Fuck you Disney princesses

Disney Princesses

h/t to Sociological Images

Fuck you Disney Princesses. Out of all the things in my anti-feminist childhood, I have to say that I dislike you the most. Your perfect hair and submissive mannerisms were never the most sexist thing on the block, but you certainly were the most influential. Even though I found that I had a hard time relating to most of you, you still stood alongside Barbie as the most available commercial female role models. You were pretty, nice, and got to have magical adventures. You always fulfilled the things demanded of you by society eventually, and got together with a very charming handsome prince. Or at least you snagged a man who eventually became a prince or someone of equal importance.

To a hopelessly nerdy tom-boyish girl who related to books better than she related to girls and boys her age, you represented an ideal that I know I ought to meet, but found myself unable to. My hair was always too short, my figure too stocky, and the boys seemed to prefer girls more like you than like me. Since having a boyfriend was the best indication of social standing by the time I hit nine, I was equal parts envious and awe-stricken. I even dressed up as both Jasmine and Pocahontas several times each for Halloween, and lovingly kept the costumes even when I grew out of them. Today, I try to tell myself that at least I was unconsciously progressive enough as a child to choose the non-white and more rebellious princesses as my favorites, but the fact still remained that I looked up to you, the childhood scions of anti-feminist lore.

You taught me a lot of things; most of which were incredibly damaging. You taught me that it’s only appropriate to look up to men, and that all older women are inevitably evil, unless they are fairies. You taught me that mothers are useless, and better off dead, and that fathers are well-meaning tyrants that must be defied in small ways because they were understandably hesitant to hand over their power over you to another man.

You taught me that I must be nice to even the meanest of men, in case they were a prince and my kindness and resemblance to a door-mat could redeem them. If they were genuinely mean, I ought to know instinctively, or at least suffer silently until a prince rescued me. If I tried to rescue myself, I would inevitably end up in more trouble. You taught me that good girls always enjoy housework, caring for children, and sacrificing themselves for the sake of a man.

You taught me that that sacrificing myself for the sake of men may involve using my sexuality to seduce villains that I want absolutely nothing to do with, putting my life on the line, allowing myself to be imprisoned and abused, and giving up all the hobbies and talents that defined who I was. Those hobbies and talents didn’t really matter anyways, because they were only bargaining chips for snagging a prince, who cared more for my physical beauty then anything I was capable of or enjoyed doing.

You taught me that men knew better than me, even if they were abusive, angry, immature, and foolhardy. You taught me that the most important thing in a man is his legacy and royalty, his physical attractiveness, and his charm and wit. If he wasn’t royal, he must fake it, even if a show of material things didn’t really impress me. For a prince charming must buy me, even if I don’t wish to be bought. A proper man, you see, always pays for me, because women are objects.

You taught me that men go out and do things, and that I’m just there as a prize to be won or a silently suffering support system who is always waiting, never doing.

You taught me that I must wait for “true love” and never waste myself on short but enjoyable flings. True love was always the product of a simple kiss, by which I could determine the course of the rest of my life. You taught me that there was no divorce, no uncertainty, and no break-ups. A princess stays with one man, the first man, forever. You taught me that a whore moves on and does what she think is best for herself. A whore leaves a man who is abusive and angry instead of sacrificing her comfort and pride to turn him into a prince. You taught me that all men are redeemable by the charm of my physical beauty, naïve optimism, and willingness to put up with anything.

You taught me that if I somehow erred and found myself with a man who was not redeemable, it was because he was a villain that I must stay with until a true price comes and saves the day. If said prince never came, it was because I was not sufficiently beautiful and forgiving to the man I was with, and that if I tried harder, he would stop being so abusive. You taught me a that a good girl is never single, and never happy being single. Her entire life revolves around men and self-sacrificing relationships.

You taught me that good men will overlook me if I’m poor, too homely, or insufficiently wealthy. I must wait for someone to grant me with the material objects to fake being wealthy instead of seeking them myself. You taught me that if a prince only notices me if I doll myself up and meet his expectations of womanhood, that he isn’t a materialistic shallow jerk, but that I must follow certain rules and never question status-quo in order to be happy and taken seriously.

You taught me that men blinded by their incredibly lofty, but never wrong or shallow, standards for the opposite sex, and are therefore easily manipulated by the physical beauty of evil women, and thus that I must “save him” by being even more physically beautiful than them. You taught me that if I was richer or more beautiful than a man, that my wealth and power and standards of physical beauty were erroneous, and that I should be happy to marry  a thief or someone cursed or disfigured. You taught me that I must meet his standards, whether he is a prince or a pauper, and that his standards are always right, and mine are always wrong.

You taught me that a princess is never gay, fat, anything less than absolutely stunning, or a tomboy out of anything other than desperation. You taught me that inter-racial relationships are only allowable if my prince is conquering or colonizing my hopelessly backwards and savage ethnicity; an ethnicity that is always somehow more sexist than his. You taught me that only then is it fine if I wish myself to be his “prize” for showing the savages the benevolence of the white man.

You taught me that good girls only marry for love, but somehow inexplicably only fall in love with conquerors, princes, and men who could suitably become royalty.

Disney princesses, you taught me a lot of things, but never how to be true to myself. You never taught me how to love my mother or have good female friends. You never taught me how to look up to anyone who didn’t have a penis. You never taught me how to be successful by not waiting for the heavens to open up and hand things to me because I was beautiful or because I existed only to make myself beautiful. You never taught me how to deal with what I was given instead of wishing for a man to save me and bring me back into line with the status-quo. You never taught me how to fall in love with someone I was actually attracted to or someone that was good for more than trying to save me when I was perfectly capable of saving myself. You never taught me how to say no to anyone. You never taught me how to watch my ass, protect my self-esteem, and judge standards for myself. You never taught me how to think for myself. You never taught me about things that mattered like politics, ethics, or anything else but fashion and a narrow definition of love. You never taught me to get out of tight spots by my own wit and force of will. You never taught me that my sexuality wasn’t a bargaining tool, a prize to be won, or the only thing about me that was worth two shits.

Out of all the things you didn’t teach me, you didn’t teach me that being a chubby bookish gay girl who didn’t take shit from anyone was perfectly okay. You did teach me, however, that I was a freak of nature. You taught me that I ought to put down the books, shut my mouth, and take up putting on makeup and doing laundry as my hobbies instead. You taught me that I should fumble my way through several ill-fated abusive or uncomfortable relationships with men instead of looking for love where I was endlessly more likely to find it. You taught me that my body was an unruly tool, and that by viciously controlling it with eating-disordered behaviors and self-hatred I might become a woman worth anything but scorn.

But you only succeeded in teaching me these things because you weren’t alone. You were a bullhorn in a room of sympathizers. There were healthier less damaging whispers around the outskirts, but you and the like-minded denounced them as social pariahs, sexual deviants, mentally disturbed, and political extremists. As a girl desperately just wanting to disappear and fit it, I never really had a chance. Neither, I gather, did the majority of my peers.

In short, fuck you Disney princesses. I will not pay to see your regressive movies, I will not look up to your flawless beauty-standard-compliant faces. Additionally, I will live my life telling everyone who will listen that we’ve got it all wrong. You and your clique of impossibly beautiful peers are the ones that ought to be silenced and ostracized. Not me, and not all those other beautiful and achingly real girls who desperately need to be heard and appreciated for how they are, not scorned for how they fail to be just like you: the perfectly useless, silent, submissive princess.

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Posted on October 29, 2009, in Babies and Boners, Beauty Ideal, Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Yes!

    I have a daughter now, and I think about how I will navigate these things, what I’ll tell her when all her friends are obsessed with the latest Disney princess. I know I can’t shelter her from everything, but I hope I’ll be able to provide her with lots of healthy alternatives that won’t make her subconsciously aspire to things that no human being can ever possibly do or be.

    Great post.

    • You will be my personal hero if you manage to raise a daughter less tainted by Disney than the rest of us. I figure that you’ll be hers too, which is the most important thing of all.

  2. i watched all these too, as a child. werent snow white and aurora both unconscious, when their “princes” kissed them? how is THAT a good message for anyone? you are supposed to literally lay there looking flawless, until someone comes along and sexually assualts you? then and only then does your life really begin? luckily, i was in high school by the time the little mermaid came out. not too impressionable by that time, but seriously, WTF? she cant talk?

    the thing that you wrote here that most resonated with me was that all “real” girls have boyfriends. not sure if i got that directly from disney or not, but that was certainly a constant, that carried from real life to childrens movies. and “be nice to men no matter how mean they are, because they might change.” HA! where has THAT ever gotten anyone? my dad used to literally RAGE that i didnt respect him, and i would tell him that he didnt deserve my respect just because he was my moms sperm donor, who cares? LOL why should anyone respect a man who rages? DUH. good post.

  3. Hey-great post! Great rant–I get what you’re saying, and I agree in so many ways. Although I was raised my a feminist, I was still allowed to watch disney movies and pretty much anything else. We always talked about them, critically, but still–the messages got through to me through my friends and the dominant culture. I always felt that romance and beauty were the most important things I could aspire to. Of course they’re products of culture, and interact with traditional gender roles, etc., but they do have an impact on so many young women along with many other things.

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