I think that childhood should be one of the most splendid periods in a person’s life. This is a time when the world is first being experienced in all its beauty, and a time when one starts to distinguish themselves from their surroundings. Even though both these important points are still preserved in the modern world, times are changing rapidly, and the world places its own demands, sometimes offering possibilities, and sometimes only restrictions. One relatively old form of entertainment which plays an important role in childhood is cartoons.
The Impact of Disney on Young Girls
Basically, there are different types of them designed for different ages and genders, and I want to discuss one specific relationship: Disney princesses (who are the female protagonists of many Disney cartoons) and young girls (who make up the largest part of consumers of such a media). To my mind, the impact which is imposed on young girls by the princesses includes both positive and negative parts and is hard to unambiguously determine which is the main factor. Anyway, let us cover the topic a bit further.
Negative Influence of Disney Princess on Young Girls
Firstly, it is important to cover the negative influence of Disney cartoons. Basically, the common feature of all these princesses is their exceptional beauty, which naturally leads to a girl’s desire to look as similar to them as possible. This in turn can cause girls to suffer physically (in order to be thinner, for instance), and the benefits obtained because of such a beauty can become the main method for solving problems. Similar points are mentioned in an article by Rebecca Hains from the Washington Post.
Positive Aspects of Disney Princesses: Belle from Beauty and the Beast
Secondly, regarding the positive effects, there are two points here I want to mention. One should not overestimate the impact of what has been previously stated. Yes, Disney princesses are beautiful and sometimes this is the only thing which highly influences young girls, being the surface quality, but at the same time some of them are very clever and naturally free-thinking, such as Belle (whom I myself admire a lot, not being a girl) from Beauty and the Beast. She is a truly great example for a young girl: clever, beautiful, frank, erudite, and also capable of true love. And the movie itself provides a strong thesis against the beauty-over-everything concept! Another interesting aspect is that to understand the impact of any entity one should look not only inside that entity, but also think about its alternatives and compare them. In our case there is much more primitive and harmful media content than relatively romantic Disney princesses, so they can appear as a better alternative. To add to the point, Ghilzai et al. mention that getting used to aggression is one of the problems faced by children watching cartoons, and Disney princess characters in this case are relatively kind and non-aggressive (“Impact of Cartoon Programs”).
While there are some disadvantages imposed by Disney princesses on young girls, there are also advantages. The disadvantages are the orientation of appearance and repeating learned behavior, including physical suffering when required. The advantages, however, deal with intellectual values and the capability of true love, and also having a relatively good influence in comparison with other available cartoons. I would say that the situation cannot be drawn in simply black or white colors and is thereby more complicated than having purely positive or negative effects.
Ghilzai, Shazia Akbar, et al. “(PDF) Impact of Cartoon Programs on Children’s Language and Behavior.” ResearchGate, ResearchGate, Jan. 2017, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323523698_Impact_of_Cartoon_Programs_on_Children’s_Language_and_Behavior.
Hains, Rebecca. “Why Disney Princesses and ‘Princess Culture’ Are Bad for Girls.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 June 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/24/princess-culture-is-bad-for-girls-now-theres-proof/.
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