Are Disney princesses the best role models for little girls? Carmen Fought, a professor at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., and Karen Eisenhauer, a graduate teaching assistant at North Carolina State University, have gathered up all the dialogue from Disney’s decades of princess movies and discovered something interesting: The oldest of the films, dating back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, give more speaking time to female characters than male ones (as also reported in The Washington Post). This is in deep contrast with Disney’s newer classics, including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, wherein women characters speak markedly less than men.
When The Little Mermaid came out in 1989, its aquatic heroine Ariel struck a chord like no Disney princess before her. Thousands of girls fell in love with the movie, only to realize, as they entered their teens, 20s, and 30s, that The Little Mermaid is — in the words of one Feministing contributor — “a feminist’s worst nightmare.” After all, this is a film about a girl who literally loses her voice and signs away her soul for the love of a man she’s never met.
According to a message on the artist’s website, the series of illustrations — titled Princest Diaries — is part of “an awareness campaign targeting minors who have been subject to sexual abuse by a family member. Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine, The Little Mermaid’s Ariel, and Sleeping Beauty are all portrayed as victims in these visual scenarios, and are each seen withstanding an inappropriate — and illegal — advance from their respective on-screen fathers. Saint Hoax told Yahoo Movies via email that hearing of her friend’s case of abuse inspired her to take action: “I recently learned that one of my closest friends was molested by her father when she was seven,“ the artist wrote.