Are Disney Princesses Damaging Our Daughters?

  • June 23, 2016

This week I’ve read a couple of articles about a study claiming that Disney Princesses can hurt young girls’ self-esteem. Yes, that’s right, some highly educated people have been paid to research this.

According to the study “engaging with Disney princess culture could make young children more susceptible to gender stereotypes”. The full article is here if you want to read it.

Parents are basically being told that they should be worried by limiting stereotypes in Disney films, that may be harmful to young women later in life.

As a Disney fan and the mum of a Disney Princess-obsessed little girl all I can say is what a load of crap!

Little H has a wardrobe full of princess dresses, a box of princess dolls, and would watch Disney films all day long if she could. She’s been princess mad since we went to Disneyland Paris a couple of years ago and we are lucky enough to be going to Disney World next month. If you were to ask Little H what she’s most looking forward to she’d tell you “meeting Elsa and Rapunzel”. If we believed the experts I’d be really worried that we’re damaging our daughter’s mental health.

Are Disney Princesses Damaging Our Daughters? | copyright

Role Models

At 5 years old I think it’s fair to say that a little girl’s most important female role model would be their mummy. It’s the parent’s job to teach children about equality and avoid gender stereotyping. As a working mum, I’m pretty happy that I feel like a good enough role model for Little H to understand you don’t need to be a princess and live in a castle to be happy. In our family we don’t stereotype – sometimes Mummy cooks dinner and tidies up and sometimes Daddy does it. We certainly don’t make negative comments about women, my husband would be sleeping in the shed if he did! We’re all about the girl power in our house, I don’t think that playing at princesses is going to change her views.

I played with Barbies when I was little and loved Cinderella – this didn’t make me want to get a boob job and marry a prince so that I didn’t have to go to work. The reason I didn’t aspire to be like that is because my parents encouraged me to be whatever I wanted and instilled in me that you need to work hard if you want something. The same values that we’re teaching Little H.

The article I mentioned above also states that “research has shown that some Disney Princess films feature male characters speaking more often than women, which raises additional questions about the example these princesses set for girls’ independence and confidence”.

If your child’s independence and confidence is weak enough to be harmed by cartoons then I think you possibly need to look a little bit closer to home for the cause of the problems.

Is my child damaged by Disney?

After reading these articles I asked Little H a few questions, just to make sure. Remember she’s a Disney Princess-obsessed 5 year old, so exactly the kind of child that these ‘experts’ are worried about…

Q: Why do you love Disney Princesses?

A: They get to do cool stuff.

Q: Who’s your favourite Princess and why?

A: Elsa because she can freeze things and Ariel because she has a mermaid tail.

Q: Would you like to marry a prince?

N: No I’m not getting married. Except maybe to Daddy.

Q: What can boys do that girls can’t?

A: Nothing. Boys can do boy’s stuff or girl’s stuff. Girls can do girl’s stuff or boy’s stuff.

Q. Is there anything that you want to do but can’t?

A: A cart-wheel

Q: Is that because you’re a girl?

A: No it’s because I need to practice it some more.

Q: Can you think of a job that a boy could do but a girl couldn’t?

A: No everyone can do whatever they want.

Q: What do you want to be when you are grown up?

A: A police officer.

I rest my case.

No mention of dresses, looks, marrying a prince, or girls not being able to do things. Oh, and by the way, she currently wants to be a police officer because of Officer Judy Hops in Disney’s Zootropolis.

Girl Power

I agree that the older Disney films like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty don’t exactly have strong female characters, but I think some of the more recent Disney Princesses have bucket loads of girl power…

Are Disney Princesses Damaging Our Daughters? |

  • Elsa doesn’t need a man to help her rule her kingdom.
  • Anna is very feisty and will fight for her loved ones.
  • Rapunzel chases her dreams and can certainly stand up for herself.
  • Tiana isn’t afraid of hard work.
  • Belle is really clever and can see right through the popular guy.
  • Merida doesn’t want to get married and can fight her own battles.
  • Jasmine doesn’t need a prince to make her happy.

These things and the pretty dresses are what kids see – they don’t notice if the male characters speak more or how much the princesses weigh.

Let’s just let kids be kids, use their imaginations, and provide them with strong role models (of both sexes) at home.


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  • Lydia C. Lee

    I do think we over think this stuff, however I also wonder why Mulan isn’t ever paraded around (like in your photo) when she is clearly the most kick ass off all the Princesses….(so maybe there is a little something to it…)

  • themotherhub

    great replies from your daughter ! I think it’s good that Disney are making efforts to make their female characters a bit stronger ..if they could include one who didn’t have a waist the size of my arm that might help too ! #fortheloveofblog

  • Muslim Mummy

    Have to say I have never been into the Disney princesses…and only ever owned one Barbie…my girls seem to be taking after me and showing no interest in them. So don’t really know a huge amount about them. Having said that I did read a few stories when younger and can’t say I have been left damaged in any way!

  • Rebecca | AAUBlog

    I agree with you – I don’t think that they cause lots of damage! Plus, they aren’t real! All of this with Barbie too. i never wanted to look like Barbie did because I knew she was a toy! Not a real person lol

  • A mum track mind

    Ooh lucky you getting to go to Disney World! We went last year and it was just amazing. I tend to agree, I think it sounds a bit like somebody has too much time on their hands to be honest! Have a fantastic time! Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

  • The Mum Project

    I love this post so much, this may even be featured this next week at #StayClassyMama but don’t tell anyone … ; ) As I was reading I was thinking that there are more modern films now with more leading female characters, but then you got to this point at the end, SO I totally agree with you. And based on your interview with your daughter, this has not affected her one bit. I think it is the parents that are the role models, while Disney may not be helping the case for equal rights, I don’t really think they are hindering it completely. Thanks for this very interesting read and sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    • Sarah | Digital Motherhood

      Thanks for your lovely comment, glad you liked the post! Definitely up to the parents to make sure our kids grown up believing in the right things! 🙂

  • Kate Eccles

    I read the title and rolled my eyes, so glad you said “What a load of crap!” My thoughts entirely. My daughter wants to be a firefighter in the mornings and an author in the afternoons and of course a mummy. She is princess mad 🙂 #BrillBlogPosts

  • Nursery Whines

    I love this interview with your daughter. It is perfectly true you can grow up loving processes and not be boxed in by that. Gender neutral parenting is a good thing, but as soon as it becomes forced on a child it defeats it’s purpose. Let kids enjoy Disney. And adults for that matter… Ariel was my favourite princess, and she wanted to leave home and fend for herself. #StayClassyMama


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