Since Snow White in 1937 that shared messages that encouraged girls into traditional women roles such as cooking, cleaning and looking after men, Disney have modernised their messages, values and morals in recent Disney Princess stars that promotes feminism, independence and power in young girls; that I believe as much more positive.
I have noticed people (often mothers) discussing an issue referred to as ‘The Disney Effect’ that essentially means young girls are likely to take the narrative of the Disney movie literally and obtain only life goals to marry a Prince.Which I’m sure is lovely but not quite the girl power inspiration modern young girls need. Classic Disney Princesses that rely on male figures to save them are Ariel (1989), Aurora (1959), and Cinderella (1950) as each Princess needed their Prince to create a resolution to the story, there was hardly any independence in the girls actions at all.
Although this differs with Princesses such as Mulan (1998) and Pocohontas (1995) who obtain more independence to fight for justice and become heroines, they are still supported with male figures like John Smith and the fact that Mulan had to disguise as a man to succeed, which suggests male figures still influence their success. As a result, young girls take this and come to the subconscious conclusion that you can’t achieve in life without your Prince or some sort of male figure. To further this, I would say that Nala is actually the heroine of The Lion King (1994) because she actually came and found Simba to encourage him to become king. Without her initiative, Scar would have won Pride Rock. Although she is shadowed by Simba’s physical actions of manly fighting for Pride Rock that sees him as the hero instead. Is Disney shadowing the heroines of the movies, or are they reversing the message but suggesting that the males need female support to succeed as well? Which therefore encourages gender equality with the theory that a king is nothing without his queen. This could have been the subtle changing point in the Disney movies that starts to show Disney Princesses in a more heroic and independent light.
Noticing that these three films mentioned (Mulan, Pocohontas and The Lion King) are made in the 90’s when feminism was more practised that could be inspired by Gwen Stefani’s lyrics in Ain’t No Holla Back Girl and Rich Girl, as well as movies like 10 Things I Hate About You that was all about the rebellious lifestyle of a teen girl. As times are moving forward Disney is modernising too. Newest film, Frozen (2013) contains the most obvious change in messages and values as the twist in the narrative’s ending promotes girl power and femininity. Frozen leads the audience to believe the male figure again is what is needed to save the characters and create resolution in the film yet the love of sisterhood causes the girls to save each other. This symbolism of the heroines is so refreshing and relieving as Disney has adopted a rise in role model attitude that positively influences today’s young female generation who are encouraged into independence and self power.