Long Term Negative Effects of Disney | Teen Ink

Long Term Negative Effects of Disney

May 17, 2016
By darcilauren BRONZE, Reno, Nevada
darcilauren BRONZE, Reno, Nevada
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Disney is a huge company that has been a part of a lot of children and adult’s lives. It's a company that has over many years, created a household name of laughter, joy and entertainment. Disney in general also has been perceived as just any fun movies. Families think since it's cartoon, it's child-friendly. It's hard to notice what your kids watch in detail when you just want them to go to bed or be busy for a while. It's just another thing that's easy to let go by.  But, what if I said that children around the world are negatively affected by the false reality of Disney movies? Would you believe me? Now, don't get me wrong, Disney movies are enjoyable to watch and indeed teach many life lessons too many of us, but underneath all the dreams, laughter, and joy, there's a harsh reality of unrealism in every movie that awaits every eye, You just have to look a little closer than you think.

To start off with one movie that I have more issues with than all the others, The Little Mermaid, came out in 1989 and was always playing in my house. It started as a little innocent movie that was fun to watch for many childhood years, until I read between the lines. If you didn't know Ariel, the main character goes behind her father's back and visits “the surface”. There she thinks she met her true love ( like all Disney movies) “ at first sight.” Even though she never met the guy.  Ariel then meets Ursula the sea witch. Being the rebellious girl that she is, she abandoned her family, gave up her strongest talent, singing, and changed her body type in order to get her man for three days. “This story is basically saying it's okay to disobey your parents and you will still get what you want in the end” (Storify).  This is one of many examples of how in the long term, Disney teaches children that they shouldn't listen to their parents and that they should change who they are and their body types for their “true love”.

To further note, gender roles is an ongoing issue with Disney movies as well. “The countless gendered images portrayed in these films clearly depict the time period from which they originated” (Bispo, 2).  According to Jeff Guo, since The Little Mermaid came out in 1989, studies have shown the the female roles in Disney movies began to talk less and or have less speaking roles than male characters in the movies. In the classic movies such as Snow White (1938), Cinderella (1950), and The Sleeping Beauty (1959), researchers have found  that the female roles do in fact speak the same or even more than the men roles do. But, the following five Disney movies that were released shortly after, The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995) and Mulan (1998), showed that male roles in the movies had up to three times as many speaking lines than female roles. So what happened between those 60 years? Disney has taught kids about the early comings of gender roles and portrayed to them that women are supposed to be silent and stay at home to do chores and to do minimal activity outside what’s considered safe. Young girls are taught to rely on the prince charming who evidently might never come. Although, recent Disney movies such as Princess and the Frog (2009), Tangled (2010) Brave (2012) and Frozen (2013) are more equitable and have less gender role stereotypes.

In every movie, the princesses are portrayed as beautiful, perfect, and they have no flaws. They are skinny, beautifully dressed and silent. Princes in movies are strong, handsome and always get the girl.  In many films such as Snow White and Cinderella, there are many “ cleaning scenes”.  Disney portrays the scenes to teach girls that all they have to live for is cleaning supplies and that their number one goal in life is to do laundry. This teaches girls to not go out in the world get a job, or just get outside to make a change because apparently this is what all girls have to live for. According to Jeff Guo, researchers have also took a look into the compliments given to Disney princesses throughout the many movies out there. Research shows that classic Disney princesses on average receive 55% of compliments based on appearance and 11% on their skills, while the remaining 34% is the “other” category. In the Renaissance period of Disney, Princesses received 38% compliments on appearance and 23% on skill (39% other). Right off the bat we can see a decrease in the appearance compliments and an increase on skill which is incredible. In the new age movies, we finally see an overall decrease in the compliments based on looks and an increase on skill, which comes out to be around 22% appearance and 40% skill.

The reality of love in all Disney movies is that if you're beautiful, talented, strong and perfect that you'll find love at first sight even if it's with a stranger in the forest trying to dance with you. “Real relationships don't involve knights in shining armor, soulmates, gleaming carriages, castles or above all, living happily ever after” (Epstein). Co-independence is something that all princesses struggle with. Disney movies such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty are just some examples of how girls are portrayed to be weak little beings that rely on a random guy (they get married to after a few days) to be strong, and make decisions for them.  As in Cinderella “ if you're beautiful enough, you may be able to escape your terrible living conditions by getting a wealthy man to fall for you” (Jwalker1193). 
One of the big problems I have with Disney princesses is that without a doubt, their body types are incredibly unrealistic it makes me furious. “After all, since these characters are supposed to represent people in films made for children, they should probably look more like real people, right?” (Seiczkowski, Caven). Although I love the enjoyment of Disney movies, there’s one thing that has never changed since the first Disney movie in 1938, THEIR NECKS ARE ALMOST AS BIG AS THEIR WAIST. Talk about some squished intestines. Yikes! Here is some edited pictures by Buzzfeed about what normal bodies should look like if they were the average person.

To end, I would just like to point out that I am no way trying to offend any Disney lovers, because I am too a lover of the entertainment and joy I have when watching these movies. But this was just an opinion to bring up to readers because not everyone see’s Disney in the way that I perceived it after so many years. Disney is not often seen by people as negative but overall I believe that when you look a little closer than you think, you unravel the secrets behind Disney and how it overall effects not only everyone who watches the movies, but mostly the children who don’t understand the real meaning behind each entertaining story.


Culzac, Natasha. "Disney Princesses Are Not the Role Models I Want for My Kids - Tamzin Outhwaite." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 May 2016.
Guo, Jeff. "Researchers Have Found a Major Problem with ‘The Little Mermaid’ and Other Disney Movies." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2016. Web. 05 May 2016.

Bispo, Ashley Fairytale Dreams: Disney Princesses’ Effect on Young Girls’ Self-Images pg 2.
Brantz, Loryn. "If Disney Princesses Had Realistic Waistlines." BuzzFeed. N.p., 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 May 2016.


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