Love ’em or hate them, there is no denying that the Disney Princesses—Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, etc.—play an important role in the lives of many young girls.
While some argue that these princesses act as role models for growing girls, critics say that the fact that they are pretty, sparkly, and in some cases look eerily alike reinforce the idea that the most important thing about any girl/woman is her appearance.
UK-based artist and cartoonist David Trumble takes the latter point of view. A few months ago, he gave the Disney princess treatment to 10 real-life female role models including Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Anne Frank to name a few.
He explained his reasons for doing so:
“. . . I wanted to analyze how unnecessary it is to collapse a heroine into one specific mold, to give them all the same sparkly fashion, the same tiny figures, and the same homogenized plastic smile.
My experience of female role models both in culture and in life has shown me that there is no mold for what makes someone a role model, and the whole point of Merida [from Pixar’s Brave] was that she was a step in the right direction, providing girls with an alternative kind of princess. Then they took two steps back, and painted her with the same glossy brush as the rest. So I decided to take 10 real-life female role models, from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and filter them through the Disney princess assembly line.
The result was this cartoon. . . Some didn’t get the joke, some disagreed with it, others saw no harm in it at all and wanted to buy the doll versions of them.”
Whether one gets the joke or not, there is something a bit oddly familiar and creepy seeing such real-life icons as Disney heroines.
On a personal note, as a parent of a four year old girl, I feel torn over Disney princesses in general. On one hand, many can be viewed as strong female heroines.
On the other hand, Trumble has a valid point when he says that they are all from the same mold. Despite efforts to keep my daughter’s life as princess-free as possible, she recently asked for an Ariel doll, and I did buy her one.
It’s at least comforting to know that I am not alone in these ambivalent thoughts.
Check out the illustrations here.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise