What Disney Characters Taught Us


We were weaned on the Disney characters (no matter the generation). The themes are still used today and make one ponder what messages were deeply embedded in these tales that might have gone over the understanding of the young who might have harvested some odd notions about life. 

Let's have fun with this lighthearted look at our prime girls in the Disney hood. 

Snow White 

A wicked queen becomes jealous of Snow White when her mirror proclaims the young lady as the fairest in the land.  She seeks to take her out and hires a woodsman to kill her, but he can't do it and lets her escape. In the woods, she finds a cottage with seven dwarfs as she can cook and clean for them. The stepmother finds that she's still alive in the forest and dresses as an old hag and offers her a tainted apple.  The dwarfs watch over her sleeping body that will not awaken until a handsome prince kisses her.

Haven't we all known since middle school that mean girls happen and their envy and jealousy are poison? 

The messages here were pretty much, bitches are gonna hate on you when they envy.

Snow White's journey is all about escape. Run, Snow, Run! 

Utterly at the kindness and mercy of others, she seeks help and employs herself to contribute to the family of dwarfs to earn her keep. 

Hey, go ask Alice - I think she'll know!

It took the kiss of a handsome prince to bring her back to life and her rightful place as fairest in the land. 

The old adage "hiding your light under a bushel" comes to mind. Here's a girl with something coveted, beauty. So, what should a girl do to be accepted and not attacked? Maybe the message here is don't be too pretty or others  will take you down and make your life miserable. Don't use your potential. Run, hide!

A more subtle message is girls have no resources other than the kindness of others and some elbow grease. Snow White was a vulnerable girl who had nowhere to go. She could of come upon a den of monsters, but felt lucky to find strangers to cook and clean for as she had no assets, home, money of her own. In other words, honey, take on a wifey role and earn your place.

When we look at the fact she doesn't come awake until kissed, she is also at the complete control of a handsome prince's whims. Hey, don't we all deal with crushing on lotharios throughout our lives? Perhaps Old Walt Boy helped condition us for that future.  Will he find me pretty enough to kiss and save my life? 

We have to agree that today's characters have taken on a great change - Moana is a great example. That chick seriously jumped in and took control of her life and her people's fate. She wasn't waiting for a kiss or to take on a wifey role to save her hide. 



We can all relate at some time to Cinderella. When we were kids, we were at the mercy of the chores we had to do, the parents who provided for us, and we dreamed of the time when we grew up and moved out. 

Cinderella didn't do anything to change her situation until magic arrived to save her. Even with their assistance to meet the man who could marry her out of her miserable servitude, her looks were the only thing that was going to secure his attention. 

If I'm pretty enough and pretend to be something I'm not, I'll catch a prince.

In an abusive relationship with her stepmom and stepsisters, Cinderella could only hope and dream that her hero would be insistent enough to discover her.  She wasn't about to strike out on her own and rebuke the abuse. Instead, she secured her next meal ticket. 

Whereas Hazel wasn't going to be attracting any prince, she did work and earn money for her own keep. Cinderella was "rescued" because she was the fairest girl in the land. We learned pretty early on that intriguing a man and being beautiful could earn us a wealthy keeper. 

Didn't we secretly wish we had the foot that fit the slipper? 

(can't help but insert "Pretty Woman" here again)

The Anti-Classic Disney Examples

Here's some movies that might update the examples

A Cinderella Story

Even though this girl is at the mercy of her stepmom and stepsisters, she rebukes the "prince" for not accepting who she really is, fights with the law to get rid of the stepmom, and takes command of her own life. The boy is ultimately just frosting on her cake.

Legally Blond

She was a beautiful bubbly blond with one boy in particular she MUST marry. But, along the way of trying to impress him, she made a life for herself, one where more was asked from her than ever before. When she found she could succeed on her own, the boy who rebuked her wasn't good enough for her.

How to be Single

This movie follows a 20-something young
woman just out of college, trying to
 hit the career path and figure out the relationship thing. We watch her go from insecure and other-focused to living her own dreams with no guarantee a man will come along. And being happy doing it!


Most females probably would admit that Cinderella began an obsession with ballgowns and shoes, Sleeping Beauty made us believe in the magic of a kiss, and Snow White taught us to put up with quirky siblings/roommates.  

For vulnerable young girls who are still under the care and dependence of parents and often left home to marry as part of their maturation process, these classics were right on the mark for making girls see a character they identify with and especially in that era of 1937-1950s. 

One thing today's girls know is that relationships may not be forever, but self-reliance is necessary from birth to deathThey stand up to bullies and fight instead of run.