Basically You Didn't Have a Childhood?


I am one of the few people who can say that they have never seen an original Disney movie. Did your jaw drop just like many of the other people I tell this to? Now you're confused and you want to know what I mean by "original" because clearly I MUST have seen the Lion King, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Peter Pan, Snow White and if not those then Tangled. Well you may have to sit down because no I have not seen any of those movies. My mom hates cartoons, always has, and when my older sister was born she sucked it up and tried showing them to her. According to my mom my older sister hated them and would cry, so she got what she wanted anyway which meant not watching cartoons. When I was born two and half years later my sister's hatred for cartoon had not changed (she's twenty two and still hates them) so there was no reason to show them to me.

People always ask me how is it possible that I have never been exposed to any of the movies and that's the thing I have been exposed to them. I can look at a character (for the most part) and tell someone which movie that character is from, but I cannot name the dwarfs from Snow White for the life of me. I mean it is funny because now that I am older and I hear all the ways Disney movies are actually bad for children to watch I am glad the way I grew up. I think that people who grew up with the movies cannot admit that they can do harm, but I get to have an outsiders view which is pretty unique.

It is easy to find sites that can point out bad things about Disney movies. Still in denial that Disney movies are bad because I will list some things that kids observe from them:

·      Importance of social status

·      Historical Inaccuracies

·      Beauty is thinness

·      Sexual harassment is acceptable

·      Ugly is immoral

·      Beauty is moral

·      Gender stereotypes 

Above are just a few examples that overlapped on multiple sites. Since I never watched Disney movies though I am more curious about what I could have missed from not watching them. In the article Disney Princesses Have Mixed Effects on Children it summarizes Sarah Coyne's findings from her research on the topic at hand. Coyne, inspired by her 3 year old daughter, predicted with her research team that, "higher levels of Disney princess exposure would lead to more female gender stereotyping, higher levels of pro-social behavior, worse body image and lower aggression." 


The study took three preschools, three hundred and seven kinds total, and tested them as well as their teachers and parents trying to understand as much as they could the child's tendency and exposure to Disney culture. A strange result occurred, everything matched the teams' hypothesis except their assumption about body image. Those more exposed to princess lifestyle most were actually more likely to have better body image. The data had definitely shown that the negative of producing gender stereotyping but the positives were pro-social behaviors and better body image as well as lower aggression.

What I found was interesting was Coyne's comments on how when speaking to the children about Disney princesses they are very real to the kids. This realization of hers is exactly why I think when those kids, who almost think a Disney characters like real people from their past, are not inclined to believe that Disney can be bad. Coyne's recommendation is to watch princess shows in moderation, there are positive effects she states but the negatives are there to and in order to reduce them moderation is key.

            A comment on an observation Coyne made in the article had me thinking there may have been a flaw in the study. She said that kids who watched princess movies seemed to be kinder; I then thought of the fact that she never spoke of splitting up genders in this study, which I would be curious to see their groupings they made off of their observations of who watched princess movies because I'm assuming it would be split majority boys versus girls. If this is true boys and girls have very different aggression/social behaviors at that age and therefore their findings could have been more because of gender than princesses influences. 

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