The Disney Princess Complex
I was a happy, chubby little girl. I dined on delicacies of Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, and Zebra Cakes. When I would wake up, I’d enjoy my breakfast of a cream-filled donut followed by Frosted Flakes eaten with my color-changing Lion King spoon. After my filling, sugary breakfast, I would wrap myself in the most beautiful blanket I could find, tie it around me Little Mermaid style, and I would be a princess. I would spin around under the ceiling fan trying to waltz as fast as it could spin until my legs felt like Jell-o. It would usually end with me crawling up the stairs because my legs didn’t work anymore (and that ended with me reenacting Mufasa’s fall….as my mother stood at the top of the stairs I would yell “Mother!!! Help….me!!!!” I was the coolest kid ever.)
In all that time of longing to be just like those gorgeous Disney princesses, never did I once think, “I should really stop eating those Twinkies and get a three inch waist.” Never. Not once. Even as an adult, I long to dance and twirl like Aurora in the woods, but I couldn’t care less about having a waist that will snap in two.
I see so many articles these days telling us to stand up to Disney and push for a more “realistic” princess. People are wanting to see Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel drawn as a size 14 5-foot-tall average girl. I am no size 2, but I have some arguments with this idea.
First of all, Cinderella was a starving slave forced to work without food for her stepmother and sisters. Ariel was a ridiculously good swimmer who had to use her entire body to get anywhere in the sea. Very fit, very athletic. Aurora lived in a cottage with three fairies who had no source of income other than their magic that they weren’t allowed to use. Food was most likely scarce. Snow White had to share a kitchen with seven men who worked in a mine. Do you really think there was food left in that kitchen for her? No wonder she ate the apple!
The fact is, making these specific story lines about a plus-sized girl just wouldn’t make sense. If Cinderella had enjoyed Twinkies as much as I did, her stepmother would’ve been incredibly curious about that growing waist line of hers. I’m not saying that a three inch waist is realistic. Please don’t take that away from this. These movies are cartoons, though. We have to make sure our daughters understand the difference between realistic expectations for our bodies and a form of art.
Working in the bridal industry, I have seen girls of all different sizes. I can honestly say that I have seen fit and beautiful women from size 2 to size 20. Bones structures are different. Genetic tendencies are different. From 4’9” to 6’2”, the heights of these women varied incredibly. Every single one of them could have been a model. Every single one of them is already a princess.
We worry so much that our daughters won’t be able to understand that they too could be a princess. We worry that Disney is creating a norm for beauty. A norm for what body size constitutes beauty. What we don’t see is that these girls care more about the beautiful dresses, the dancing, the kindness that these princesses show more than the size of their waists and hips.
First Corinthians says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” We usually think of this in context of love, but it applies in so many other instances. When we grow up, we lose that innocence that we were born with. We start fighting battles that we create ourselves. A battle against Disney seems so unimportant in the big scheme of things. Are our children concerned about Cinderella’s small waist, or are they too entranced with her ballroom dancing skills to care? Are all the daughters in the world worried about having a long, slim torso like Ariel, or do they want to learn to swim because of her?
What we should be concerned about is if they understand who their true King is. They have a Father to come home to who adorns their heads with crowns and thinks they are beautiful in all their forms. He traded his crown of thorns so we might wear crowns of love, beauty, and innocence. And He is waiting for us to dance into His arms in all our radiant beauty.
I encourage you, if you have a daughter, to go find two of your best blankets, tie them around yourselves, and be the princesses you are. I guarantee that neither of you will be worried about what size your jeans are.