“The genderization effects of Disney characters on children”

By: Nika Darabi

Disney is among on of the America’s popular cultural institutions. Most children are in love with Disney characters and they dream of seeing them in person. Although Disney may look glamorous and beautiful even for parents, it has a negative impact on children. Disney cartoons indirectly teach children how to genderize. Most children often receive their first impression of how men and women are supposed to act through Disney cartoons. Parents who try to make their children stop nagging by playing a Disney cartoon for them do not have any clue how adversely they are affecting their children.

Lets take “Sleeping Beauty”, one of the typical Disney princesses, as an example to see how it affects children. The story is about a little girl named Aurora who has been cursed by a malicious witch to die on her sixteenth birthday when she pricks her finger on a spindle. However, some good fairies use their magic to change the curse to only make her fall asleep until she is kissed by her true love. As the plot predicts, she pricks her finger and she falls asleep. Then prince charming comes and kisses her. They marry and they live happily ever after.

How fabulous.

Disney depicts Aurora as such a beautiful woman. Most young girls, after watching this cartoon, want to look like Aurora because in their childhood world they think in order to have a true love to care for them, they have to be as beautiful as Aurora. Disney characters present the exact same message as Barbie, either look perfect or go unnoticed. It is interesting that studies have shown that the human face cannot normally look like Aurora or any other princess characters in Disney because the proportions of the human facial features are bigger than the miniaturized Disney characters.

Besides that, most Disney cartoons teach girls that in order to be successful in finding their prince charming they need to be complacent and weak. That’s exactly what we can see in sleeping beauty, and the message can be found in many other Disney cartoons as well. Cinderella is one of them. Furthermore, Disney teaches girls that they are supposed to be extremely demure, and take a proactive stance is not seen as the best option for gaining the prince’s attention.

Men in Disney cartoons are allowed to be aggressive. Disney teaches them in order to be successful they need to be strong but silent and introverted

Disney also changed the beauty standard for both girls and boys. In the first place it demonstrates that beauty is all about people’s faces and bodies, and nothing deeper. Most of the young boys who have watched Disney cartoons in their childhood would like to find a girl who is like jasmine, mermaid, Cinderella or any other beautiful characters in Disney.  Many girls who spent their childhood watching cartoons from Disney and playing with Barbies like to date someone who is handsome, rich and in good shape, no matter what mentality he has.

Many of the movies and characters made by Disney have a negative impact on children by teaching them what good and bad means. They teach children what is called beautiful and what is called ugly. They also teach them what it means to be a girl or a boy and what they are supposed to do to be accepted in any way. Parents must be careful about what their kids watch. The severe impact of some of the programs may be irreversible.

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This entry was posted in Spring 2012, Student Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

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