Learn to Adapt: Depictions of Female Protagonists in Disney Fairy Tale Adaptations
Lind, Ana Dor
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Lind, Ana Dor
The Disney Princess franchise, since its formation in 2000, has become a staple of American girlhood. The princess phenomenon has caused many to question the impact that Disney Princesses have on American culture. Since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Disney Princess films have steadily become more progressive in the ways they portray their heroines. However, because Walt Disney Studios takes a corporate approach to storytelling that prioritizes profitability, Disney Princesses still conform to trends of female misrepresentation in popular media. This thesis tracks how the heroines featured in the Disney Princess franchise are depicted over time. Nine films that span from Snow White to Tangled are evaluated based on a set of original research criteria. The categories include total percentage of screen time, number of Progressive Actions, and how many times the protagonist rescues other characters or herself. The data show that female protagonists in Disney's animated princess movies have become more active and complex characters over time. However, the trends that have persisted correlate to the broader struggles of female representation in the media, such as women being held to rigid standards of beauty and being out spoken by the male characters in their films.