Disney Princesses Muffled in Many Popular Animated Films, Study Finds

Media Report to Women, Winter 2016 | Go to article overview

Disney Princesses Muffled in Many Popular Animated Films, Study Finds


The Walt Disney Company has built a multimillion-dollar franchise around the Disney princesses, and little girls all over the world pretend to be Ariel or Belle. But what sort of model are they getting for what it means to be a girl or a boy?

Carmen Fought (Pitzer College) and Karen Eisenhauer (NC State) used linguistic tools to help analyze how gender is presented in the "Disney princess" movies from 1937 to 2013. They presented their findings at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, held in Washington, DC, in January. Their question: Who gets to do the talking? They found that while the princesses are often the lead characters, male characters are more prevalent, and speak more than female characters.

For example, in "Aladdin," male characters speak eight times as much as female characters. While female characters speak 50% to 70% of the lines in the vintage movies Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, those in subsequent films get far fewer lines - sometimes only one-third of the dialogue.

Even Frozen, the 2013 mega blockbuster starring two princess sisters, gives women only 41% of the dialogue (and the screenplay was written by a woman, Jennifer Lee, who served as the film's co-director as well). …

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Disney Princesses Muffled in Many Popular Animated Films, Study Finds
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