Today in things everyone’s been saying for fifty years:
A study was published this week which concluded that extended exposure to Disney princesses and the surrounding culture is detrimental to children’s health, confidence, and ability to function in society.
Lots of engagement with princess culture (whether through movies or toys) can lead to gender-stereotypical behavior as well as self-critical body image.
The strict gender stereotypes can become problematic, Coyne observes, if they hold girls back. “We know that girls who strongly adhere to female gender stereotypes feel like they can’t do some things,” Coyne said. “They’re not as confident that they can do well in math and science. They don’t like getting dirty, so they’re less likely to try and experiment with things.”
The researchers found that 96 percent of girls and 87 percent of boys had viewed Disney princess media. Meanwhile, more than 61 percent of girls played with princess toys at least once a week, while only 4 percent of boys did the same.
“Disney princesses represent some of the first examples of exposure to the thin ideal,” Coyne said, echoing the many princess and Barbie critics who have come before her. “As women, we get it our whole lives, and it really does start at the Disney princess level, at age 3 and 4.” (In a recent devotional address at Brigham Young, Coyne even went so far as to dub women’s low self-esteem regarding their bodies as “one of Satan’s greatest weapons.”)
Coyne’s findings join a long line of similar warnings, declarations, and theories, most notably Peggy Orenstein’s groundbreaking 2011 book, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” which chillingly laid out the dark side of Disney princesses, American Girl Dolls, and other commercialized girl cultures. Follow-ups included Jennifer Hartstein’s Princess Recovery and Rebecca Hains’s The Princess Problem. Recent actions, including a 2013petition drive objecting to Disney’s sexy redesign of Princess Merida of Brave, in preparation for her official induction in the Disney Princess Collection, informed Coyne’s research.