In the early and mid 1900, Disney princesses were shown to be dependant and weak while their only super power was their beauty. All were bound by domestic house work and faced many difficulties in life. Almost all waited for their Prince Charming to suddenly come one day, fall in love with them and take them away to spend a beautiful life together. This unrealistic sense of beauty and love can be seen in movies Snow White, Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.
Snow White sets up a gender stereotype as the main character is seen in the house – cooking and cleaning for seven male dwarfs who are not very useful. She is also shown to be very dumb as she accepts a poisoned apple from a stranger and eats it. However, it was understood since the beginning that no matter what happens, a Prince Charming is destined to come and rescue the stupid yet amazingly attractive princess.
More or less the same scenario can be seen in Cinderella who is always seen cleaning the house and serving the family while bearing their rude behavior. Cinderella’s character is unrealistically close to perfect – she is obedient to her evil step sisters and step mother who never let her explore the world and follow her passion. She is treated like a servant but her prince comes and rescues her from her weird family. What this movie tells us is that if you are a girl and that too a beautiful one, you will find someone who will love you and let you live a healthy and rich life.
The Sleeping Beauty depicts the same theme. Prince Phillip falls in love with Aurora at first sight. This makes people believe in it. While it is true to some extent, most of the time it fails. It makes young girls think that it is the outer beauty that matters the most as no other thing about your personality has to be judged before a prince falls in love with you.
The theme, however, began to change slowly but it was still very related and close to the previous one. In movies like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, princesses were shown to have gained a bit more sense and self-confidence.
Ariel in The Little Mermaid is a confident mermaid who at least has the ability to get something if she wants it. However, she falls in love with a prince, human of course, and wants to marry him. To achieve her dream, she compromises on her voice to get human legs. While Ariel shows determination, a very wrong message is also given to young girls and that is you should give up your friends, family and even things like your voice for love.
The Beauty and The Beast, on the other hand, sets a very amazing and ethical example. Belle, the main character, is one who spends less time on make-up to make herself look very attractive. Instead she focuses more on reading books which is a very productive thing to do. She is also intelligent enough to not fall for looks but inner beauty is what she admires the most and that is why she ends up marrying a Beast with a very kind heart.