The Effects of Princess Culture


Do you know a little girl who dresses like a princess? What message could she be learning? Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid look at the effects of Disney’s Princess Culture.

Watch Video


Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3  

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful land. In this land there was a large, royal castle. In the castle lived a beautiful princess. She had long golden hair. Her clothes were rich and beautiful...”

Voice 1  

Does this story sound familiar to you? There are many stories like this about princesses. Maybe you have heard of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty? How about Beauty and the Beast? The Little Mermaid? Have you heard of Mulan or Moana? These are all female characters in stories and films. They are all called princesses.

Voice 2  

In real life, a princess is the daughter of a king and queen. Some women become princesses when they marry a prince. There have been many real princesses throughout world history. But what many people think of when they hear the word “princess” does not come from real life. It comes from stories and films about princesses. Today’s Spotlight is on Princess Culture and how it affects people around the world.

Voice 1  

Many of the most popular princess films are made by a company called Disney. Most of these Disney Princess films are animated - they are drawn cartoon pictures, not real life actors. Disney is a multi-billion dollar business. Its television channel is broadcast in 133 countries. Disney makes films and television programs but it also sells other products. Disney Princesses are on bags, clothes, toys, and many, many other things. They are very popular with little girls around the world.

Voice 2  

Many little girls around the world like to pretend and act like the princesses from Disney films and other stories. The princesses are all beautiful. They wear fancy dresses and jewellery. People call this “Princess Culture.” Some people think this is not always good. They worry that young girls are learning wrong things about their own value. They worry that girls will think they are only important because of their physical appearance and beauty.

Voice 1  

In many of these stories, the princess does not have much power. She is there only to look pretty and wait for a prince. This makes the princess passive. She just lets things happen to her or the situation around her. Often in princess stories, the princess passively waits for a prince to rescue her.

Voice 2  

People are concerned that little girls are learning that they are only meant to be passive and beautiful. And that means the girls will not achieve many great things that they COULD have. Sarah M. Coyne is a professor at Brigham Young University - and she has a daughter. She told science website Phys.org:

Voice 4  

"It is frustrating when other people see my daughter and say, 'Look at the little princess!' She is so much more than that! When we talk to little girls, we do not hear people say: 'You are so smart. You worked so hard. Your body can do great things!' That is the more important message we should be sending."

Voice 1  

Some people also think that Princess Culture teaches girls they must look a particular way to be beautiful. Charu Uppal is a sociologist in Sweden. She studied little girls in Fiji, India, and Sweden. In her study, she asked 63 girls to draw a princess. Sixty-one of them - almost all of them - drew a princess with light skin and long, yellow hair. Yet most of the women in the world do not look like this! Most of the girls drawing the pictures did not look like this either. Uppal and others think these girls may not believe they can be as beautiful or valuable as a princess. They think that Princess Culture teaches a very particular idea of beauty. And they worry this might be harmful for little girls.

Voice 2  

These ideas may be influencing what little girls think of their own abilities. Coyne did a research study on children in preschool. Many young children are around a lot of Disney Princess films and books. The study showed the effect of this influence. These girls behaved in ways that were more limited by ideas of what women can do. Coyne says:

Voice 4  

“We know that girls who strongly follow female gender roles feel like they cannot do some things. They are not as sure that they can do well in math and science. They do not like getting dirty, so they are less likely to try and experiment with things.”

Voice 1  

But other people disagree. They say that pretending to be a princess can be good for girls. There have been, and are, many real-life princesses around the world. And these princesses are often not passive. They are powerful female leaders.

Voice 2  

Lisa Abeyta is a mother and writer. She thinks that it is helpful for girls’ development to pretend to be many things, including princesses. Abeyta wrote in the Huffington Post:

Voice 5  

“If I remember correctly, most of those princess stories have the ladies facing down evil. They run through forests and climb towers — and they do it all in a dress! What do we want to teach our daughters? For me it is this: Be brave enough to accept and develop your full self.”

Voice 2  

Disney has also tried to address the problems of princess culture. They have tried to expand the idea of what a princess is. They have made films about princesses that do not only have blue eyes and long yellow hair. One of these princesses is Mulan. Mulan is from China. And in 2016, Disney released a film about Moana. Moana is a princess from a Polynesian island.

Voice 1  

Mulan and Moana look different from traditional Disney princesses. But they are also active princesses - they are not passive. In these films, these princesses see that their families or homes are in trouble. They risk everything to save their communities. They show real power and strength.

Voice 2  

Princess films, ideas and images do affect young girls - and boys. Can these steps by Disney change the effect of princess culture?

Voice 1  

Have you seen or heard many princess stories? Did you ever pretend you were a princess or prince? Do you see any influence of Disney Princess films on the place where you live? You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. Look for another Spotlight program that tells the stories of some of the amazing princesses from history. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “The Effects of Princess Culture.”

Voice 1  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Does Disney Princess Culture affect the country where you live? Do you think it is a good thing or bad thing?

Comments


Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 15, 2019

From .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To spotlight program
Subject to answer the questions below
Location São Paulo city SP Brazil
Tuesday 15, October 2019

Dear Liz Waid, Bruce Gulland, Rena Dam, and Michio Ozaki

Thank you for producing and writing more one great article for us brazilian people and others around the World.
Question 1 - Does Disney Princess Culture affect the country where you live?
Answer 1 - Yes, It does.
Question 2 - Do you think it is a good thing or bad thing?
Answer 2 - I think it is a good thing because the little girls dressed like a Princesses to become Princesses and they dream to be an important girls when they become an adult women.  The same happen to the boys, they wear the Prince’s clothes and they look like a true/real Princes.
However, the most important is the children should feel happy during their childhood.
Your regards,
God bless you
Severino Ramos
Brazil