I wish I could say that I’m seeking a deep, intellectual truth with the rant I’m about to go on. I wish I was calling out something problematic or something that plays a disturbing role in our society. But no. I’m just here to be petty, because this has driven me up the wall for years. Here it goes: This collective Disney princess obsession is bizarre, and I don’t see its appeal whatsoever.
This has been on my mind for a while, especially at the height of Disney princess reimaginings that sites like Buzzfeed popularized a couple years ago. Disney princesses, but hipsters! Disney princesses, but plus sized! Disney princesses, but actual people living in this cruel, dark, unforgiving hellhole called life! Disney princesses, but hot dogs! Yes…really:
I thought that this trend died down, and for the most part it has! But my disdain was reawakened when I saw an artist’s Disney princesses reimagined on the Met Gala 2017 red carpet featured on Teen Vogue.
No hate to the artist himself; he is obviously good at manipulating photos, and with nearly 130,000 followers, he has an audience who is eager to see their favorite Disney princess’ (or villain’s) face plopped onto Kendall Jenner’s body! Hey, a few of them even had me dying of laughter (especially this one and this one). But…guys…I don’t…understand…people’s–the internet’s–continued investment in portraying Disney princesses as anything other than Disney princesses.
Don’t get me wrong, I was growing up during the so-called Disney Renaissance. I allegedly regularly cried at the end of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast was my jam, I owned a Pocahontas Barbie with hair that revealed dope purple and blue highlights whenever it got wet, and I will still watch Mulan with as much–if not more–enthusiasm as I did when I saw it in theaters in 1998. I understand enjoying Disney princesses as a kid, I understand the appeal of seeing a Disney princess movie even when you’re beyond the age range of the targeted demographic. I love animation and as somebody who still considers themselves a Harry Potter fan in the year of our lord 2017, I’m the last person who would sneer at someone’s interests as being too childish.
Still, it’s one thing to enjoy Frozen or Brave. It’s another to be obsessed with seeing them reimagined as new entities. I’ve seen commentary claiming that this kind of stuff is cool because they often challenge the expectations associated with a Disney princess. One may claim that seeing Disney princesses as plus size is empowering because it defies the beauty standards that their original forms upheld. Seeing Jasmine as a fighter in a war zone in the Middle East or Belle as a plastic surgery junky puts a spin on characters who had picture perfect endings. I get it, but at the end of the day, there’s one question that remains: Is it really that deep?
If that sounds snarky, well, sorry, but I’m really trying to be sincere here. Does the average Millennial or Gen Zer look up to Disney Princesses so profoundly beyond the age of, say, nine-years-old, that they actually provide a template for how to live their lives?
I ask this especially of well meaning Disney princess reimaginings that have social justice leanings. Menstruation is something that shouldn’t be shameful, yes, but using Disney princesses to drive the point home? I’m not sure how affective that is unless there’s an entire population of menstruating people who look to Disney princesses as a symbol of ideal womanhood. Uh, who…is doing that?
I understand the power of images, it’s why I’m all for Disney princesses who represent different races, come in different sizes, aren’t necessarily thirsty for their prince, etc. But there are so many media influences that influence us–our beauty standards, gender roles, etc–that it would be hard to realistically pinpoint Disney princesses as some sort of major catalyst.
This post might not make it obvious, but I do have a sense of humor. I understand that a lot of these Disney princess revamps are done for fun. There’s nothing wrong with that, but FFS, where does it end?It was cute at first. Hell, some reimaginings are still cute. But it’s so oversaturated and infused with so much fake deep nonsense that it’s a little hard to enjoy. You know how we’re slowly getting tired of this unicorn trend? Unicorn bagels, unicorn fraps at Starbucks, unicorn toast, unicorn hair… It’s like that, but with a new Disney princess revamp every other week. LOL, enough already! Can we just cool it with the reimaginings in general for a while? We’ve seen enough Disney princess reimaginings to last a lifetime and then some. Let’s collectively decide to give it a rest before someone reimagines Disney princesses as unicorn bagels.
I’m surprised we haven’t seen Disney Princesses reimagined as your favorite communist leaders as Instagram badies or something.
I mean, it might already exist, but I don’t dare Google it. We live in a universe where someone (jokingly, I’m sure) reimagined Disney princesses if they were tried for war crimes, so anything is possible. But if you are going to reimagine Snow White as Stalin wearing Fashion Nova, at least own up to it being for fun, not because as children we grow up watching Disney princesses but never actually know their political ideology, which makes little girls believe that politics don’t matter. Enough with these condescending reaches about how deeply young women were impacted by a 90 minute Disney movie to justify the fact that you made some fan art.
What do you think of Disney princesses? Do you think people are too obsessed, or am I overreacting? Tell us in the comments!