In W131 a few days ago we were talking about Cinderella. No, it wasn’t a digression, the unit we’re studying has to do with fairy tales and their cultural significance. We have read articles about the rise of Cinderella stories and their prevalence across cultures, as well as the stereotypes they perpetuate or reflect in our culture.
The topic of discussion was Disney’s “redesigned” princesses. We examined pre and post redesign princesses and noted the difference. As you may notice yourself upon clicking on the above link, the new princesses are significantly sparklier, their waists are slimmer and their clothes are more revealing.
Before I begin let me point out that there is nothing inherently wrong with these princesses. Girls should know that they are free to wear whatever they choose, sparkly and short or otherwise. However the issue I see with this redesign is one question: Why did we need it?
Why is it necessary to mold princesses to the slim, sparkly standards of current beauty? Shouldn’t we be redesigning their stories to reflect the new ideal of the smart, confident woman who can choose her own destiny and doesn’t need a prince to save her or make her ending happy?
We went on to discuss a series by artist David Trumble, who set out to point out the flaws in Disney’s redesign by drawing noteworthy women like Harriet Tubman, Anne Frank and Hillary Clinton in the sparkly style of Disney. His goal was to point out the tragedy of reducing a strong and influential woman into a ball-gowned beauty.
“I wanted to analyze how unnecessary it is to collapse a heroine into one specific mold, to give them all the same sparkly fashion, the same tiny figures, and the same homogenized plastic smile,” Trumble said in an article for womenyoushouldknow.net.
I agree, and furthermore who says heroines have to be beautiful? To me, the character and actions of a significant woman are endlessly more important than her face or her figure.
I think we get lost in our standards of beauty. Sure, it’s fun for many to put on makeup and dress in the latest fashions, and power to them if that makes them happy. But it shouldn’t be glorified as the only standard for women. Girls don’t have to fit society’s mold of pretty, in fact they don’t have to fit any mold of pretty to be respected or admired.
I would wish upon a star, but I’ve learned that in the real world changing society’s ideals for women takes more than that.