I wonder when he started out could Walt Disney ever have imagined the way his empire has diversified? When he first devised and drew Mortimer Mouse (later renamed Mickey at the suggestion of the late Mickey Rooney) I’m sure that he would never have thought that Disney would go on to become one of the most powerful and influential multinationals the world has ever seen.
For better or worse Disney has been a part of the lives of everyone reading this post. At one point in time or another everyone has been influenced by the machinations of the happiest kingdom of them all. But has this influence always been positive, especially for young girls?
Think of the way in which the majority of the female characters have been drawn. I cannot think of any “Leading Lady” characters who are depicted as anything but lean. Cinderella, Belle, Elsa (from Frozen) are all drawn with slim waists and long flowing locks.
Human actors are also depicted in a similar vain; Anne Hathaway in the Princess Diaries, Keira Knightley in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins readily spring to mind.
There are no normal or “plus” size women who play leading, heroic roles in Disney Movies. At best they are represented as well meaning support players – think Mrs Potts from Beauty and the Beast or at worse they are shown to be villainous and stupid such as the ugly sisters in Cinderella.
Has Disney deliberately set out to stereotype the Western cultural understanding of what it means to be beautiful, successful and popular. Based on the continuing repetition of the product it produces I would say yes. If this is indeed the case are we as parents just as culpable for allowing this misrepresentation to continue to flourish through our purchasing of movie tickets and accompanying merchandise.
More and more people these days are questioning the concepts of beauty and how it’s portrayed. Social media and its commentators are throwing up different ideas and interpretations. Clothing catalogues from the large chain stores have a greater representation of the typically sized Australian woman then ever before and this must be applauded. But it does appear that Disney continues to hang onto its rolled gold formula of stereotyping women as thin, often vulnerable and with big doe eyes.
The thing is that I genuinely love Disney movies and as much as the way they portray women annoys me I’ll still go and see them.
Far better to light a candle than blindly curse at the darkness?
What do you think? Have I missed the mark here or is there something to it?
Am I being hypercritical in continuing to support Disney?