There are warnings about all sorts of things that our kids can get influenced by these days – the internet, social media, movies and now the Disney Princess Culture.
A new study from Brigham Young University has found children who are exposed to Disney at an early age will fall into believing in stereotypes which can limit one’s potential. The stereotypical behavior towards males and females won’t damage a child on their own, but it has the potential to harm young women in the long term.
Life Professor, Sarah M. Coyne led the study on the effect of the Disney Princess Culture on 3 to 4 year olds. The team observed and evaluated 198 preschoolers as they watched Disney movies, played with toys and other sources. The results showed 96% of the girls and 87% of the boys had increased their view on female stereotypes, which would result in the girls avoiding opportunities that aren’t feminine as they got older.
“Parents think that the Disney Princess culture is safe. That’s the word I hear time and time again — it’s ‘safe,'” Coyne explained. “But if we’re fully jumping in here and really embracing it, parents should really consider the long-term impact of the princess culture.”
“We know that girls who strongly adhere to female gender stereotypes feel like they can’t do some things,” Coyne said. “They’re not as confident that they can do well in math and science. They don’t like getting dirty, so they’re less likely to try and experiment with things.”
The study also found that girls who embraced the Disney Princess Culture had worse self-esteem and body confidence.
“Disney princesses represent some of the first examples of exposure to the thin ideal,” Coyne explained. “As women, we get it our whole lives, and it really does start at the Disney princess level, at age three and four.”
As a mother of girls who allows her daughters to watch Disney films, I find the study interesting.
I watched Disney movies as a child and I don’t believe it had an effect on my ability to smash through stereotypes and it certainly didn’t give me low self-esteem about my body.
Children need to understand that movies are stories. Disney movies offer themes and lessons that we can all relate to and learn from .
The power of sibling love in Frozen, the importance of friendship and sticking together in Toy Story, and life is not perfect in The Good Dinosaur.
Why do we have to question every innocent story line and find a reason its message can damage our kids?
A healthy approach is watching the Disney movies and ask the kids what they thought about different themes. Encourage your children to read and watch other movies that allow the girls to lead or shine.
Parents also need to be the example they want their kids to follow. A lot of stereotypical beliefs are learned from those close around us.
What do you think about the study? Do your kids like watching a lot of Disney movies? Do you think they have been influenced to create stereotypes?