What Disney Has Taught Me About Stereotyping Women

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Shower V Bath – Which One Do You Prefer?

Last year I wrote a piece about whether toilet paper should be fed from the bottom or over the top of the roll. To say it created quite a shit storm of comment would be an under statement. It was amazing the strong feeling generated by each camp. Who would have thought that the orientation of the feed would create such controversy.

But where do you stand on the shower V bath issue?

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As a baby, toddler and dare I say a good portion of primary school the bath was the only option. Now the bath could also take many forms. The kitchen sink or a wash basin was used on occasions when a more formalised and permanent repository for water was unavailable. None of our tax deductions seemed to care as long as a floating toy was available.

As a water saving initiative the bath has no peer. To save on water one child after another would have a turn at sharing the skin flakes of their siblings. But the real treat was when they got to share the water together. In a funny sort of way I think they’ve all grown a little closer for the experience.

The thousands spent on therapy have been worth it. You can hardly notice the mental trauma or twitching these days when a tap is turned on.

Speaking for myself I can’t seem to clearly remember when it happened but at some stage during my own primary school years I found myself standing under a stream of water instead of luxuriating in my tub. Over the years it is the shower that has become the norm simply because of it speed and efficiency but every now and again I treat myself to the sensation of lying in my own filth. Especially after a hard day on the tools, a bath with salts and a beer to wash away the dust is one of life’s simple pleasures.

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The bath truly is one of life’s great escape destinations. To take the time to be with ones self (or with a loved one) and to not give a toss about what is happening outside the closed door. The shower just can’t capture the same experience.

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And if I’ve remembered when first running the water I’ll be accompanied in my bath by a gigantic array of bubbles with which to form into all manner of objects. Truly, is there anything that feels better than a bubble bath beard?

How about you – Is it a bath or a shower that floats your boat?

Would Jesus Flourish On Social Media

If he was alive today and wanted to get his message out … Would Jesus flourish on social media or would he struggle to have his words, thoughts and philosophies heard above the white noise generated on the Internet?

As an exercise in thought I’ve often wondered this. Taken literally and transformed into today’s world how would a carpenter from the middle east create enough interest to go viral?

Would he have a Facebook page, Instagram or a Twitter account? What would be his hashtag? If he did what would he do to generate followers. Would Jesus set up a website, create memes and vines, write a blog or contribute to online chat rooms and webinars?

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Would his message of loving your enemies in the current climes of the Palestinian / Israeli impasse be taken as the limited ravings of an all together out of touch nobody looking to generate his own 15 seconds of fame. Would there be latent suspicions of his intentions given his nationality and language. Would the brush of racism paint him as a dark skinned extremist?

What if the miracle of turning water into wine was captured by a smartphone and uploaded onto YouTube. Would it be considered nothing more exciting than the hundred of magicians who have uploaded similar tricks. A clear liquid transfered into a dark one. Ho Hum.

How about raising the dead or walking on water? Can you imagine the ridicule, fear and panic that would generate. Feeding a multitude of people with just a few bits of bread and a couple of fish? Yeah right. The Internet is filled with doctored video’s and outlandish claims. Social media would have a field day.

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At the very best he might be considered eccentric, maybe a harmless buffoon or a novelty.

At worst, would a comparison be made with the modern television evangelical crusaders? Or would history repeat itself and he be considered a dangerous agitator and enemy of the state. Someone who must be eliminated.

So would Jesus flourish on social media? I honestly believe that if Jesus was given all of the electronic tools available today would struggle to have his message and teachings heard. As a society we are just too cynical to believe.

I raise these points not to deliberately offend anyone or generate controversy. If I have I apologise and ask your forgiveness.

Instead I write this as a way of acknowledging and admiring the people who have a deep belief in their Christian faith. It is something as a lapsed catholic that I do not share. The spectre of the church as an institution and the foul, deceptive and disgusting behaviour of it’s leaders have seen to that.

Easter means many things to many people. For some it is about the resurrection of Jesus and all that it entails. For others it’s simply a break from work. A four day weekend with chocolate and the time to spend with family. A chance to recharge.

Whatever it is for you and your’s – Happy Easter.