Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Have Fairytales Been Fooling Us All?

Does society choose to ignore all the horrific messages buried within Disney’s classics, or does no one even realize they’re there?

It’s important to note that I am probably one of the biggest Disney fans out there; however, that doesn’t enable me to shy away from all the messed up morals my favorite princesses preached. The majority of children’s stories, such as “Rapunzel,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Cinderella,” originate from a collection of folk tales titled “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The two brothers published the book in 1812, long before Disney transformed them into the blockbusters they are today. Unfortunately, the stories within “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” are unrecognizable when examined side by side with those produced by Disney. This is due to the fact that the original fairy tales end in everything but happily ever after. For instance, in the original edition of “The Princess and the Frog” the princess does not kiss the frog to transform him into a prince; instead, she hurls his body against a wall in an attempt to kill him thus triggering his change from reptile to royal. Romantic, right?

Aside from the gruesome details within “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” Disney’s classic films teach children, especially young girls, disturbing life lessons. With “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle experiences stockholm syndrome when she falls in love with her captor. The beast also abused Belle’s father for taking a rose from his castle’s garden. However, this detail seems to be glossed over by all the singing. Growing up, my personal favorite was “The Little Mermaid,” and year after year, nobody was able to come close to knocking that swimming redhead from the top spot. However, as I got older I suddenly realized all the appalling decisions Ariel made and how poorly they reflect on women. Not only does she give up her ability to speak just for the chance to kiss a prince, but her whole plan is based upon appearances. My mother’s personal favorite, “Aladdin,” is one of the few Disney princess movies where the princess is in a supporting role rather than the title character. Nonetheless, Jasmine remains a prominent Disney princess, just as hopeless as the rest. Aside from the fact that she wears a bra for the entire 91 minutes of the film, Jasmine complains the whole film about the law that declares that she has to be married in order to take her thrown, yet, by the end of the film she is practically skipping down the aisle. 

I could go on and on about the fact that Disney’s princesses are all size zeros or that “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” require a prince’s kiss to simply remain conscience, however, I would rather not be too cynical. Although the old cartoon princesses serve as rather lackluster role models, the new live-action remakes do hold promise. With women demanding equality, Disney has grown with the new age of feminism. Creating entirely new films such as “Brave,” “Frozen,” and “Moana” or the re-imagined classics like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” the era of empowerment is transparent.