of the “man” in the story, versus the man always having to save the woman, assuming that women cannot save themselves and rely on men to do nearly everything besides cleaning and cooking (which is another point the author in the book I mentioned earlier talked about). Judging by your comment, I assume you would find The Princess and the Frog appropriate, so if you have not already, I suggest renting the movie. And if you would like me to find the title and author of that book I would be happy to!

  • I’m going to step forward and say thank-you, and also, I’m the other mom out there who won’t let her daughter watch Disney princess movies. I have exactly the same problems with them as you do, and agree that it’s limiting to girls that no matter how adventurous and positive the heroine is, she ends up as a meek wife to the love interest. Let’s hear it for Moms who are trying to make a difference in their daughters’ lives!

    My one exception, because my daughter is so obsessed with mermaids, is Ariel’s Beginning. As far as I know, this is the only Disney princess movie with no love interest in the plot. Sadly, all Ariel still isn’t allowed any female companionship, so I think the movie still supports the stereotype that special beautiful girls can’t have female friendship, only male attention. Still, it’s far better than the other Disney princess movies that I have seen…

  • This is pretty slow in coming, and I’m sorry–I wanted to let you know, though, that the second part of the Disney post is up here. I’ve had a bad couple of months and it’s taken me a long time to get around to it. Thanks for your interest!

  • I AGREE!! disney movies are SEXIST,UNFEMINIST…ECT ECT ECT!! and they ALL have happy endings.. kids(like me im 12) need to learn that not evry thing always turns out happy….ya no,cuz theres drunks,suicids,suicidals,rapists,abusers,and more and DISEY is saying that “the world is a safe place…its all gonna be ok!”well thats not true. cuz like i said there are rapists and abusers and suicids and ect! and the wrlds NOT SAFE! ALSOOO…ALMOST ALL the disney movies are about girls and there “beauty”….i say they are UGLY! TRUE BEAUTY IS THE THING!!TRUE FEMINIST!and NO disney “princess” has that! they are all SEXIST films! they all might have RAPES, they all almost have ABUSES,they almost all have SUICIDES, and they almost all have suicidal tenchenson!!BAD IINFLUECES BAD IMEGES! THEY MAKE KIDS INTO SLUTS I SAY!

  • I grew up on the Disney princess movies. One of my favorites was The Little Mermaid, but I loved them all. I never had any false ideals about life because of these movies. If you think that your child will see all the “bad” things that you see, you’re underestimating your child. True I wanted to be Ariel, but it had nothing to do with the happily ever after or the prince. I wanted to be Ariel because she lived in the ocean and I loved the water. They’re called fantasy because we know they’re not real and don’t show realistic images. I never felt that my “role” in life was to marry a prince. I knew from a early age that I wanted to get married, but it had nothing to do with these movies. I wanted their clothes, but I never wanted to be them. I never thought that I had to be pretty and sing well in order for someone to like me. Chances are you didn’t look at these movies they way you do until you were an adult. Children look at these movies differently than adults.

  • The people who are saying, “These movies aren’t harmful to kids because you didn’t look at them this way till you were an adult,” are really missing the point. Kids aren’t stupid. These messages are subliminal and become part of their unconscious understanding of the world. They not only reinforce but glamorize and romanticize the sexist gender norms that they’re taught in their everyday lives. We can easily point out the sexist underpinnings of Disney movies as educated adults because we’ve been taught the skills sets necessary to see the problems and pull them apart. That doesn’t mean that everyone who can’t, kids included, miss the signals. They see them, they just can’t analyze them or identify them as problematic. And that’s dangerous.

    I don’t have kids, but hope to some day, and I’ve really gotten a headache over thinking about how to help my kids navigate the world. So many bad messages, and it’s so far from obvious about how to give them the tools to navigate through these bad messages and come out empowered.

  • I loved reading your article! I’m writing a paper for college english about how Disney movies show hyper-masculinity and all of your informaiton fits perfectly with my paper. I even quoted you in my paper(I hope that’s alright) when you’re tlaking about Beauty and the Beast and about abuse. It was the perfect quote for my paragraph! I can’t wait to read your part 2!

  • I wanted to say that I think your view is interesting even if I dont completely agree with all of it but im also a just teenager so you may say I just don’t understand. But i will say that I grew up watching some of the Disney cartoons and movies (not pirates of the carribean or any of the movies that are a little more mature,…i watched those just a few years ago actually) and I never thought half of the things that were mentioned above to be honest. As a kid I never thought these stories were bad or anything like that. If anything, they inspired me to be different like Belle or to be strong like the Lion King or Mulan. It sounds silly but growing up where evrything around me is sex, drinking and drugs, I still look to silly things like Disney to encourage me or just to relax me and give me laugh. I also do lots with music and I absolutly love singing or playing Disney music because its not filled with dirty stuff. Its just fun little tunes to me.
    My parents were always very cautious on what I did watch. I wasnt allowed to watch all the shows on Disney channel and I remember being so embarrased when I had to leave the room when they wanted to watch them, haha. I used to get mad at my parents and want to rebel and watch them anyways (though I didn’t). But as time went on I turned my life around a little and started being different from the “crowd”. (kinda like mulan, haha, she always inspired me to stand up for what I believe in even if others make fun of me or try to knock me down.) Ive grown up and have surrounded myself with good friends, and adult leaders. I have become active in church and service and in many other things. My parents don’t worry about what I watch anymore because I choose what I see, hear or do very strictly. But I still have tons of appropiate fun. :) I have always always always loved Disney and it has taught me to dream big, and even if I fall I know that at least I still persevered. I know life isnt a fairytale. I have gone through lots in my life and so have my friends. And I know that so many adults will say your just a kid what would you know about life but sometimes you may be surprised. Growing up with both parents having cancer and friends trying to kill themselves and being offered drugs or sex etc, you start to realize that life is no fairytale. I may not have a job or have to raise a family etc. but I definately know that life is no where near a some perfect Disney film. But I personally believe that we need some dreams in our life. In less then 2 years, I go to college and then im in the real world. I want to go into telecomunications. And I want to be a missionary also. I know those jobs arent exactly great for getting money and living the glamorous life, but I love doing stuff like that and im learning that with a lot of hard work I can do whatever I put my mind to. I dont know if i’ll succeed but I know that everybody in history who has done something great has started from where I am, or like a Disney characters. :) I dont think Walt Disney wnated to corrupt childrens minds by his cartoons. He was just a guy who loved what he did. he loved drawing cartoons and making stories. And besides, theres not much else for kids to watch that is appropriate in my opinion. Overall I love Disney and I dont think I turnes out bad because of it. Thank you very much for giving your opinion and also thank for listening to mine. :) Have a blessed day. -1 John 4:9-10-

  • WOW you guys are stupid think that Disney movies are sexiest. wow that all i can say. i guess u guys don’t have anything else to do. First of all i grew up with little mermaid and beauty and the beast and i don’t bleave in rushing in to get married and i think instead of blame TV for you children doing bad you should look at yourself first.

  • I lol’d when I read the above comment. Honestly, Kristen, you really expect people to think you’re intelligent when you use that kind of grammar?

    Just because YOU didn’t get influenced doesn’t mean that OTHERS don’t get influenced. Jesus Christ, even if women DON’T get influenced at all, it doesn’t erase the fact that these movies are completely sexist.

  • I’m 16 years old, so I grew up with most of the movies you listed there. I didn’t became brainwashed into thinking: “Be pretty and kind and good, and maybe someone who is wealthy and powerful will want you for his bride.” As a child, I never thought about those things. I just watched the movie because it was entertaining and fun. Disney movies were a good part of my childhood and I’m glad I grew up watching them!

  • You know you can’t shield your daughter from everything all the time. When she gets older and has friends who watch disney movies what will you do then? Not let her have friends? There are far worse things in life you should protect her from instead of cartoons. At least 95% of kids in American grow up watching Disney movies and guess what, a majority of us did not grow up messed up only thinking of being pretty and getting married (and those who did, well, it wasn’t from Disney..probably from bad parenting). Instead of worrying what cartoons will be your kids role model, maybe you should be the role model. I bet your daughter will rebel when she’s in high school and will probably get married when she’s 18. That’s what happens when your too overprotective, they rebel and you get the exact opposite of what you wanted. Not that this post will change your mind or anything.

  • I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!! I`m going to be a new mom (Due In August) & trust me, those movies have hidden subliminal messages in them (Sex,sex,sex) ! Alot of movies due now a days, espeically kids movies! Everyone should google the hidden messages Disney potrays !!! I agree with you 100%..Im just wondering how Im going to handle the critizm Im going to get from society ..Hm

  • I’m 17 years old, so I’ve basically seen every Disney movie there is. I didn’t notice the so called hidden messages until I was told or when I really looked for them, my main priority when watching any of the Disney movies was for entertainment and that’s it. I love Beauty and the Beast, but that doesn’t mean I think I should act in a certain way and expect anything from it. I believe that when you’re a little girl watching the movie you just love the story behind it, not the technicalities behind it, just the love story and the moral of being kind to others and not selfish and self-centered. When you analysis the movies when your older sure you notice things and you understand that the events in the movies don’t happen in real life, but when your little full of dreams and wishes you love to be able to escape into the world Disney has created. Granted I know now that there are things that are in the movies that I don’t agree with…like the Jim Crow in Dumbo, but as you get older you learn more and understand more, but I not going to tell someone not to watch it because in the end its their choice. Just like in the end I can say whatever I want, but to be honest no one has to care and I can’t make anyone do anything. I only hope that you know once your child grows up he or she will watch a Disney movie, maybe at school or at a friend’s house, you can’t really stop it. Like I said, I can’t make anyone (even if you take the time to read this long message) change their mind into allowing their children to watch Disney movies

  • In response to Becca Eff’s comment,

    Do you seriously think your kid is going to notice the hidden messages in the movies? When I was little I didn’t notice a single one of them and I watched a lot of Disney movies when I was younger. Come on, it’s kid. Stop worrying so much.

  • While I understand what you are trying to get across, i think it’s a little extreme to ban these movies completely. My 7 year old daughter has seen all of these movies, and all of the Barbie movies. I have to say, the Barbie movies are really not much better. They use the same base stories in a different manner, but in the end, many of them turn to the “marry prince charming” ideal. You seem to be especially disappointed in the likes of The Little Mermaid. Would you have preferred Disney tell the story as it was written? Remember, she didn’t trade her tail for legs. Her tail split in two, and she nearly bled to death dancing for the princes amusement. When the prince decided to marry another women she was offered the chance to murder him in order to live. As if that weren’t enough, she eventually sank to the bottom of the sea and became seafoam. I guess if you’re not looking for a happy ending, you can relate that story to your children. Each princess was also their own individual. This is the premise behind Disney’s marketing of the Princess brand. So life isn’t a “happily ever after” situation. How does censoring a child help that situation? I choose not to censor my children, and yet my children have a firm grasp on how life really works. Of course, maybe we need to label every movie as being “for entertainment purposes only”.

  • Always A Princess
    October 5th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Okay. First, I grew up in a horribly and painfully abusive household where my mother was a nagging, emotionless, un-nurturing shrew who hated Cinderella and Ariel. I saw how other little girls got to play outside, and got decent medical care, and didn’t get hit or screamed at or had to live in a hoarded and filthy home–because FEMINISTS DON’T CLEAN!!! Oh no!
    I am 26 now. I was lucky–I got out alive. Unlike you women, I found a happily ever after. Don’t knock true love unless it happens to you.
    These movies helped me SURVIVE. “Cinderella” and “Tangled” make me cry like a baby because I see so much of my “mother” in it. And “The Little Mermaid” probably had a big influence on me becoming Dianic Pagan (although the Disney version, despite being favorite DP film is least favourite Mermaid film). I might also add that most people my own age I’ve known who like the genre are *oh my Goddess!* GAY MEN. Haven’t met a single one who didn’t love Ariel or Cinderella. You chicks totally need to chill. I can understand the motivation but women are superior because we’re warm and gentle and compassionate–not typical traits of men. If you cave and act/think/talk/dress like a MAN you’re defeating the purpose.

  • Okay just going to point out that Quest For Camelot is even more sexist than both Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. And Beauty and The Beast should at least get brownie points for Belle actually developing love over time for Beast, rather than just having it. And also should be noted that he held her captive for not normal reasons, and it can be said that they were just actually giving us depth to our villains in it.
    But I really appreciate how you raise your child. The only reason I wouldn’t do similar is because I speak in pop culture references and talk about tropes constnatly, so my kids will need to understand all that, but I’ll also most likely do what my mom did and let my children watch horror films. I’ll most likely be criticizing the films while watching them, though.

  • Oh, and I forgot to add, saying Beauty and The Beast is bad because Beast becomes beautiful is like saying The Man Without a Face is bad because at the end you don’t see the guy’s face, or like having an unexpected happy ending is bad. Okay, deus-ex-machinas are typically not a good thing, but come on.

  • I think you’re cruel.

  • You are the most miserable parent I have ever seen… You are a paranoid who wants to control their daughter’s life in every little way. I cannot fathom how depressing and ignorant you must be to find these harmless Disney movies stupid. They teach kids life lessons and allows them to have more imagination which is important for kids who are growing up. I understand if you don’t like these movies… but to ban your daughter from watching them JUST because you hate them is just plain childish and selfish. I feel sorry for your kid and I’m eternally grateful that I didn’t end up with a paranoid control freak parent like you…

  • Do you mind if I quote your writing on my Wiki Site? I think your writing would suit my readers perfectly. Well ya, thanks for posting this article.

  • While everyone is welcomed to their opinions you seem to be one of those people who over thinks everything. Is it so wrong to just live life and enjoy the little moments with your child in today’s economy??? My niece loves Disney movies, one and all. She’s two and denying her the right to watch a movie that goes over her head is just silly. Yes, life is not all sunshine and roses. Prince charming may barely make enough and life may be tough for some. But keep in mind these movies are fictional bits of fantasy loosely based off (at times) of fairy tapes that were rather grim and ballets. Disney would get more crap if they had a politically correct movie because someone will always find something wrong with the film. Sadly on another note you kind of need to loosen the leash you have because children will do and see what they are told not to. Don’t think they won’t.

  • Hello! I’m living proof of growing up Disney-free. My mother wouldn’t let me watch Disney movies because of the same reason you stated–they are unreasonable. I grew up watching anything that Jim Henson put together and was read to rather than parked in front of a TV. I can safely say that I turned out normal (and with a great sense of humor, thanks to Mr. Henson) and I do not consider my mother to be crazy or to have gone overboard with my upbringing. I grew up with a best friend who was a diehard Disney fan. I dont know if this is a normal occurrence or not, but I think the ideals of Disney movies may have swayed her opinion on marriage and being independent. She is constantly searching for a boyfriend and always talks about marriage, while I am focusing hard on getting my BS in biochemistry and not focusing on making a family at ALL. I think you’re making a fantastic choice. I came out to be normal, don’t listen to what these people say about you. you made a good choice! Plus Disney movies are tacky.

  • im 18 years old and grew up watching all these movies. Most people who i know have not been negatively impacted by disney movies. Adults want to overanalyze everthing children watch, although i do agree that most shows on the disney channel are not exactly the best for kids. I watch disney movies with my younger sister all the time, never have i felt influenced by them. I have always watched them because they were fun to watch and for most kids are an escape from reality. These movies don’t infuence the decisions children make it’s what they are taught from their parents. Im not saying that you should change your decision on what you do with your children but just realize that these movies arent as bad as people make them out to be. They are JUST movies and should be taken for what it is, a children’s movie.

  • adding to what i said before, these movies should not be used in place of raising your child. These movies are made to make people feel good and are for entertainment purposes only! Anyone who thinks that children are going to look this far into a movies is completely insane and should seek help if they think these movies are going to harm their children in any way!!

  • I honestly think if you take Disney movies to heart and get influenced by them, there’s something wrong with you. Just saying. lol. They’re DISNEY movies. Geez.

  • Like Jessica said, if your gonna look far into Disney movies, you might as well cut out the t.v and computer.

  • I’ll just say my point of view from a kid whose mother acted in a way similar to Meghan. She didn’t like the messages she saw pop up repeatedly in the Disney “princess” movies, and while not banning me from them, didn’t actively make them part of my childhood.

    The reoccurring themes that disturbed my mother most were the role of mothers, and the role of marriage. All but, what, one? had a living or recognized mother, and if they had a stepmom she was an evil despicable human being. My Mother raised my Father’s children from his previous marriage and loved them unconditionally and was very bothered by the evil stepmother role being reinforced to children, especially when we live in a society with such a high divorce rate.

    Next, she was upset by the fact that none of these girls took more than a few days (if any time at all)to get to know the men they married. While yes, my parents are part of a religion that GREATLY values the importance of marriage in a young persons life, and my childhood wasn’t exactly devoid of being pointed in the direction of finding the right husband, My mother wanted me to value my own individuality, and value my own intelligence, and then value the companionship of someone who would take the time to get to know me and love me for who I am, NOT someone who relied solely on what I looked like and how charming/domestic/whatever else I was to gauge my value.

    I will say it kind of creates a bit of a social gap between myself and my piers who reminisce and will often have movie nights watching favorite Disney movies of which I have no significant memory (or real desire to watch at 20), and seeing as my mom got me into reading instead of watching movies (I get it, when your kid is 2-5 (or any age really) its hard to get them to want to do anything other than watch the stupid T.v.) when I think of stories I liked when I was little, they really have nothing to do with what most people my age would have read. It does however make for a bit more creative effort in finding out what you really have in common with other people. And hey, I read. WAY more than most people my age have, in addition to an active social life.

    I think moms who are willing to step outside the norm, in a well thought out, constructive way, to provide what they feel is right, are awesome.

  • To be honest, I could not finish this article. I grew up with Disney movies my entire childhood and, while I do daydream of my “prince charming” now and then, I know that these movies can be unrealistic and that that is not entirley reality. However, Disney gives you happy stories that expand the imagination and are happy and fun to watch. As a child, you do not analyze the movie bit by bit like adults do and find content that is unrealistic or degrading. Children just watch it for pure enjoyment. Now, as an adult watching these films, I am able to pick up the little comments or actions that, in today’s society, can be viewed as a form of discrimination. But, for kids, they are fun, happy movies that no child, I believe, should go without.

  • Okay, first off, I have to disagree with you. If you really look at little girls in general, most of the time they talk about wanting to be the Princess, they don’t really care about being with the Prince and such. Young girls are more into the “prettiness” of the Princess, their dresses, etc. Also, as some have said, children mainly watch them for enjoyment and the fantasy, NOT for seeing it as adults do. I used to love the Little Mermaid so much I had the entire movie memorized word for word. However, it was never about the Prince or finding love, it was about being Ariel and being a princess.

    Second, as far as Beauty and the Beast goes, the Beast was rageful and sometimes vicious BECAUSE he was a Beast. He was never like this back when he was human and it was part of the curse the witch placed on him, which he since lost when the curse was broken and he regained human form. ALso, Belle did not suffer from Stockholm Syndrome:

    1~ She was not held prisoner by the Beast long enough for it to even develop.

    2~ He did NOT cut her entirely off from the world outside and nor did he keep her completely locked up. Stockholm Syndrome only really develops when said prisoner is completely and entirely cut off and locked away for only the captor to know.

    3~ When he roared at Belle to get out of his tower after she broke his rule, she RAN from him. Those who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome will not run, they would try to make amends.

    Lastly, there are several reasons Shang was angry and left Mulan after she was revealed to be a woman. First of all, it’s part of their culture. Second, it was moreso the fact that her “Ping” identity was a LIE. Shang came to view “Ping” as a good friend and even a real comrade, but finding out “Ping” was really a woman, is what hurt and angered him. Also, he didn’t leave her to die, if you remember afterwards, she rode the horse back into town, which she could’ve done at any time, because Shang opted not to kill her (in return for saving him during the attack from the Huns). Also, Shang didn’t listen to her about the Huns because he was still CLEARLY hurt and upset about her lie of being a man. You really can’t expect someone to get over being lied to just like that, you know. As well, when he did come to accept her as a partner, I’m pretty sure he does respect her now, after what she did for China. Just because he was hurt got mad one time does not mean he hated her >_>.

    Also, as I said before, most little girls (and boys) don’t really care about the whole love factor or the deeper issues in the movies. They just like the fantasy of it all.

    Lastly, what’s so wrong with kids actually wanting to find love? It’s not a bad thing for them do to do, I mean, wanting and finding love is literally part of humanity as a whole. Maybe not 3 yr olds, but 5 yr olds and older might begin to think about it. Just because they’re prepubescent does not mean they have to be shielded from that. Everything comes in stride and as they get older, so does their understanding of everything around them. It’s just how it is.

    ~ Raz

  • You all seem kind of jaded to me. I would never tell my our year old granddaughter Happy Endings don’t exist. Yes, life is hard. Yes, life isn’t fair; but, it is life. Honestly, you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder. Let me tell you, I married my childhood sweetheart 35 years ago and it was love at first sight.Those storied do exist and I am sorry if life has not been kind, but I suggest not being so bitter and ruining it for the rest of us.
    My children, and I have 4 girls, 1 boy, grew up watching Disney movies. Not a single one of them thought the way you all are. That is your thinking, not your children. All you are doing is stealing hope and belief that there is good in the world. You are no better than the parents who tell their children to “grow up,” when they are just kids.
    Your synopsis of Mulan was what got me the most. It was very ignorant. You did not count the culture at the time, or the stands that feminism had in China during that period of time. You did not consider that in that time period, he DID do a major favor and that her accomplishment was HUGE.
    Yes, love at first sight is rare and foolish, but these children aren’t watching these movies and thinking anything near what you all are thinking. Let your children be children.
    And, The Incredibles and Spy Kids are Disney movies. The comment about Nickelodean was very interesting as well as I am a clinical psychologist. Studies have proven that children who watch this tv network are 72% more likely to have a lower intelligence and reasoning level. Studies have also shown that, with very few exceptions, that their shows are non developmental friendly to children. Do your research!

  • If you have ever read “The King’s Damsel” in which Quest for Camelot is based, you will not have the same opinion about the movie, as well.

  • I am a 21 years old. I have watched almost every single Disney movie put out there. They are my childhood. My parents were rather strict with what I could and could not watch. I wasn’t allowed to watch Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, or most saturday morning cartoons. I was only allowed to watch PBS and Disney. The Disney princess movies are some of my favorite movies of all time. Beauty and the Beast in particular is a movie that I have always identified with. I loved Belle because she was so confident in herself and loved books. She didn’t care about what the villagers thought of her. She stood up to those that were mean to her and showed that she wasn’t affected by what they said to her. She was not dreaming about having a boyfriend or husband before she met the beast. She was worried about helping her father. I also loved Pocahontas and Mulan. In both of those movies the women were strong characters who did not follow what was expected of them. Pocahontas did what she thought was right even though her father disapproved. Mulan went and fought in a war because she did not want her father to die. I was teased a lot when I was younger. I was actually called Mulan at one point and I took it as a compliment because I was given the name of a woman who could kick the butt of any man who challenged her.

    Also my mother always told me to not worry about getting married and to live life before getting married. She was divorced before she met my father and so she always encouraged me to think long and hard before marrying anyone. My mother was a huge tomboy and always encouraged me to do not only the girly things of dressing up but also climbing trees and playing with my toy gun. I am still proud of my less than girly tendencies.

    I think that you can let your daughter safely watch the disney movies as long as you remind her that it is fiction and that there are so many other options out there.

  • This post concerns me. In today’s society, is this really what y’all are focusing on? I was raised on these movies. My family would have movie nights consisting of nothing but Disney movies. I was even allowed to watch the “horrible and frightening NICKELODEON!!” Big deal. I am now 20 years old, a junior in college, majoring in Psychology and I’ll be diagnosing you whack jobs in the future. Watching these movies never skewed my perception of the world or how things worked. If anything, they helped me. I actually had this thing called an “imagination”. And in today’s world, children need an imagination. They don’t need to understand everything that’s going on out there at their age. It’s too scary and confusing for them. Let them focus on their imaginations and being princesses and dressing up like queens. That’s what they’re supposed to do at their age. If they grow up to be needy and crazy and believing in all this crap you moms are throwing out there, it isn’t the movies fault. Re-evaluate the parenting.

  • I think you are a complete nutjob! Sheltering your child from completely innocent movies isn’t going to help her at all when she has to face the real world, and as bad as you would like her to not see bad things, it’s going to happen so she should be able to enjoy her childhood like anyone else. She will just end up completely clueless as to what to do when she becomes an adult,and anyways these are just made up stories right? So she can watch them as long as she knows they are just FAIRY TALES. You don’t have to freak out like Disney is trying to brainwash children!

  • I agree with you Kristen, I too grew up with Disney movies and there is nothing wrong with me. I have never seen any child so called brainwashed from a harmless disney movie. All kids need to have imagination,as it is a process of learning and Disney just gives hem ideas of games to play, like of they wanted to play Ariel or Cinderella. If you teach them right, they will know that these characters aren’t real, and they are only made up.

  • Baillie Nickel nailed it.

    You people are nucking futs. I watched every single one of these films as a kid and I’m appalled that you seriously look this deeply into cartoons. The idea of creating a completely disarmed, harmless, impossible-to-detract-negatively-from fairy tale is ludicrous.

    Sure, children are impressionable, but they learn from HUMAN behavior, not cartoons. If your daughter, or any child for that matter, seriously thinks that she has to make herself pretty so a rich, handsome boy will marry her, I’d call that delusions of grandeur if not borderline retarded behavior. More likely, she will end up like her mother, hopelessly obsessed with picking apart DISNEY movies for every negative influence one could possibly pick out.

    I’m not surprised that you never find other parents that aggressively shield their children from disney movies…do you know even one person that can realistically stand listening to your drivel about how disney movies are these terrible, dangerous films that teach our children horrible life practices.

    Playing by your rules, children must also not be allowed to watch The Incredibles because it teaches them that torture is okay, abduction is fine, the male role in a relationship is to keep the female happy, and your boss is always an asshole. I’m sure you never made any of those imaginative leaps, and for good reason: THEY’RE RIDICULOUS. Your child (like all other children) doesn’t have the life experiences or the knowledge to cross these chasm-esque gaps in reasoning because they’re too YOUNG. Example: Kids believe in santa, but don’t even WONDER how he gets his fat ass down your chimney, not to mention every other kid in the entire world’s chimney in a single night. They don’t wonder these things because they’re not smart enough to, and since they don’t make these extrapolations on people they think really exist, why would they for some clamshell bikini-clad mermaid?

    Furthermore, you’re obviously scarred from your less-than-stellar life experiences, as indicated by your aggressively-worded hate rants towards the prince charmings of the films in question. Why are they “marrying” the women? You’re wording it as if it’s something the man DOES to the woman, as if the man is always the person performing the actions and the helpless, defenseless woman is always the submissive housewife being forced into these unions. Why can’t the man and woman “get married” (or insert whatever neutral-toned phrasing you prefer). You’re probably the woman that refuses to go through doors a man opens for you, because it’s sexist and you can “do just fine by yourself, thank you very much”, or responds to a “hey guys and gals!” with an indignant “I’m a woman actually, thanks.”

    But I digress…after all, what would the world be without overprotective mothers. You probably signed the petition to ban Harry Potter books because they promote witchcraft.

    Seriously. Get help. Maura will thank you one day.

  • So what should Disney movies consist of?

    -Homely or downright ugly protagonists, because not everyone is beautiful, and your children certainly shouldn’t think they are, because lets face it, sometimes people are hideous to look at.

    -Absolutely NO GIRLS SINGING SONGS WHATSOEVER. We wouldn’t want our children to think that all girls should have beautiful voices, because most people can’t sing for shit.

    -Female protagonists that are ALWAYS just as strong if not stronger than every other character on screen. We can’t let those stupid boys think that they’re physically or mentally superior. Male voice actors should be forced to whisper their lines while the female voice actor yells throughout the movie. After all, if you make a character that is unable to talk, our dumb kids might think that they’re not allowed to talk.

    -IMPORTANT ONE: a male character can never save a female character, lest our impressionable children take a 90-minute film as gospel and suddenly begin asking their male classmates to save them from trivial things such as an endless sleep or wolves. Or, for that matter, overprotective parents…

    You’re insane.

  • So the single mom hates prince charming stories?


    In history, mermaids were always unable to speak outside of water, much like the fish in Nemo were unable to speak when pulled from the ocean.

    But of course you take this nod to historical fiction and turn it into a women’s rights movement. You should be ashamed.

  • So all copies of Mulan should be burned because they, what, depict what Asian culture was really like in feudal times? God forbid we teach our kids some foreign history.

    Should they also round out the eyes for a re-release because its racist to create all asians in a movie with slanted eyes?

    Quote: I think that we’re meant to feel that he’s saved her life, but realistically, he’s just condemned her to a slow, painful death.

    Because our 3-to-8-year-olds know how exposure and hypothermia work, right?

    Quote: I’m sure that it’s a fantastic match for Shang—after all, she’s already proved that she can pretty much do for herself if need be, plus there has to be some social cachet to marrying the only decorated female war hero in the country, right?

    Again, the idea that ANY child would make this imaginative leap about Shang marrying a “decorated female war hero” is ridiculous. Show me an eight year old who knows what a decorated war hero is, and what the implications would be for a General marrying one would be, and I’ll buy that kid the internet.

  • From what I’ve read of your article you seem to be a feminist. Its nice to have the idea that men are equal to women but the truth is the dates that these Disney movies take place in is back in the day where men were superior to women. Mulan took a huge risk because not only were women to be seen not heard but there was a favor of men over women. In reality Shang would have killed her weather or notshe saved his life.
    I’m only 20 years old and I’ve grown up with Disney movies. Although I have to admit I haven’t seen princess and the frog yet.
    The Disney princesses have a variety of cultural princess (although correct me if I’m wrong I haven’t seen a Mexican princess yet) and the moviesare romance cartoons portrayed in their culture back before they had women’s rights and all that. I mean cmon in the cartoons they ride in. Carriages and on horses. The automobile wasn’t invented yet. Of course here was no women’s rights or women power yet. The cartoons show that even though they had no real rights they still overcame their obstacles. Sleeping Beauty I never really cared for. But the little mermaid she morely became human for freedom prince Eric was basically a bonus. And in the cartoon while aerial has her school girl crush going on her dad comes in and destroys everything. Ursula using her eels to be her eyes only sees that she was upset her dad destroyed Eric’s statue. She was upset he destroyed everything but just more so the statue. So Ursula lures her. Eric fell in love with Ariel because mythologically wise Ariel is a siren. Men who went to seas fell in love with sirens voice weather they are beautiful or ugly. Eric wanting to marry Ariel is saying he wants to spend the rest of his life knowing her. Beauty and the beast belles name actually means beauty so that’s where the partial title comes from. The beast had a temper and was a spoiled brat wbu he was never abusive to her. Yes he yelled at her because he was scolding her but its not like he was emotionally abusive calling her names or anything. Belle basically was he nurturing bookworm with spunk. She wasn’t going to change for him or give in to his demands and he fell in love with her because she was the only one who would stand her ground. She melted his cold heart. Basically the nurturing loving non judgmental are found beautiful inside and out and they stood up for what they believed in. In the end they got their prince and got their happy ending. There is no wrong in saying if you stand up for what you believe in have a good heart and work for what you want you get your reward.

  • i think you should let your child watch these movies i think you are sheltering her from the real world and if you do that shes only going to rebel and watch them at a friends house saying that you wont let her and as that as a rule in a child’s or when she becomes a teen she will be more inclined to break that rule i see this alot in parents they want to control there children prevent there children but these movies the plot is so simple and so innocent everything you are saying i could never even see where you were coming from when you were writing this and i do not think you have a right to bash or complain about princess movies because i think if you think about i bet your daughter is to scared to admit it but she just wants to be a kid and you as the parent are depriving your young child of imagination that yearning to be a princess that feeling of just pure joy dressing up and pretend are important in child development and i respect that you want your child to be knowledgeable but maybe you can just do things like science and math and reading but i think you are depriving her of something very important and you should be ashamed of your self for just deciding for her that she cant be a princess and that being a princess is bad for that i demote you from a mother mam

  • Why does no one ever remember that TECHNICALLY Mulan is not a PRINCESS! She was seriously awesome and everything and she’s definitely one of my favorite Disney characters….but was she a Princess to begin with? No. Did she marry a Prince? No….So I don’t see why everyone automatically includes her with the other Disney Princesses (even Disney does it.) I’m not saying that Mulan merchandise shouldn’t be sold or that she’s not an amazing character, but she is not technically a Princess. Pocahontas should be considered more as a princess than Mulan should…Pocahontas was the Chief’s daughter which would make her a Princess. Mulan was not a princess. I love her, but she’s not.

  • When she gets older, I believe the hope is that she will have much better judgement than she did as a young child because her mother took the time to educate her on these types of things. She will understand better how Disney doesn’t care what your beliefs are, only that they profit. And the things corporations will do for profits are beyond what anyone would like to believe.

    Hmmm, 95% of kids grow up watching Disney and you say there’s nothing wrong? Let’s see, there are glass ceilings and walls in corporate/business America; we (as women) outnumber men, yet we are grossly under-represented in politics; we still haven’t had a woman as President when most of the other industrialized and progressing nations have; I personally was not a fan of Hillary but to hear how men mocked her was insulting; women who enter fields largely dominated by men are ridiculed and harassed; the poorest sector of our society are women… Shall I continue?

    If you think these movies don’t have at least some impact on the socialization of our children and the cultural values they impart, then you are sorely mistaken.

  • “I think moms who are willing to step outside the norm, in a well thought out, constructive way, to provide what they feel is right, are awesome.”


    I think it just goes to show that the young ladies who’ve posted on here who were raised without Disney movies (and probably much of the pop culture media) have turned out to be far more mature and intelligent at their young ages than most of the other posters on here who are demonizing this woman for her opinion.

    Kudos to these young ladies and their moms!

  • What are the statistics of the Disney channel? My son watches it sometimes and the shows seems pretty horrible. If he acted the way those kids acted, I would be sorely disappointed! I worry more about the shows that have real life characters than cartoons, simply because they can relate more.

  • I don’t let my daughter watch princess movies either! For the exact reason you wrote in the article I have sheltered her as much as I can from Disney (she’s 7).. You are not alone!

  • Hi Meghan,

    I’m only 21 with no kids of my own, and don’t worry, you’re not alone. If I ever have kids, I won’t be letting them watch Disney movies either! I know a lot of the commenters are getting up in arms about how young kids don’t understand some of the nuanced misogynistic undertones of many of these movies, but that’s not the point. The movies are presenting archetypes that are being embedded in their conscious that WILL indeed affect them for the rest of their lives. It’s easy to ridicule your stance, Megan, because many people see it as extreme and dictator-like due to the fact that Disney as a corporation has entrenched itself in the American psyche as being the gold standard of “family-friendly” entertainment. In reality, they perpetuate dualistic gender stereotypes that are outdated (despite the historical contexts of the movies) and harmful. It’s not to say that much (most) other media doesn’t do this, but that Disney is particularly noxious because it has branded itself to be the gold standard of acceptable children’s entertainment.

    Haters gon’ hate, Meghan. Keep singing your truth :)

  • In addition to your very well written point, I don’t like the blatant racial stereotypes. I don’t like the ever present villian, every story does not have to be a battle of good and evil. I don’t like the unattainable ideal of the princess.
    I wish someone would have shown me the Studio Ghibli movies when I was younger. Spirited Away is the most imaginative movie I have ever seen, and Grave of the Fireflies is incredibly powerful and true story (for those who want a splash of history). They treat imagination in the way I see it. They see the world like I wish it could be.

  • Hahaha! I guess I am a lucky parent where my daughter of 10 yrs of age hates Disney princesses! It’s the other way around ’cause I love them! She absolutely refuses to watch them stating that it’s too unrealistic!!! And of course, she hates Barbie too! Now what can I say?!!!

  • I also don´t let my kids watch movies, if they ever watch them at a friend´s house I don´t worry too much. I think it is the constant exposure to these movies that will teach children lessons that don´t go with the values that I want to teach my children. I don´t let, specially my girls watch them, because I don´t want them to over rate beauty or to idealize finding a prince type for a husband.
    In my 6 year old class there are girls chasing boys playing boyfriend and girlfriend and trying to kiss!! (in the mouth) There´s a friend´s daughter that doesn´t play this and then I found out it´s because she doesn´t watch princess movies or Hannah Montana. I don´t forbide the movies, I just don´t buy the movies and I offer other options that my children love. My 4 year old loves princesses and I let her play with the dresses or even princess dolls, I don´t think is bad for her to play this because her imagination is leading her to play princess and mostly what she does while wearing the outfits is dance and twirll around. I´m glad that her play is not mislead by Disney sterotypes. I also want her to grow up a strong woman, she´s beautiful, but I always tell her that beauty comes from inside and that´s what makes people beautiful. Beauty and money are not the most important things in the world…

  • I don’t normally completely disagree with what people say. There are a few rare cases, but this one is just too ridiculous an argument. I’ll tell you several reasons why, but first I should state that I am not a woman myself, nor am I a full fledged adult. I’m writing this from the perspective of a young man who grew up with the disney classics as my primary viewing, and I also know that I grew up into just the kind of ‘ideal’ human that you desperately want your daughter to be, but it wouldn’t have been possible for me to be that if I hadn’t watched the old Disney classics. They are a part of who I am.

    Now the first reason why I find your reasoning so despicable is that you made it seem like the disney movies were purposefully trying to show the shallowness of a girl’s way of thinking (I don’t think in the slightest that girls are shallow minded, and if anything believe my own sex to be the more shallow minded ones) and that you assume that everyone sees that at face value because you see that more than anything. You’ve watched all of these disney classics and that single point has stood out to you so much because you were desperately looking for a contradiction to it, and when you didn’t find it in the films it stood out to you as a negative and you couldn’t appreciate any of the other main positive points that the films had. Your case is a classic example of the idea that you only see what you want to see, or its contradiction in a film. The one you see more of determines whether or not you like the film, which is why you hate them so much. You saw the contradiction all of the time. But can you say with all honesty that the point you’ve seen in the films is what you believe your daughter will see in the film? Absolutely not! When you are at that young age it is near to impossible to think in that way and be that analytical of a film; I know because when I was that age I was, like all other children who watch disney, watching them for entertainment, excitement, and the ability to let my imagination run wild, because that was what I wanted to see. You couldn’t possibly see the things you picked up on at that age. Your idea of reality and how the world works is nowhere near vast enough to for you to realise those things. Even now at 16, after re-watching all of my old disney classics (only one of which, I might add, is a disney princess movie) I didn’t pick up on any issues of female inferiority, romantic naivete or shallow mindedness. All I saw were messages about life lessons, hidden away inside fantasies that I watched as a child, only now being revealed to me. Believe me, that is what your daughter would see if she watched the disney classics. Not the negative points that you picked up on, because they are not what she would be looking for.

    The second reason is that you are basing your argument around 5-10 disney films that all have the same thing in common: they are all disney princess movies. Naturally you would pick up on the above points if they are the only disney movies that you are watching. Believe it or not there are over 40 different disney animated films out there and over 2/3 of those films don’t include disney princesses at all. If you are really that paranoid about your daughter having bad female role models then don’t just dismiss the whole set of disney classics as if they all include the same thing that you dislike about them. You should watch some of the other 30 or so other disney films that aren’t about disney princesses and let your daughter watch those. It’s impossible to get animal role models after all, no matter how imaginative you are.

    Finally the third reason is that you not wanting her to see the films is a part of a trap that many parents who try to set guidelines and rules for their children fall into: Reverse Psychology. It’s in human nature even at a young age to not be satisfied with what you have and want the things that are often out of your reach or you aren’t allowed to have. Especially if other people have it. Over time of not having what you want your desire for it gets stronger until you must have it regardless of the consequences, and that causes misunderstanding with the parent because they think that their child is trying to defy them and do what they want, and they set sterner rules which in turn fuels a deeper desire for things that they haven’t got in a process known as a Vicious Cycle. I’m not saying that will happen with your daughter but it is something that you must be wary of when forbidding a child from having, doing, or being something. It is often the reason for rebellious behaviour when a child gets older.

    You don’t have to listen to me, but I believe that I have given valid points on my side of the argument. I myself think that not having the disney classics as part of your young life is a serious loss to your early learning and the widening of your imagination. I believe it to be a crucial part of raising a child to be all of the right things, even though I have no experience yet, but I intend to pass the wonder of the disney classics on with me so that my children can be nurtured and raised in the right way. If you didn’t grow up with at least some of the disney classics in your early life then I do feel sorry for you, if you did then you will understand the magic of disney that you felt at that age and the joys it brings you when you were younger, but it doesn’t mean you should deny that joy to your child if you haven’t.

  • seriously? these shows aren’t reality, and so what if they knew each other for only 2 hours and got married? if they knew each other for a year or so, and the movie was a year or so would that make you feel better?

  • seriously? these shows aren’t reality, and so what if they knew each other for only 2 hours and got married? if they knew each other for a year or so, and the movie was a year or so would that make you feel better?

  • I’m assuming you didn’t really “get” The Little Mermaid. She gives up her ability to speak/sing/hold a conversation. The prince loses a lot of interest in her after finding out she’s a mute. It’s not until later, when she has her voice back. No, it’s not the BEST example of the way a good relationship works, but it’s a cartoon loosely based on a fairy tale. Get over yourself and let your daughter enjoy the magic.

  • I grew up on Disney movies and still watch them, and I don’t see what the problem is. Talk with your daughter and firmly let her know that life isn’t like the world of Disney and there should be no problem. How old is your daughter? If she’s over the age of 5 then she should be able to disconnect Disney from the real world.

  • The movies are for children to entertain children, not to teach them that beauty, kindness, and manners is the way to marriage love is what really matters.

  • I don’t disagree with your points, but wouldn’t it be better to watch the movies together and talk about the things that bother you? When my daughter was very small, we went to see animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I should have known better and it turned out to be a mistake, but a fortunate one. We got to talk about why I so disliked this movie. We watched and talked about all of the Disney movies, princess and animal genres. Now, as a young woman, she makes many of the same points about these movies that you have made yourself. She’s better armed against such stereotypes because she knew to look for them, I think.

    I completely agree with you about The Incredibles! Probably my favorite animated movie, ever.

  • I am a 12-year-old boarding school student. I practically prefer Brave over all of the Disney movies because Merida, unlike other princesses is a strong willed cheracter who dosen’t swoon over princes. Our world is dominated by so called romances. It’s propelling girls like me to write about, dream of and love boys! I can’t take it anymore! Girls sould be their own person and not change for any “hot guy”! That’s why I love Brave’s Merida and avoid magazines.

  • I wanted to say thank you for saying what you believe in. While I agree on a few points, I think the most important part is to have conversations with your children about what the movie meant to them and discuss the lessons you want them to learn.

    I am sorry you have received so much backlash for saying what you think. Come on, people, just because you disagree doesn’t mean you need to jump down someone’s throat.

    I don’t have any children yet, but I do teach preschool, and have conversations about my kids about what they think about the Disney movies and what they learned from them. I feel that way, the “being pretty and everything will come to you” doesn’t get emphasized.

  • Okay, I’m sixteen and grew up entirely on Disney movies, and all my life I’ve praised them like a deity and lived by them because, well, they were my childhood.
    I hadn’t watched them for a few years, but recently I started rewatching them for old time’s sake and realised… that they completely suck.

    I completely agree with you. They’re really screwed up, and almost no one else seems to want to agree with me. Hunchback was the one that completely pushed me over the edge though – so no matter how kind you are, or how much you love someone and how much you are willing to lose for them, you will never be loved back because you are ugly on the outside? Well done, Disney. All the silver stars for you and your screwed up messages.

    I do reckon Brave was good though – FINALLY, no prince in shining armour to take the glory away. Hallelujah. And a big ‘screw you’ to all those critics who immediately assumed that meant she was a lesbian.

    Little kids are ridiculously impressionable – I mean, I have a mortal phobia of apes just from accidentally walking in on my parents watching Planet of the Apes when I was little, and I still have nightmares. These morals might not be obvious, but they’re there, and the childish mind picks up on a hell of a lot more than anyone realises. Maybe even the writers didn’t know what they were doing, but let me tell you something: a few weeks ago, my school was having a thing called a “learning conference”, which I won’t get into because it’s irrelevant, but basically, in a class of around 25, they asked us the question “Do you have to be attractive in order to be famous?” Only I and TWO OTHER PEOPLE said no. This is legitimate.

    There’s also the fact that people seem to think they look “hideous” if they’re not wearing make-up these days – actual quote here.

    I don’t know if this is Disney’s fault and, frankly, I don’t care. But no one can pretend that there isn’t a problem here.

  • You poor people, maybe some of you people should not watch Disney movies but let your kids, as they are good movies and kids love them! If you think Disney movies are damaging, and you need to shelter your kids, then you better lock them in a closet and never let them go to school. Its going to be a bumpy ride! And for the record there is no problem here!!

  • I totally and utterly agree with your post, and I am so glad to hear someone else eloquently explain the reasons why typical Disney films may not be ideal viewing for girls. I am currently expecting my first child, and do not yet know the sex, but already family members and friends are discussing how if it is a girl, they can buy her barbies and get her ‘Disney’ products, and when I express my disdain for this they are horrified! Why must girls be exposed to such mundane stereotypes? Why not give the something other than beauty and marriage to hope and aspire too? Also most of the Disney tales I object to are bad rip offs of older and far more interesting stories so why no just read the originals?

  • I am another who does not let my daughter watch any disney movies. When she is older she can choose to watch them herself and if she likes them, I am fine with that. While I still have control over what she sees I will not buy these kinds of movies. In fact, I probably take it a step further because we do not have cable so the only TV we watch are DVDs or things purchased on the ipad. The message: TV isn’t important, let’s go outside and play!

  • I agree,I am 13 and a really dont care for Disney movies. My favorite movie as a kid(and still now) is Spirited Away. The meaning I got from it was,no matter what,always remember your name and who you are. I recommend it! It’s a great movie. The girl has to save her family when they go into an odd world filled with spirits.

  • Another reason why SA is good is because you learn not to be consumed by greed and want,as chihiro’s parents did. Chihiro is a great character. She saves her family in such a great way. I love the characters,they still teach me and help me today. Not only does chihiro save here family,she helps Haku remember who he is and release the control zenba(I believe that’s her name) has over him because he helped her so much when she first got stuck in the odd world she is in. It also is full of fantasy and interesting creatures. I love the little soot sprites. Haku is such an interesting character and everything about the movie is great :)

  • I completely agree, I have 2 daughters and am struck by the wholly inappropriate themes and content of many so-called children’s films (especially Disney). There is constant harping on about beauty, relationships etc. Most 5-8 years old love nature, adventures and experiences – why not focus on more wholesome and age-appropriate content? Stop grooming kids.

  • “I demote you from a mother mam”- Who the fuck do you think you are? Here is a woman trying to do the best for her child- actually thinking through what she exposes her to instead of mindlessly letting her grow up thinking she has to be a certain way, look a certain way and so on. By what authority exactly can you demote anyone whether you agree with what she is doing or not?

  • I agree with you completely. Most Disney movies are cliched garbage that do nothing except enforce antiquated stereotypes. The problem I have with Disney movies that are geared toward older kids (grade school age), is the gratuitous violence and they awful things characters say to each other. Within the first 15 minutes of Finding Nemo, Nemo tells his father he hates him. In Brave, I believe Merida says she hates her mother. In Cars, Lighting McQueen says he “eats losers for breakfast”. NICE! I know the world isn’t all hearts and sparkles and unicorns prancing, but I’m so tired of bad behavior in these movies. I thought Brave was horrid. The scene where the mother turns into a bear and fights the other bear is so disgustingly violent, I was sitting in disbelief. The only reason I even let my child watch the above mentioned movies is because we were invited along to see them with a group.

  • “If you think these movies don’t have at least some impact on the socialization of our children and the cultural values they impart, then you are sorely mistaken.”

    To include Disney movies as part of the society’s problems is kinda, well, ridiculous. Why are we bringing Disney movies, that are merely meant for entertainment into politics? Why so serious?

    We are making progress (which is and always will be slow) and so are Disney movies. The truth is, the early Disney movies were made when social norms were different. Look at Disney movies now. They are portraying stronger female leads and other strong, valuable story lines. Disney movies did not make society the way it is.

    Anyways, kids won’t refer Disney movies to the crummy politics we have or make it a model of the society we have today. For myself, I enjoyed Disney because of the magic. Because the imagination… the magic. Because I enjoyed it, my parents allowed me to watch it. All my parents cared about was my happiness, contentment and creativity and felt that Disney movies did that.

    It’s also not like I watched it alone, my parents were there to explain to me things I didn’t understand.

  • I agree with you completely.

  • This. This exactly.

    I’m 17 and a female and as a kid, saw Disney movies the way you did.

  • I am seventeen and a girl. When I was younger I was exposed to Disney movies but I always found faults with them. I remember watching Beauty and the Beast when I was seven and then looking at my mother and saying ‘the Grimm Brothers were better’. I also thought that Belle needed to learn how to be independent, she was in an abusive relationship and she, apparently the ‘smart’ princess, was too dumb to figure out that she had chosen to become a captive. Yet, she treats the guy who she bargained with to take her instead of her dad as if he had chosen her fate without telling her…when he actually did so completely before sh agreed. Cinderella annoys me because she just walks around the house blindly doing whatever her stepfamily says either while crying in self-pity or smiling this little, dopey smile and acting as if she is happy as could be. The others don’t even seem that evil, just bratty and aloof, I liked the original version much better than Disney’s. Then Ariel tells me to go after a man by getting plastic surgury and giving up my most valuable possesion, my voice, for a guy I don’t even know. I should also loose my family forever if that would make my ‘true love’ happy. so many more so little time…anyways, Disney is NOT the reason you are a so-called ‘ideal human being’…because you aren’t. None of us are. Don’t be so freaking full of yourselves.

  • I’m glad to see that someone else agrees that most disney movies are not appropriate for young children. I’m 27 years old and about to have my first daughter and I plan on not exposing her to this fairy tale dream land. I grew up watching disney movies and it has taken me a long time to realize that being nice will not tame the beast, that running away from home to be with a boy you barely know isn’t going to make everything perfect, that cleaning up after a man will not make him love you more, and that you don’t have to be the prettiest girl in the land. People always say that little kids don’t understand what’s going on in these movies, but they do. And the older they get (the more they watch them) the more emotionally moved they are by them. The more they think about being desirable (totally not something that should be on their minds). The more they expect this idealistic view of what a relationship is (which is completely skewed and unrealistic). Besides, there are plenty of other good movies out there for kids about sharing, friendship and kindness. I don’t think not letting your kids watch disney movies is depriving them in any way and I don’t think they are going to lash out when they are older because they didn’t grow up on disney. Thanks for sharing.

  • I completely agree with you!!! I have seen too many kids grow up with Disney as their babysitter (I was allowed to watch a few, Lion King was favorite) but I always remember from a young age wanting the perfect husband, to get married young and have a life of sunshine and rainbows. It sets you up for unrealistic expectations and thankfully I taught myself that early. Learn how to “rescue” yourself, don’t wait for a man to do it for you. The kids I know that have had a Disney babysitter have “boyfriends & girlfriends” (I put it in quotes because it’s ridiculous) in preschool and beyond and have the attitude of a princess, meaning everything will be awarded to you as long as you look pretty. What happened to jumping in mud and being a kid? Discovering the world around you instead of waiting in a tower for a prince to come save you. So know, you’re NOT alone. My child (son or daughter) will NOT be watching Disney either.

  • I respect your decision, and after all she is your daughter, but I do have to say I think you have a limited view of these movies. Yes, even I, a completely disney obsessed girl, will admit they have faults, but they also taught me to believe in myself, be kind to others, and follow my dreams. Many of the older movies you mentioned earlier on (snow white, Cinderella, sleeping beauty) were in fact products of their time periods. However, Cinderella is my favorite movie, and I believe that Cinderella is a strong character despite what some may think. She dealt with emotional abuse on a daily basis but remained true to herself and her dreams. In fact, if you would watch the movie, you might fine she can be a bit sassy at times, especially for 1950. Cinderella may have had her dreams, but she didn’t just wait for something to happen. She knew she deserved better so when she had her chance, she took it; sure she had a little help but doesn’t everyone in life? Also, I think it’s unfair to say that when people think of disney they think of princess. There are 52 disney animated films plus now 14 disney Pixar ones; only 11 of these are considered official disney princess films. So if it’s disney princess your against, please don’t rule out all of disney because they are amazing pieces of art with many valuable lessons. Thank you for your time.

  • Something I just thought about adding: if you don’t like certain aspects of the file then maybe once your child gets a bit older you would explain to her why you don’t like certain aspects of them and explain to her that it is just a movie and not a recipient for life. I think the children that end up in trouble are the ones with parents who blindly let their children watch any movie without distinguishing between a certain part of a plot in a movie and realistic life expectations, even though it may seem obvious to an adult.

  • Oh, thank God. I won’t let my daughter watch Disney movies either. So many, many reasons why!!

  • So glad I found this. I don’t want my young daughters to see these films either, and you’ve spelled out in great detail a lot of the discomfort I have with those films.

  • I actually went looking for something like this so that I could try to get tmy husband to understand why I don’t want our future child to watch these, he just thinks I’m over thinking it all. I’m glad I was able to find someone that agrees with me. It’s sad though because your post has now ruined mulan for me which was one of my favorite Disney movies. I can’t believe I didn’t realize those things before. The original mulan story you mentioned sounds awesome though, ill have to look for it!

  • Super overprotective and lame.

  • If you are trying to protect you children from Disney movies, you and you kids have a rough road ahead of you….it’s Disney!!!!! Come on!!!!!!!

  • Curious how “everyone” accepts that kids should be watching TV,movies, ….. at all. My parents chose to never own a television, so we read incessantly and invented with our own imaginations. The worst of “Disney” and all other such “entertainment” is that it teaches you to be passive and let others frame the “argument”. By now the major “game” for corporations like Disney/ABC is to take all these “children” trained to be passive and continue manipulating the arguments. That is why the US the most censored “news media” in the world.

  • Can anyone give a list of good stuff for children to watch please because I agree I do not like my daughter watching Disney cartoons.

  • Hey, I get your view I do, and some of it makes sense. But your missing the story.

    First of all if you do the math you’ll realize that Beast was only a child when he was turned into a monster (around 9 I think/ Unless these people just never aged). And yeah he had the furniture and clock and stuff to raise him but 1, he’s the biggest one in the house and the one that has the most power (both physically and class wise) 2, his parents apparently left after he was turned into a monster because you never hear or see them, so lets think about that. A little boy is mean to an old woman (not that surprising) he gets cursed, (old lady is going a little far, i mean its a kid) and abandoned by parents who more then likely weren’t in the house. So yes he throw’s tantrums its not like ol’ Clocky was gonna scold him and put him in a time out.

    Mulan first of all isn’t just a poem but an actual person who was alive and did those things. And if you weren’t paying attention yeah she hide that she was a boy, not gonna a lie i wouldn’t care, but your not thinking of these events in those time periods they are suppose to take place. Shaung was just betrayed by someone he was becoming friend’s with and someone that he had started to look at proudly (Mulan kicked his but and he smiled at Mulan in pride) so yeah when its found out that she is a she he is HURT- The guy also just lost his father- No if you watch the scene they leave Mulan with food and a blanket and obviously it didn’t take her that long to get to them when she needed to so she wasn’t that far from civilization so he did not leave her to die. So re cap- Dead dad, betrayed by new friend, hurt both emotionally and a little physically (wasn’t he unconscious on the horse when they pulled him up) of course when he saw Mulan again he wasn’t going to listen to her. He was hurt and angry- people don’t listen when they are hurt and angry. Yeah the emperor had to tell him to go after the girl but look- he just ignored her and she was right and yeah they had that amazing head nod of understanding but know their expected to talk (did you see how flustered he was when he talked to her at her house?) and he has to apologize and hey maybe they could try something. The only mentioning of marriage was from the grandma, Mulan only invited him for tea, or supper… i don’t remember which.

    Yeah their slightly sexist, most of our society is, but your not looking at historical facts- in those times that was expected of women. and FYI Ariel was mute for most of the movie but being mute- its a thing and you not liking it because Ariel is “desirable” because of it is really off. Eric could have loved her for her enthusiasm and goofiness and how she didn’t seem to understand basic things like forks. No it wasn’t love at first sight for him or her muteness, i believe he feel in love with her personality which showed through her curiosity.

    Belle teaches girls they can be smart and like books- Mulan teaches them to fight- Ariel teaches them to stand up for themselves even if its against their parents especially if its something you really believe in. The message they send isn’t just what YOU see, but how you interpenetrate it. True loves kiss may be just a fairy tale but true loves kiss is suppose to represent love, being loved for liking books or being goofy. True loves kiss represents being loved truly and wholly by someone.

    I’m not going to tell you what to let your Child/Children watch. But i grew up watching Disney and that is what it taught me. And Sleeping Beauty was my favorite.

  • Bravo to you darling! I not only agree one hundred percent with you but I believe you provide some excellent points on gender roles and society. Raising a child in today’s society is hard enough, Disney’s Princess movies display outdated ideals. I back you up on your argument and have begun writing my own essay on this topic, I stumbled upon your essay while doing my research and will site you as a reference. Again kudos to you!

  • Glad to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t like Disney. All my friends (I’m 15) are obsessing over it, but I really don’t get why.

  • […] & blog posts on related topics: Why My Daughter Doesn’t Watch Disney Movies Disney Princess Recovery, a “site which logs the experiences of one parent and my quest to […]

  • I grew up watching Disney movies. When I was young, the though of these girls just needing to be pretty to be happy never flew through my mind. I am now 15 and I still look back at what Disney movies taught me. Cinderella taught me to be kind to people even though they act terribly rude to you. I think it is great that you are protecting your daughter from movies that may harm her. However, this may cause her to be rebellious. My dad converted to Christianity about 4 years ago and is now restricting my sisters and I to watch certain movies. He recently decided that he does not want us to watch Disney movies and more movies that everyone my age is watching.

    I feel that my sisters and I are more rebellious because our parent aren’t letting us do and watch certain things. If I were you, I would be careful because Parents never want to be the ones with rebellious children. But, us children want freedom. Anyways, thank you for giving me a good and interesting read. Every person has a valid opinion. In this case-I being the teenager who is affected by a parents opinion- disagree with you:) Thank you for your time!

  • I very much dislike that so many kids movies are about marriage or have some type of prominent love story. The only thing I disagree with in this post is the idea that girls should have strong female role models. Not that they shouldn’t see strong women or look up to them if that is their inclination, definitely not. It was probably unintentional, but it comes across as if you believe femininity and “weak” women are inferior. Men and women both have been very negatively effected by the idea that femininity is bad and men must be strong and manly to be worth anything, I don’t feel this is a good belief to instill in girls either. If a girl (or a boy for that matter) loves pink and girly things and grows up to be more passive, sensitive, and gentle, that’s beautiful thing as well. I think peaceful and compassionate people, who don’t need to be strong and poweful to contribute and feel worthwhile, are something all children should see (though disney princess movies do not succeed in showing that, they go too far in the other direction). More balance is needed to create a generation of level headed adults who take responsibilty for their own emotions, while embracing their inner nature as it is.

  • I am 26 now, working and studying and happily UNmarried…I am currently rewatching classic Disney movies and I must say that only after watching the movies again did I understand their “other meanings”, messages only adults would understand. Seriously, I still remember being 6 and watching Disney movies but I don’t believe it had any negative impact on me whatsoever. It was all just innocent entertainment for me. I didn’t even understand the whole concept of romance back then!.

    Plus seriously… there are sooooooo many other way worse terrible stuff out there that can influence your children, even catchy songs on the radio has terrible messages… but i dont think the princesses movies are one of them. I mean what’s up with Teletubbies? That stuff has always freaked me out as a kid. And Thomas the tank engine.. that show has some strange storylines. One particular episode of it, I realised that if u convert the train characters to human characters, one of the train characters just killed someone (a red train) accidentally by pushing him off the boat and won’t tell anyone even when the other trains were asking where the red train was.

    I think a lot of shows/songs/movies these days, if translated by us adults, we’ll always find some weird ‘unwanted’ subliminal messages that we don’t want our children to be exposed to..even Sesame street’s Bert & Ernie is a good example!.. but as children..i really dont think they soak it up as much as you’re making it out to be.

    If anything… disney movies (esp Cinderella) helped me out as a kid. I remember going thru tough time (wanting to vanish from the face of earth at the age of 7) but Cinderella taught me that any hardships i may have is only temporary and there will be light at the end of the tunnel and everything will be alright in time if i just hang on a bit longer…. and no.. i didnt think a rich handsome powerful nameless prince was going to rescue me.. i was smart enough as a kid to know that it’s just a fairytale not reality! And ever since i can remember, i have always told myself that i will not marry until i finish my education and have a proper job and financial independence. So i really dont think Disney movies influenced me in a bad way..and again… there are way way way way worse things out there in the world and if you try to shield your children from ALL of them… i dont think you’ll find time to do anything else in your life. You might as well ban your children from leaving your house.

    And this is coming from a 26yr old independent woman who grew up watching Disney and yup…like most of the princesses, I didn’t have any parents around. Just my two mean brothers who’d usually bash me up if I didn’t do what I’m told.. plenty of cousins, aunts and uncles around who didn’t help me out whenever I was being punched or kicked by my siblings…and never did i believe that only a prince charming can rescue me. I knew even as a kid.. I just needed to hang on a bit and grow up so my brother couldn’t beat the cr*p out of me anymore.. (even telling the other adults back then didn’t do me any good).

    Anyway long live Disney!

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