The popular Disney Princess culture is doing more harm than good, according to a study from Brigham Young University. Disney princesses reinforce potentially damaging stereotypes to preschool children.
The study published on June 18 in Child Development says that the effect is not as bad for young boys. The female gender stereotypes as predicted by the princesses can limit a girl’s perspective on what she can do.
Girls could avoid trying out new things that are not considered feminine. They would not want to try getting dirty or at least be confident enough to pursue a career in science or math.
Moreover, as these girls grow up, they develop body issues. If bodies do not fit the ideal body as demonstrated by the princesses, they will try to replicate it even if it would harm their health.
The Disney Princess culture does not significantly affect the young boys. Apparently, the boys have better body esteem. Additionally, the Princess culture also balances out the negative effects of the ultra-masculine superhero entertainment shown to boys.
About 198 preschoolers were included for the study. These children’s interaction with the Disney Princess culture were evaluated, which included watching movies or playing toys.
Overall, 96 percent of girls watched shows or movies about Disney princesses while only 87 percent of boy did the same thing. Meanwhile, 61 percent of girls played with princess toys whereas only four percent of boys played the same toys.
The researchers found that Disney Princesses are good for boys but bad for girls. The results also show that the thin body obsession among women starts at a young age.
However, this does not mean that children should be prohibited from the Disney Princess culture. The study demonstrates that moderation is still key and children should be given a variety of toys or entertainment rather than the princesses alone.
It is also important for adults, especially the parents, to change how they talk with their children. Instead of simply dismissing these girls as little princesses, adults should try to compliment the kids based on less superficial things. Parents are also advised to teach the kids about the positives and negatives of the Disney princesses.