Study Finds Disney Princesses as “Not Harmful” to Girls’ Self Esteem


For Decades the Disney Princesses have inspired many children all across the world, showing them stories of bravery, courage, determination, kindness, wit and love.

Well there are many parties out there that believe otherwise, saying that it gives girls “Unrealistic Expectations” or that they are “poor stereotypes” or “are bad role models”. This doesn’t just include the Disney Princesses, brands like BratzJem and the Holograms,  Monster High and of course Barbie are all seen as “harmful” by certain groups.

But are they right or is it completely backwards?

American born author Sarah Coyne, of Utah’s Brigham Young University, conducted a study, questioning young children and their parents about films that they liked, specifically Disney Princess films, as well as merchandise featuring the Disney Princesses such as Rapunzel, Moana and even Elsa.

They were then asked to fill in questionnaires five years later to allow the research team to measure the effect of ‘princess culture’ on attitudes between pre-school and early adolescence. Children were asked to rate how strongly they agreed with statements such as “I am a kind and caring person” and “I like babies and small children a lot”. Most questions were of course looking to see any possible “Gender Stereotype Problems” or “Masculinity Issues” which of course they did. They even asked questions for the parents seeing is any of the toys or merchandise had any negative impact on them.

Once the study concluded Ms. Coyne stated:

“Overall, we found that princess culture tended to have a small but positive impact on child development over time. Higher engagement with princess culture during the preschool period was associated with holding more progressive attitudes about women, particularly for girls. Girls who highly engaged with princess culture during the preschool years were more likely to view educational opportunities, relationships and careers as being equally important for men and women.”

Now as a Man in his Mid 20s, I have to say that I LOVE the Disney Princesses. I love Belle, Mulan, Aurora, Cinderella etc.

Why? Because they never gave up.

I of course watched all Disney movies on VHS in the 90s and I always enjoyed the Princess ones. Snow White, runs away from her evil step mother and meets the Dwarfs, and what does she do? She takes charge, imagine that, a teenager taking care of herself and taking charge of 7 men and a group of animals.

Tiana, works hard most of her life thinking that she needs nobody’s help and is alone, but when she learns that being with others is important she beats the villain and achieves her goal with her new husband.

Mulan, risks her life to save her father from going to war under pain of death, saves China and becomes a national hero.

Cinderella, Walt Disney’s favorite Princess, works hard every day and is rewarded for her hard efforts by her Fairy Godmother and has her dream come true.

These are powerful, strong and kind women who inspire not just girls, but boys too, I can account for that.

Sadly even with this recent study the debate still continues with a recent Good Morning Britain debate taking place just a few days ago. Some people only see things with narrow minded vision and only take things at face value sadly. But hopefully some day we will move beyond this petty debate, Parents should be allowed to parent their own children, nobody else should say what your child can and can’t watch or play with.

I hope the Disney Princesses continue to inspire future generations, and that the lineup continues to grow with each new princess.

**Editor’s note** I want to point out something else not mentioned. Disney Princesses make many girls and boys happy. In a world where race has become quite the issue, there are many children that love princesses that don’t look like them and that is okay. Representation is important sure, but many children connect with a character. I’ve seen little black girls dressed as Elsa and they were so happy and looked great. I’ve seen a little, white, ginger girl adore and dress like Tiana. She’s my daughter and to this day she’s her favorite Disney Princess.

I would think the idea that children can see other cultures, races, and points of view, and then relate and love them is a good thing. I know I smile every time I see boys and girls embrace various characters that are different than themselves and dress as them for Halloween or just to visit the parks. 

Source: Daily Mail 

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