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Disney Princesses: The Development Of Self Identity In Children

1719 words - 7 pages

According to Santrock (2011), the development of a sense of self, in which an individual starts “to sense a separate existence from others” (p. 185), begins in infancy. It is thought to have emerged as a result of sensory-motor and perceptual experiences, and contribute to a child’s interaction with others as well as his or her language skill development (Guardo, 1968). As stated by Wylie (1961), self has two chief meanings which include firstly, self as object, and secondly, self as subject. The first meaning, self as object, refers to the perception of an individual as an object by forming a conception of his or her abilities, weaknesses, and values (Wylie, 1961). As for the second ...view middle of the document...

The Disney Princess line was created in 2001 as an advertising campaign targeted toward children (Orenstein, 2006). The advertising campaign aims to attract a wide audience of girls using a way of encouraging children to personally identify with the characters in the films (Do Rozario, 2004). Disney and its princess phenomenon have been elaborated as having a powerful influence on children’s self-identity, creating a new “girlhood” that is extensively defined by gender (England, Descartes, & Collier-Meek, 2011) and beauty.95
The popular Disney Princess line includes eight Disney Princess movies which can be separated into two groupings according to their date of released on timeline. The two groupings are the classic movies and the recent films. The classic movies were released between 1937 and 1959, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Cinderella (1950), and Sleeping Beauty (1959). The recent films began to be released after a period of thirty years following the release of classic films. The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), and Mulan (1998) are movies representing the recent Disney Princess movies.95
As mentioned earlier, most children spend their time on television especially on Disney Princess movies. Additionally, these fairy tale films were found to have a great influence on children’s development of self-identity. Thus, it is important to investigate the effect of Disney Princess films on the formation of self-identity among children. This paper aims to study how Disney Princess and their images depicted in Disney films influence children’s perception of beauty and their self-identities created. The comparison of the identities of Disney Princesses in the classic and recent Disney films is made in order to illustrate the impact of Disney Princess on the development of self-identity more extensively. The movies chosen to represent the classic Disney films are Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. On the other hand, Pocahontas was used as a reference to the recent Disney films in the comparison of two groupings of Disney movies. The characteristics of the Disney Princesses and their suitors that have appeared in the two Disney film groupings are contrasted in order to investigate the difference of their reflections of self-identity on children.180
Physical Appearance versus Intellect
Firstly, the depictions of beauty in the classic and recent Disney films are compared and contrasts. In the representatives of classic Disney films, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the idea of ‘an individual’s appearance is valued more than his or her intellect’ was shown in both of the movies (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund, & Tanner, 2003). In Sleeping Beauty, the first gift given to Princess Aurora by one of the fairies is beauty. This shows that physical beauty was the most important thing to a female. Furthermore, physical beauty is associated with positive characteristics such as kindness,...

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