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How Does the Disney Princess Influence Affect Your Child’s Self Esteem?

So we have a daughter, she’s 2.5 yrs old.  We both think the world of her and want her to grow up happy and fulfilled.  Additionally, my focus is for her to grow up polite, kind, courteous.

Dad’s Take on Princess Stories

My husband’s focus is something completely different.  He wants her to grow up “tough and strong”, tomboyish, and he treats her as he would a son.  He play-fights with her, allows her to kick him, punch him.  He has bought her a sword and loves showing her karate/kung-fu movies (yes, at 2.5 yrs. old).  Needless to say, he hates the girly stuff she is into.  He gets that she’s a girl, and that she’s interested in those other girly things, but one thing he hates is all the “princessy stuff”. He is selective with his princess inclusion, only Mulan so far has gotten through his strict radar.

Why is he not down with the princess stuff? Basically, he doesn’t believe in the message of most princess movies/stories, where most princesses need to be “saved” by a prince, where most princesses don’t feel complete without a prince, and most of them are, let’s say a certain prototype.  We’ve actually had to give up a bunch of Disney Princess books we’ve received as gifts because of his princess ban.

Mom’s Take on Princess Stories

I grew up on Disney films, and I happened to love them.  And I happen to think that I’ve grown up “tough and strong”, so for a while, my hubs and I aren’t seeing eye to eye on the princess ban.  However, I cracked open a Special Edition Beauty and the Beast one afternoon, and this line struck me in particular.  Gaston, one of the guys pursuing Belle says:

she’s the prettiest and therefore she’s the best.”

I was starting to get his point after all.

Could Dad Have a Point?

I decided to research whether there was any information regarding the subject of all those princess and Disney influences being negative on little girls, and I found one article by Newsweek, entitled Do Disney Princesses Make Young Girls Obsessed With Thinness?.

Play Research Study

The study outlined had 121 girls aged 3-6 yrs old watch 14 minutes of different things; half of the young girls watched Disney films, and half watched clips of Dora, Clifford, Dragon Tales.  After the clips, the girls were given 15 minutes to play in a playroom, and “appearance-related” activities such as playing with in front of a mirror were recorded.  They were also asked to pick out who they thought were princesses from pictures of different girls in varying sizes and costumes.  Last, they were interviewed about body-types and their preferences.

Play Study Results

There were no significant statistical difference between the girls who watched the Disney films, and those who watched the other, more educational shows.

Watching Anastasia and Cinderella and Belle didn’t make them play longer at the vanity or try on more dresses afterward. It didn’t make them more likely to pick the thinnest figure as the “Real Princess.” It didn’t exacerbate their desire to be thinner.

Though they had no conclusive evidence, the researchers postulated that the children who did worry about their weight made statements pointing to their mothers’ own dissatisfaction with their weight and body type.

Which brings me back full circle to my disagreement with my husband, and my point from the beginning: my daughter’s biggest influence at this age about her self-perception will be me and her father, not princesses in Disney films and storybooks.  On one level, that is a lot of responsibility and it makes me a bit anxious; on another, more important level, I’m glad that I and my husband will have the  bigger  hand in molding her character and personality.  The princesses, if she likes them (and she is so adorable as one so why not?) are okay with me.

What do you think?

11 Responses to “How Does the Disney Princess Influence Affect Your Child’s Self Esteem?”


  1. It Is Our World After All- Elana Sable | targetyouths
  2. Media Economics « Tiffany's Blog
  3. Bathing in Disney…and Coming out Squeeky Clean « Dkobil1's Blog
  4. Disney Princesses and Mean Girls | Millennials Blog

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