Growing up in the early 2000’s offered entirely different narratives in Disney movies to what they are offering today. The gorgeous princess, with unparalleled beauty, a castle and a man chasing her endlessly. Unfortunately, as a child I grew up thinking this was fact. I too would one day be stunning and have a prince who could do no wrong. I’ve found the truth is somewhat different… Which begs me to ask the question, did Disney influence a generation of people to actively participate in patriarchal roles?
Hold on a sec. We all love Disney, I do even at the age of 22 and will continue to. However, I can’t help but question the false hopes Disney gave me as a young girl, influencing my aspirations for love and for personal success. Every princess had a set of trials and tribulations which she had to overcome, which undoubtably demonstrates her power. However, the end goal usually ended in some lad running in on a horse, euthanising her influential independence. Except for Mulan! That’s not me saying that I don’t enjoy a good love story, but to what extent did this false pretence of love influence how we treat love today? I still sit and wait for that guy to come and treat me like a Disney princess. But this kind of love isn’t realistic. Disney doesn’t portray the difficulties of relationships, the hardship, the trials, the toughs. It recognises only the peak. Whilst this could be deemed appropriate for children, it gives them a false sense of what love should be. Has this influenced our generation to give up at the first hurdle? There will be many factors which influences our behaviour towards love and relationships, this isn’t me pinning all theories on Disney. But I ask you, to what extent has Disney blurred the truth of love and ultimately bled toxicity into your understanding of a healthy relationship?
Not only this, but when I was growing up, the prince was always very macho and charming similar to a university rugby boy; and we all know they wouldn’t run in on a horse to save us. But what influence did that have on young boys? Toxic masculinity is one of the key agents to the success of the patriarchy. It causes such repression of emotion in men and ultimately sacrifices their mental health, but for what? For years I believe we were watching and consuming media that was branded as a love story, but in fact slotted us into our rightful places in the patriarchy.
Furthermore, in every story, the princesses overcame challenges to get to her prince. Ironically, the challenges normally were an evil stepmother or a woman beyond the age of 30… Did this have influence on how we treat other girls now? It is common for girls to compare themselves and it’s not unknown for girls to be unkind to other girls, especially when a guy is involved. Disney depicted a superior woman (the princess), eradicating the ‘other woman’ (villain). But what if this narrative translated into our real lives, whereby we see other woman as challenges, difficulties, hinderances for our ultimate happiness rather than future friends? Also, has this altered the way we perceive age in woman? Could it have villainized ages whereby once we pass the age of 30, we are ‘out of date’, irrelevant, to be removed. Since I can remember, I’ve been encouraged to belittle and compare myself other women and prohibit any signs of aging, but for what purpose?
I questioned this in my first year of university, where I had my first real ‘catty’ encounter. I felt deflated, irrelevant and anxious and she felt the same way. We both pretended that we didn’t care, for too long. But I swallowed my pride and apologised. To this day, I am reluctant to compare myself to other girls. Instead, I appreciate what they have and let them know. How nice does it feel when someone compliments you? Just because someone else has something I admire, doesn’t then mean I become irrelevant. How you judge people will be how you believe others judge you, creating endless insecurities; it’s not worth it!Influence each other, inspire people to be more creative and kind. I believe in speaking kindness as much as I can and not giving into being nasty. Every time I experience people speaking nonsense, it reaffirms that challenging behaviour like this, is important
Speak kind, be kind, know kind.