Disney is unleashing a new Princess to better capitalize on one of their largest target audiences– preschool-aged girls. Sofia the First, who is set to get her own TV show and movie in 2012, looks just like all the other Disney princesses. She is pale-skinned and blue-eyed, with a tiny waist that is smaller than her head. She has a pale periwinkle gown and a tiara, a modern update on Cinderella’s iconic dress for the ball. In fact, it is interesting how much Sofia is merely an update on Cinderella. While she is a little girl rather than a young woman, both Cinderella and Sofia start out as “commoners” and become royal through marriage. The only difference is that while Cinderella gets whisked out of poverty and slavery by marrying the Prince herself, it is Sofia’s mother who marries into royalty, changing Sofia’s life for good.
Peggy Orenstein’s book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture , outlines the criticism of Princess culture. I highly encourage everyone to read this book to understand the details of the Princess issue, but I will talk about two main problems today. The first is that the Disney Princess industry promotes consumerism and only exists to sell things to young girls and their parents– $4 million worth of stuff every year. The second is that Princess culture is in the business of selling traditional gender roles.
Sofia’s target audience is girls under seven– precisely the age when many young girls become self-aware about their weight and how they look. To fight against the criticisms of the Princess industry, Disney emphasizes that Sofia may be white and pretty, but what she really teaches is that
“…the inner character of kindness, generosity, loyalty, honesty and grace make you special, not the dress you wear“.
A spokesperson for Disney has said,
“…although Sofia will have plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes, our stories will show Sofia, and our viewers, that what makes a real princess is Continue reading