LOS ANGELES, CA - Parents try to be careful about what foods their children consume, but what about the media they are digesting? Researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed 198 preschoolers and measured how much time they spent watching and playing with princess stuff. They also interviewed their parents and teachers and had the kids rank their favorite “girls” toys and “boys” toys as well as gender neutral toys.
What they found is this; preschoolers who engage with Disney Princess culture are much more susceptible to damaging female gender stereotypes. The boys who played with the dolls and watched the movies tended to feel better about themselves and were nicer and more helpful. The head researcher stated that “princesses provide a needed counterbalance to hyper-masculine superhero media.” However, for the girls, more exposure led to a stronger desire to be perceived as feminine, more stereotypical “girly” behavior, and more body image issues. The study suggests that overtime the “damage” can have lasting effects.
Lead researcher Sarah Coyne says, “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… Disney Princesses also represent some of the first examples of exposure to the thin ideal.”
So should you ban princesses from your house? We seriously don’t think so. Let your daughters and your sons love their princess movies and learn about bravery and having big dreams from Elsa, Rapunzel, and Tiana. Also encourage your daughters and sons to play with trucks and get dirty outside in the yard looking for bugs. Disney Princesses aren’t evil, but studies that suggest that there is a right and a wrong way to be a little girl might be. We have to be aware of the media we’re consuming and we should teach our children to do the same.