Happily Never After

By Marley Z.

And they lived happily ever after. But what is “happily ever after”? Through Disney princess movies, little girls grow up watching and learning about princesses and their quest to live happily ever after. These movies present an idealized and romanticized view that established love as the key to happily ever after. The dream of happily ever after through love is, to many little girls, not only realistic but easily attainable. So why is it that so many young girls are heavily influenced by the iconic Disney royalty? This essay will use culture and personality theory as well as feminist theory to discuss the misrepresentation of love in Disney princess movies and the effect that this has on young girls’ and their ideas of true love.

Why are young girls obsessed with romantic notions of happily ever after? A culture and personality theorist would suggest that the cultural significance of Disney gives it the power to influence what is ‘normal’ in society. Therefore, Disney princess culture influences young girls’ ideas of a ‘normal’ romance. The classic representation of romance in Disney movies plays out as follows: Damsel in distress meets boy who saves girl (generally in the form of a daring rescue), girl falls for guy, guy and girl get married, and they live happily ever after, the end. The notion of happily ever after through love is depicted throughout Disney princess movies and when young girls are exposed to this notion over and over again it becomes normalized for them. A standard personality characteristic of little girls then becomes one who idealizes love and romance and believes it to be the perfect solution to life’s problems.

So, the question then becomes, why is this view of love so harmful? A feminist anthropologist would propose that the depiction of Disney princesses in love skews young girls’ views of power in a relationship and leads them to believe they are inferior. A key aspect of romance in even contemporary, and supposedly modern, Disney princess movies is the understanding that a girl needs to be rescued, and that this action is reciprocated through feelings of love. This depiction leads to a normalized unequal balance of power in relationships centered on the idea that men are in power. This idea is then carried over in practice and many relationships are skewed against women. Despite the common cultural misrepresentation of love, it is important to understand that culture is never stagnant. It is always shifting and changing to adapt to society and the individual. Therefore, the cultural stance of girls in relation to romance perpetuated by cultural influencers, such as Disney princess movies, is able to shift towards a more progressive view.

By creating Disney princesses that exhibit strong and independent attitudes about love, culture can influence little girls’ ideas about new ways of romance and relationships, hopefully normalizing an equal balance of power in romantic relationships and downplaying their significance in happily ever after.

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54 Responses to Happily Never After

  1. Avery Tudor says:

    Very intriguing ideas…I agree in that disney movies represent female leads as inferior or they have in the past…yet more recent productions have depicted the women as the saviors in a way. For example, Tangled begins with the idea that the prince charming will rescue the princess but later on he is the one who goes through struggles and needs saving from her. Gender norms are beginning to change in society, so I think it would have been interesting to analyze the changes in gender expectations within these movies from the first production of disney movies to present day productions. But overall great job on nailing down the points of view!

    • kristin shapero says:

      Really well-written essay. I really liked how you were able to compare the Disney Princesses to an anthropological view along with more about the “Happy Ever After Ending”. As someone who was born in 2000, I grew up watching and loving all the Disney Princess movies. It was never until I got older and realized that the things they showed in those movies are very unrealistic to happen in real life… The movies do show a huge pressure on women to fall in love and perceive it in a way that makes it seem like you need love to survive in life, which isn’t true and especially now that society is evolving and changing it will be interesting to see if Disney does the same.

  2. Natalie Baldin says:

    A very interesting read and very relatable to what is happening in Disney films today! I think that the “Happily Ever After” ideal used to be a very strongly rooted in us, especially those from our parents generation and some of ours too, but now it seems Disney movies are taking the hint from Feminist Anthropology and changing things up. Frozen is about the bond between two sisters and Brave is the story of a princess who decides her “fate” or destiny in life while reconnecting with her mother. These movies are great and it’s defiantly just a small step, but it’s important to be aware that change is happening. Your essay does a good job of bringing up the ideals that need to be changed and pointing out all the ways of what we used to view as kids wrong. How do you think men respond to the “Happily Ever After” ideal? Would you agree that Disney is taking a turn towards better? Or is there still more work to be done?

  3. Brook Welsh says:

    I think you made a strong connection to the idea of “happily ever after” and how a feminist anthropologist would agree that is harmful for young girls. Many feminists praised the movie Frozen when it came out in 2013 because the original love interest turned out to be the villain. Frozen was a major shift for Disney in the way they talk about women. The main characters were a strong representation of feminism because they did not rely on a man to save them

  4. Ashley Guillotte says:

    I thought this essay was excellent! I think it is so true that we, as women, have grown up with this romanticized view of love. I also think it is really neat how you tie in cultural and personality and feminist anthropology. I think as ideas such as this one become more popular, the more things will change. I have a 5 year old sister so I think it is even different for her than it was for me growing up and what characters are being portrayed but there is still a long way to go for the typical “happily ever after” to look different.

  5. Jill Wetzel says:

    I really love this essay! I wrote a similar one in high school that reflected on changing gender ideologies for women through each era of Disney movies. I’ve definitely found myself romanticizing these notions as a child after watching Disney movies. I think it’s really interesting to see how these ideas can be seen changing through the new releases. For example, Sleeping Beauty/Aurora (from 1959) perfectly fits the damsel in distress rescued by a dashing prince trope that you described, but now some of the newer films are breaking these stereotypes by portraying princesses with no love interests at all (Moana, Merida from Brave, etc). Following culture and personality theory, I wonder how the next generation of girls will have different attitudes about love, and (following feminist anthropology) gender roles expected. Hopefully the next generation will appreciate the cultural ideals that produced the early movies, but learn from the more modern movies and embody the ideals they portray – being self reliant, not needing a prince, and making their own happily ever after.

  6. Sneha Varanasi says:

    I appreciate this essay – Disney princesses and the notion of “happily ever after” didn’t so much affect me as a kid than it did as I got older. It’s almost as if finding love and getting “rescued” is every girl’s destiny and it was often discouraging to realize that that wasn’t always the case. It makes girls rely on the concept of love that Disney movies portray as a life purpose, almost, in that every one of us would find love in some way or the other or we haven’t lived our lives to the fullest. What a lot of people don’t realize, as you said, is that a lot of relationships are based on hierarchies and relationships of power that we may not be aware of. But the fact that is so normalized in society is why it’s so harmful.

    • Ava Ogaz says:

      I think that because of this portrayal of princess movies, girls grow up thinking that being rescued is the way it has to be. Girls fantasize about being swept off their feet by a knight in shining armor, although that may not always be the case. Heterosexual relationships are seen as men courting, having and then taking care of their woman, whether that be picking up the bill or working to support the family. But instead of interpreting feminists as man-hating female population, we should realize that women equality should be represented in all relationships and that Disney should really rewrite their happily ever afters.

  7. Gracey Thompson says:

    this was such a cool essay. I love learning about the Disney princess movies! my sister took a class on Disney movies and learned about a lot of different ideas these movies put into your head as a child that you don’t notice until it is pointed out. One of these ideas is that women always need saving, like in beauty and the beast.

  8. Eric Bulow says:

    I enjoyed your essay and really thought the use of feminist anthropology was well informed. Showing how a feminist may find the Disney Princess theme harmful and showing how it can make girls seem weak was good analysis. However, I think there is an argument to be made that the Disney princess movies show what is “normalized” because of the intended audience. While this notion from your cultural and personality theorist is accurate in that the movie may make something normal, it is difficult to make a movie for kids and little girls that shows anything other than a hopeful romantic story.

  9. Nicholas Cobb says:

    This was a very interesting essay to read due to the topic at hand as well as writing strategies. I like how you started off with a great attention grabber that feeds into the topic at hand very well. The use of Disney media to explain progressive culture is very well done. By using this idea, you made clear that society values certain forms of love and how girls interpret it nowadays. It would be interesting to see how a future generation interprets love by using culture and personality theory as well as feminist anthropology. The depiction of cultures having the ability to change through social norms brings the essay together in my opinion. Your closing sentence provides great insight into how this gendered norm can be solved and how society should be organized regrading this trend in love.

  10. Jenna Jenkins says:

    I agree with a majority of the comments above in saying that in the past Disney movies have definitely painted an unrealistic picture for young children as if love was the only thing to live for, at least for women. But as things around us are changing, the movies are changing with it. Newer movies are beginning to show women overcoming hardships and living their lives without needing a significant other in order to make them happy.

  11. Maxime Brandt says:

    I really enjoyed your essay. As I aged and re-watched the Disney films I had enjoyed as a kid I was shocked by how many followed the classic form you described. I was also shocked by when re-watching the movie, many of the woman around me would act jealous, saying things like, “oh I wish I could have a prince like that!” I think that Disney is moving in the right direction with movies like Frozen and Moana. I hope that by shifting their focus away from the “male rescuing female” plot line can shift our culture away from thinking that is the ideal romance.

  12. Julia Giltner says:

    I really enjoyed reading your essay and I think that this norm about gender roles in American society is a hot topic for our generation to say the least. To add on to what some of the other comments were saying, the movie Frozen and Tangled do not fit the classic “girl gets saved by guy and they fall in love” which makes me hopeful for the younger generation of girls. I believe that they will be raised with a healthier idea of what love is aside from always looking for a guy to save or rescue their lives. I can confidently say that I have held the “Disney princess” idea in my head for a long time and I appreciate how Disney is now shifting their movies to more realistic ideas of love in their new princess movies. Overall, great job!

  13. Anna Kauffman says:

    Yes! This issue is so important. Little kids don’t even realize it when they’re watching these movies but it is so easy to process the storylines in a way that affects your definition of what love is and what a happy ending consists of. You’re absolutely right, culture is not stagnant. We are starting to see more and more kids movies like Brave and Moana that don’t include love stories as the main plot or even at all. It is encouraging to know that our society is beginning to teach young girls that a happy ending doesn’t require a man.

  14. Megan Goldin says:

    I never thought about how just due to the sheer popularity and dominance of Disney in our society girls have these particular ideas of romance in their minds. I don’t often view Disney as one of those forces that dominates and guides our society, but your explanation of this phenomenon brings to light this issue and how this cooperation actually molds a large part of our population. I also completely agree with the fact that we, as a society, need to keep in mind that changes should be made to these tales and we should hold big media outlets, like Disney, responsible for the messages they are sending to their audiences.

  15. Ava Ogaz says:

    This topic of a “happily ever after,” really puts gender inequality into perspective. As soon as I read it was about Disney princess movies, I knew it would have to be related to Feminist Anthropology. Girls and boys alike, grow up watching and fantasizing this “perfect” rescue of a princess, however, it is ingrained that men have the power in a relationship. I believe that this essay interpreted both types of anthropology well and related it to Disney fairytales in an appropriate manner.

  16. Aryana Goodarzi says:

    I like how you talk about this through Disney princesses! Your summary of the happily ever after dream in Disney was perfect too! I also like how you talked about culture not being static, because there has been a lot of call to this lately for Disney to package their princesses as powerful, where the dream of happily ever after is not to say they have to have a guy, but rather that a dashing prince could come but separate from that, they are still powerful. There’s a class here at CU Boulder called “Disney’s Women and Girls” which is basically your paper just in a class.

  17. Megan Webb says:

    This was extremely interesting to read especially because of the way that you used the culture and personality theory and the feminist theory. Disney, while its loved by a lot of people, as also put this image of the perfect life in little girls minds that just doesn’t depict actual real life situations. You really put the Disney Princesses to the test and proved that most of them, especially the first handful of princess movies, do not help little girls become more confident in themselves, it makes them feel as though they are not good enough until they have a bug strong man to “save” them.

  18. Claire O'grady says:

    I love this essay- I like how you wrote and explained through anthropological ideas something that I think almost everyone grew up watching. I think that, although Disney movies can teach a lot of good lessons, there is definitely always that underlying tone that almost all the women are dependent on men in the movie especially when it comes to love. I agree with your description of how a personality theorist would view princess movies. To your point about how culture is always shifting, I’m curious to see if Disney will create more and new independent women characters to reflect our changing societal norms.

  19. Glenn Jones says:

    I found this to be an interesting and well thought-out essay. Disney movies definitely play a role in continuing gender stereotypes, but it’s something that a lot of people accept as normal and don’t spend much time thinking about (honestly, I didn’t really until reading this article). Movies such as Sleeping Beauty definitely promote the “knight in shining armor rescues damsel in distress” mold. However, I think a movie like Mulan, where a woman (and men dressed as women) ultimately save the day might have been an early example of Disney challenging gender stereotypes. I’m not too familiar with recent Disney movies, and I’d be curious to see what percentage of them have a “damsel in distress” vs. a more feminist story line. I wonder if more feminist-oriented Disney movies will change young boys’ views of gender behavior, as well?

  20. Chris Shaw says:

    This is a very well written essay! I really enjoyed how you tied this assignment into a topic that we are all familiar with: Disney movies. I connected to the cultural and personality theorists by noticing all Disney love movies having the same plot and same ending: rescue to happily ever after. This can cause a type of social conditioning for the youth by telling them if you do something heroic for another, then you will never have issues/ conflicts with that person ever again. Persuading the younger generation to do good, but get too attached to one person that may hurt you: which is uncharted territory for kids because this part isn’t in the movies.

  21. Emily Aseff says:

    I love your take on the fairytale ending! It is really interesting watching the cultural shift from fairytale stories ending in love to stories focusing on different forms of love like family. Disney does represent some dangerous relationships that little girls (typically) look up to and aim for in life. Having experience babysitting little girls and hoping to teach them there is more to life than love and marriage this hit home! Thank you for taking on this subject

  22. Paolo Castellon says:

    Very interesting arguments you make, I like it. Your perspective in a fairy tell ending is very intriguing. I agree with your point of view because it does tell young girls watching these movies that this is the way your love life should go. As the men as the dominant figure, and as you as the women who needs a men to succeed or get out of your life situation. I think this is something toxic to promote to young girls. As when they see this at a young age they are conditioned that this is the norm. I think we should no promote this toxic imbalance of relationship statuses between woman and men.

  23. Than Ball says:

    I generally agree with the assertion that Disney princesses make girls grow up to feel their perogative is romance and love. “To find a man that will solve all their problems.” However I would counter that recent Disney is trying to change this cliche. Movies like Mulan and Frozen don’t revolve around girls/women unable to solve their own problems or resort to romance.

  24. Matthew Loughridge says:

    Very interesting point of view. It kinda disappointing once you think about it that today, young girls around the world are watching Disney movies and other such movies and are being conditioned to taking the ‘damsel in distress’ role without even knowing it. Although, one could argue that as society has progressed in a more inclusive direction, so has popular culture and today you don’t see nearly as harsh examples of hero and survivor. I wonder what a Feminist theory would say about the direction that movies like Brave, and Frozen are taking us in. It exciting to think that as a society were finally starting to transcend outdated ideals of gender roles and were seeing this progress reverberating down through the youth culture in todays world.

  25. Prateek Makhija says:

    This was a very well written essay. It really help us see a different perspective of Disney movies in a respectful manner. Most of us probably don’t realize the way that these movies are portrayed especially as a guy. The perspective of looking at the unnatural values help realize the issues that society portrays. I also feel that Disney movies are starting to move towards that direction. Disney started in the early 1900’s where society’s perspective was looked at differently especially towards woman. That was presented was the norm. I feel that Disney has started to adapt towards a more modern view set, with still with the same kind of core values, but more adapted within our society.

  26. Sky Rodriguez says:

    This essay makes me think of the movie Moana. After reading some of the comments, looks like frozen was also one of the first movies to portray a female who did not need a man to have her “happy ever after.” Because feminist anthropology is relatively new compared to all the other theories we have learned about, I find it very interesting that these movies are also relatively new. Could is possibly mean that people are actually listening to what we want? 🙂 . I also thought it was kind of funny how the happily ever after somehow implies that the couples in Disney movies will never have any disagreements or problems. This, I feel, creates the idea of giving up on your partner even if the relationship can be saved after issues arise.

  27. Kloe Lee says:

    Very well written essay. I really enjoyed how Disney princesses were tied to anthropological theories. I agree that classically Disney princesses have been depicted as the damsels in distress, waiting for their ‘one true love to come and save them.’ I find media like this troubling, as young children are so very impressionable. Instilling such ideas that a girl is just a pretty face waiting to be saved by her prince charming is extremely detrimental. However, recent Disney movies have tried to stray from this and show young girls that princesses can be strong and can save themselves, which is such an important lesson for young girls to learn. We can see this in movies such as Moana, Frozen, Brave, and Tangled.

  28. Mikayla Seaman says:

    I appreciate the analysis of love and relationships in this essay, the statement of how culture shapes relationships along with the “hierarchy” and social relations within them. I believe you have the right assessment, with changes within culture directly affect how love is perceived. People tend to replicate what they see, thus changes in the Disney princess model with effect how people go about and act within them.

  29. Jacob Icolari says:

    I actually love this view and way you disect the idea of love and relationships. The belief that culture is one of if not, the most important way relationships are developed. similar to one of my classmates said, I also got the sense that the idea of a pretty girl, almost in a sense unable to be strong was waiting for the man who would come off as a prince charming-ish type of human to come rescue her. Several of my classmates have also touched on the fact that it compares to more recent disney movies; and the idea that the princess is a strong woman whom’st doesn’t really need a man in her life to show her worth and what she is capable of. I found that tieing in your anthropological theories to the comparison of disney movies was an amazing idea, as well as you pointing out the fact that ” Why are girls obsessed with happily ever after. All in all a very well written essay, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  30. Anna Morelock says:

    I love this essay because this is something I have thought about a lot as well. After spending a couple days in Disneyland this spring break, I noticed that the Disney franchise is changing how they portray the old Disney movies to make the princesses seem more independent and strong. Disney realizes the negativity of the regressive themes the company used to teach, and now strives to project a better, more equal message to children. However, Disneyland has other bad themes and messages besides the sexism between princesses and princes. For example, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride attraction depicts a crazy car ride all the way to Hell where a massive animatronic Satan sits in flames. And the Pinocchio ride shows tobacco row and a smoke shop and drugs. I don’t know if these are the best messages to show to kids either, but Disney is tackling one problem at a time.

  31. Shaiyah Weissman says:

    I have never stopped to examine the effects on Disney movies on young girls in this way. I found this article extremely interesting and well written. I find it fascinating how such a simple idea of the “perfect” love story can play such a large role in creating and influencing culture. Girls not only then feel inferior in relationships because this has been repeated to them, but it makes it difficult for young girls to fully comprehend that relationships aren’t always a perfect love story with a happy ending. Looking at this through the perspectives you chose was also very interesting and it’s interesting to see how and anthropologist would examine this topic. Super interesting nice job!

  32. Ryan Schulze says:

    Overall, this essay was very well written. I liked the authors use of feminist anthropology within their essay and I specifically liked how they linked it Disney princesses. It was interesting to see how the culture surrounding Disney princesses influenced young girls and how it has shaped young womens minds to obsess over finding a “happy ever after”.

  33. Heidi Andringa says:

    This is a very interesting essay. Id never thought of the idea of happily ever after being a bad thing until I read this. I think that girls growing up watching princesses being saved by men over and over can send a bad message for when they grow up, but a culture and personality anthropologist would also have to examine the newer Disney princess movies like Frozen and Tangled. These princesses save themselves as well as others. Not only that, but they give off the message that kindness and love (not just romantic) can lead to a prosperous life. These messages are ones that young girls can grow up with. I agree that when girls only see princesses being saved, they will grow up believing that they are the ones who need to be saved, and that men are supposed to do the saving. The newer movies however have an idea that you create your own destiny. By growing up with these ideals instead, young girls grow up to believe that they can do whatever they set their minds to.

  34. Mei-Lin Moody says:

    Wow! I think this is a really interesting topic of happily ever after. I always thought happily ever after was sort of a fairy tale kind of thing, since I grew up with my parents divorced and never experienced seeing that kind of fairytale love in my household. I also agree with the feminist theory approach about how these Disney films can be harmful and mess with young girl’s mindset on what love should be. I see a lot of girls have this mindset about what love is supposed to be and sometimes it can be harmful. Men can’t always swoop in and save the dansel in distress. It’s not healthy to think you can rely on someone else to help save you. When you think about these films almost all of the Disney princess movies have a princess who is looking for and falls in love with their charming prince. Frozen a newer Disney princess film is the only film I can think of where the princess is content with being single and is not searching for a man to come save her.

  35. Jordan Cote-Long says:

    I really enjoyed reading your essay, it was written very well and was really enjoyable! I loved how you wrote about this aspect of modern society especially that this issue has been highlighted in the past few years and Disney has even been responding by trying to make more powerful women out of their movies. I also love how you brought in feminist anthology into your essay, its very relevant and a fitting theory to choose.

  36. Athen Hudson says:

    This essay is a great read and keeps the audience interested through the use of examples that are relevant to contemporary society. I like how you lay the foundation for your essay by simply describing the way females are depicted in almost every single Disney movie. We always hear our friends saying “why do I only date assholes?” and part of the reason ties into the movies we watch as children. These movies show that women have been, and always will, be reliant on men. This in turn, allows for men to treat women like we are expendable. It is honestly disappointing that even today, women are shown as needing to be saved or fixed by men. It would be so great to see Disney movies take a step forward toward the direction of empowering young women and, like your essay clearly mentions, showing an equal balance of power between men and women in romantic relationships.

  37. Issabella Turra says:

    This essay was very interesting and really caught my attention as someone who grew up idolizing the Disney princess movies. They did romanticize the idea of happily ever after and the idea that women had to be saved by men. I think for a lot of women our generation and older, it did greatly impacted the way we approach and view relationships. I think with the new way of Disney princesses being portrayed and not needing men to save them it will provide them with a much healthier understanding of what a relationship looks like and will give them a larger amount of self respect and independence, helping them realize they never need a man to save them. I thought your essay was extremely well written and you explained the concepts very clearly and concisely. after reading that essay I think it would be very interesting to read an essay that analyzes the new wave of Disney princesses and their new found independence from men.

  38. Sarah says:

    Your examination of Disney princesses as reinforcing a system in which young girls view the “key” to happily ever after is maintaining and establishing a love interest. It seems glaring now, but I did not recognize this until I read your paper and truly thought about the Disney princess movies I’ve seen. I like how you discuss the ‘classical representation of romance in Disney movies’ and how it has become normalized in a society. I would bring up the point that a lot of these representations of love and relationships were developed during periods where that was the normal, for example Cinderella. Newer Disney princess movies, for example Moana, focus of the individuality and independence of a strong young girl. I would argue that Disney is not necessarily reinforcing these ideals, as much as people are choosing to watch them because they are iconic, classic love tales.

  39. Logan Dowell says:

    I think this essay is very interesting. I think that Disney movies play into the traditional, misogynistic views that have been centered around relationships in the past. I believe that culture and religion also have an aspect to these roles as well. I believe that the traditional working father and caring mother are what stems from these movies where girls are baited into believing they are inferior. I believe as well that Disney may not forcibly implement these ideas into their movies, but rather doing so to reinforce their storyline as well as keeping with the traditional “princess” plot. The princess plot is what many watch Disney movies for so while they are reinforcing negative stereotypes as well as giving girls false narratives, I believe that they are not solely to blame for this issue. I believe that since they are so young, the false ideals of “true love” are not solely negative because the wisdom of actual true love comes with age and experience and teachings through parents and other influential figures.

  40. Mariah Goudy says:

    I really love this essay, especially the critique of Disney princess movies through Feminist theory. I am an aunt and I have two nieces and a nephew so whenever I spend time with them I end up watching so so so so many Disney movies. A favorite of my niece Charlotte is of course Frozen. In the millions of times that I have watched this movie (which came out in 2013, making it a more recent example) I have been able to notice the progress which has been made in these movies. When I was her age I watched Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella which are classic examples of the girl in need of rescue. Though Frozen still idealizes heteroromantic relationships there is visible progress in the idea of girl power. Hegemony is hard to change but I’m glad to see that change is noticeable.

  41. Brianna Shriner says:

    This was a very well written essay that engages the two theories greatly. I thought it was interesting that the author discusses Disney, especially through the feminist theory lens. Growing up I absolutely loved Disney princesses and used a lot of my childhood watching, dressing, and acting like them. However, when I watch the movies now I do see some issues. The original movies were very dependent on the men saving the princess and the girls being absolutely helpless. Now, the more recent movies I have seen from Disney they have started to make positive changes. I hope the young girls who are watching the new movies don’t feel like they are damsels in distress.

  42. lodpod says:

    I really enjoyed this essay because the theories presented give amazing insight into the “happily ever after” notion that disney has perpetuated in our society. Through the feminist perspective, I think it would also be influential to note the association of women with being victims. This association shows societal views around women and the notions that they are in danger or victims of danger up until a man comes to save them. The societal victimization of women and girls from such an early age leads to self victimization as the girl grows up. She then sees herself as someone to be saved, not someone who can save herself. This also relates to love because women are taught to believe that they need to be loved by a man in order to be saved and love themselves. Self love and self confidence are then shot down for girls at a young age, never learning that they can be self-satisfied and love themselves without the approval or affirmation of a man. I really liked that this essay included a solution to the issues surrounding Disney’s “Happily Ever After” ideal, by creating representation of confident and “independent” princesses to help change the degrading social norm.

  43. Cheyenne Smith says:

    Very interesting points on a topic that is very relevant. Little girls grow up to believe a “happily ever after” romance will just come seamlessly out of no where and be absolutely perfect. There is no doubt that these unrealistic expectations usually fail to come true – many of us have learned that the hard way. It would be interesting to explore the other ways disney princesses shape social norms because it seems they have been quite controversial over the years. Good job connecting all of the theories to your ideas, it made all the theories and points very easy to understand. I like your ideas of creating Disney princess stories around empowerment and individuality – I think it would be very beneficial for little girls growing up in the current and upcoming generations.

  44. Claire Kennedy says:

    I think your analysis on how disney princesses lead young girls to believe that they are inferior in relationships is spot on. Young girls grow up watching these disney movies where the lead female character has to be saved by a handsome, brave male. This leads girls to think that in romantic relationships, the man has more power than the woman. I agree with you that disney needs to create more portrayals of strong, independent women who are able to take care of themselves without a man in their lives.

  45. Rowen Lewis says:

    When I was growing up I remember completely immersing myself in Disney movies, especially princes movies. I loved them so much that i had a game that required the players to be a princess and wear a crown, marry a prince, pick out a castle, and the winner was the player who was able to attain all the makings of a princess the fastest. I remember being extremely distraught when the game “went missing”. My parents wanted me to grow to be independent of this Idealistic Princess day dream and recognize that I was a powerful individual who could take care of myself without a man protecting me.
    This essay thoroughly explains the the obsession I had with an unrealistic idea of romance and the idea that i needed to have love in order to be safe and feel normal with in my society. This essay uses the theories clearly in order to make something so complex relational.

  46. Ally Fitts says:

    I find this essay extremely fascinating and relevant. Growing up with brothers, I never developed an obsession for Disney princesses like my girl friends. However, when I considered love stories at a young age, they all ended in ‘happily ever after’. As depressing as it sounds, I think all of us girls can agree that as soon as we hit high school we realized the reality of relationships and love. Things do not always go as imagined, or how you want them to. Your description from a feminist anthropologist is the most realistic view on Disney’s perception on love; leading to girls feeling inferior. Young girls will continue to look up to Disney princesses, however I think it is important for Disney to acknowledge a progressive view, as their current themes are out of date and demonstrate unequal power within relationships.

  47. Anna Faigenbaum says:

    I really liked how you challenged the idea of perfect happiness, and “happily ever after” through different anthropological theories. So often disney movies are idealized to be perfect and happy, but as your essay shows, they portray a false reality for optimistic people that can become more harmful than good. It is also interesting how much of an impact disney has on society’s culture, and how something that is so not real, has impacted such real human beings. Even animated characters, such as sleeping beauty or snow white, have had a lasting impact on young children’s romanticized idea of love and happiness. I also think that your feminist theory analysis of the image disney princesses portray to young girls is important to focus on, and interesting to analyze in today’s changing society. It raises the idea of disney potentially “inventing” a new princess, who isn’t constantly depending on a prince to rescue her.

  48. Madison Flicker says:

    I loved the parallels you drew between representation of Disney princesses and the ideas young girls have. The false perception that women need a man to feel complete, and that its the only way to have a happily ever after. I thought your argument for a feminist anthropologist was spot on, and that representation of strong, independent women are essential into raising strong independent women. You can see that Disney moves with culture and changes as culture does. You compare a movie like Sleeping beauty, where a man had to save her to Frozen where the queen handles it all. Well done!

  49. Marina Rich says:

    I find this essay very interesting because I am a girl but particularly because I did not grow up watching princess Disney movies about “happily ever after” mostly because my parents didn’t allow me to watch movies or tv until a year into middle school. But then how is it that these notions of ” happily ever after” were still drilled into my brain? It makes me think that they must be so strong and ingrained into society that we are not able to escape our own societal expectations. It is like the chicken or the egg question. Did these movies come before the societal expectations or did the societal expectations create the inspiration for these movies? Very interesting essay.

  50. may seigel says:

    I have always had issues with the “damsel in distress” idea that is prominent in today’s media. Although often times these female characters go through some sort of transition, it is never without some assistance from the male “hero”. I think this stereotype is created in other aspects of cultures as well as in the media. For example, it is usually assumed that males fulfill the roles of the “heroes” in society, like firefighters and police men. I do think that in some ways, these ideas are changing as the cultural ideas of femininity are changing, but there is still work to do. Movies like Brave and Frozen depict strong female characters that don’t need the assistance of a man, but at the same time relationships between male and female characters are still an important part of the plot. I think your analysis of this issue through the theory feminist anthropology is great. I like how you pointed out that these depictions skew young girls perceptions of relationships and “happily ever afters” from a very young age and the fact that the only way to change this is by depicting strong, independent, female characters that don’t need a man to reach their “happily ever after”

  51. Divya S. says:

    Growing up, I had always imagined a happily ever after. But as I grew older, reality hit quickly and I realized that life is definitely not like the movies despite how much I rejected that idea as a child. I completely agree that this fantasy that is being portrayed can have a detrimental effect on young girls and their idea of love and worth in the relationship. I also agree with the comment above, who gives examples like Brave and Frozen, and another example could be Mulan, that has strong females as the lead, but relationships still continue to be an important part of the plot, something I never really took into account.

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