Disney says they want girls to know they can be more than princesses


Disney knows it has a princess problem, and now is encouraging girls to dream big. Photographing girls and women leading in sports, STEM, and more, they’re showing girls what real princesses look like.

When you think Disney, you think princesses, like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, waiting to be saved and whisked away to their castles. But girls are so much more than that. And Disney’s hoping they can fix that perception.

With their new #DreamBigPrincess photo campaign, Disney is out to prove that princesses are more than you thought. The campaign wants to inspire girls around the world to “Dream Big.”

The campaign had 19 female photographers take images of strong female role models from all around the world to show what real princesses look like. The pictures include the youngest person to speak at the U.N., the leader of the first female cycling team in Afghanistan, a Chinese paralympic gold medalist, a young author of a STEM coding book for kids, and more.

And it’s all for a great cause. Whenever someone shares one of these images with the hashtag #DreamBigPrincess or likes one on social media, Disney will donate $1 to the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign with the hopes of raising $1 million.

Yes, it may be an image-boosting campaign for the company, but it’s still great to see Disney taking a bigger role in combating gender stereotypes. The Disney princesses are classics, but there’s no denying they can be problematic. Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty have basically no agency at all. Ariel literally has no voice. And the recent Beauty and the Beast movie had fans debating whether Belle and the Beast’s relationship was really abusive.

And girls idolize these princesses. It’s so ingrained in us. We see it in their movies. And at Disney World, little girls can get princess makeovers and are called princess by the cast members. It’s a whole world. And it’s dream come true for them.

The idea of princesses isn’t necessarily inherently negative, but as Vogue points out, a 2016 survey showed that “princess culture” can lead to girls falling into typical gender roles and stereotypes later in life. It’s not surprising. We mimic what we see.

But princesses can do more than just wait for Prince Charming. And Disney’s proving it.

Luckily, Disney has been taking steps to change the idea of what a Disney princess is recently, giving their characters more agency and bigger roles in their own stories. Moana is her own hero, goes on her own journey, and doesn’t have a romantic storyline. Other movies like Frozen and Brave have also showed powerful, empowered women.

Now Disney’s taking things up a notch to prove to girls that they can be more than just princesses with their #DreamBigPrincess campaign.

“Like most kids, my daughters grew up having a lot of exposure to Disney and Disney princesses,” photographer Kate Parker told Vogue. She went on:

"“So I wanted to find a way to combine an element of empowering princess and real girls. … A lot of girls feel like you have to either be a tomboy or a girly girl who dresses up. But Alice likes both things. I wanted her to know that that’s okay and you can be anything you want to be. It’s a gray area that’s not discussed a lot.”"

Next: Disney's Princesses are returning to the big screen

Who doesn’t love the Disney princesses? They’re classics for a reason. But it’s important to see that you can be something else too.