Disney, We Want Our Princesses Back
This month, Disney’s Dream Big, Princess initiative launched its “global photo campaign” on social media in yet another attempt to foist its politically correct message on young girls. According to its website, the campaign “collaborated with professional photographers from around the world to create a series of empowering images showcasing real-world girls and women” in order to encourage kids to “dream big.”
Each photographer will post her images on social media with the hashtag DreamBigPrincess. For every like a #DreamBigPrincess photo receives, and every photo published publicly with #DreamBigPrincess (the initiative encourages the public to share their own images of their daughters’ big dreams using the same hashtag), Dream Big, Princess will donate $1 to GirlUp. The campaign will continue until October 11, 2017.
According to its website, GirlUp is an organization that aims to give girls in struggling nations “an equal chance for education, health, social and economic opportunities, and a life free from violence.” Which is a big dream. And a worthwhile one too. But it’s a little unclear who exactly is meant to see these photos and be inspirited by them since, presumably, the impoverished girls who will benefit from the funds raised for GirlUp aren’t viewing and sharing images on Twitter.
So, essentially, the idea seems to be that this campaign wants Disney princesses to inspire young girls here in America to follow their dreams which, in turn, will raise money to help girls in less affluent countries to follow theirs. A bit complicated, perhaps, but not necessarily a bad idea. Disney princesses have been inspiring girls to follow their dreams for over seventy years. Why should they stop now?
Disney princesses are nothing if not dreamers. Pretty much every Disney princess begins as a girl who longs for something more than the life she is currently living. All that Dream Big, Princess (and their photo campaign) should have to do to effectively speak to an audience of girls, whose dreams are myriad and varied, is highlight the attributes these princesses embody that allow them to achieve their dreams. Courage, tenacity, independence, curiosity, sacrifice, hope — the kind of inner strengths that turn a dream into a reality. And then, no matter what each girl’s individual dream happens to be, there will be (as Dream Big’s promotional materials state) “a princess to show her it’s possible.”
But, instead of showing girls how to achieve their dreams (whatever their dreams may be) Dream Big, Princess co-opts the princesses (and their dreams) and uses them to disingenuously promote the types of dreams they think little girls ought to have.
In the central ad of the Dream Big, Princess initiative, Disney princesses are paired with little girls who are, supposedly, inspired by them to follow their own (very specific dreams). Ariel swims through the ocean, a girl dives into a pool. Cinderella twirls in her homemade ball gown, a little girl performs a dance routine. Rapunzel swings by her hair, a little girl swings on a rope swing. “Be students, be teachers, be politicians, . . . be astronauts, be champions,” the accompanying song commands them.
And, sure, these are all dreams a little girl could have. But she might also want to be a mother. Or a wife. Any number of other things. Why does she have to be an athlete?
The dreams this campaign is projecting on young girls certainly aren’t the dreams of the princesses being used to inspire them. Ariel’s dream was not to be a champion swimmer. Cinderella’s was not to be a professional dancer. Rapunzel didn’t hope to make hair swinging an Olympic sport. In fact, none of these things had anything to do with their dreams at all. A little girl who longs to be a professional dancer isn’t going to take much away from Cinderella’s time at the ball. The connections that Dream Big, Princess is making between a young girl’s potential dreams and the dreams of Disney princesses are, at best, a stretch.
Dream Big, Princess is using the princesses to promote their own agenda because they know how much little girls love Disney princesses. But the dreams of the princesses aren’t the kinds of dreams this initiative approves of for young girls.
The narrator in the ad for the photo campaign actually says it best: “When I think about all the girls . . . that are influenced by the idea of the Disney princess, you know that this is an opportunity to inspire girls to do something more.”
No, Dream Big, little girls love Disney princesses because they already encompass the things girls long for. Because they show us the way to be whatever it is we yearn to become. Because they accept all our dreams, no matter how small, and teach us the virtues we must embody to achieve them. To those little girls, the princesses are perfect just the way they are. And to the princesses, so are those little girls. Shame on you, Dream Big. We want our princesses back.