Disney princess culture has been a staple of what it means to grow up as a little girl in America for decades. But while it seems like a family-friendly, the culture might have some harmful consequences.
A recent study in Child Development says that too much Disney princess engagement could reinforce old school stereotypes with a long-lasting impact. Researchers examined 198 preschoolers. The girls who watched more Disney princess media demonstrated long-term female gender-stereotypical behaviors.
"We know that girls who strongly adhere to female gender stereotypes feel like they can't do some things," Brigham Young University professor Sarah Coyne, who conducted the study, said in a press release. "They're not as confident that they can do well in math and science. They don't like getting dirty, so they're less likely to try and experiment with things."
Here are three ways to address princess culture's potentially damaging effects:
1. Parents should introduce other cultural touchstones to little girls.
Parents play the biggest role in shaping the behavior of their kids. They can get them involved in other activities, including those relating to science and technology.
2. Disney needs more characters that defy gender stereotypes.
Disney must break away from movies that reinforce unrealistic gender standards for princesses and female characters. By creating more rounded characters, the company can play a role in helping girls rise above gender stereotypes.
3. Little boys should consume more Disney princess culture.
The silver lining from this study was that little boys who engaged with Disney princess culture received a positive counterbalance to the macho-oriented media that they normally consume. Essentially, the more a little boy watches Disney princess content, the more likely he'll grow up with a healthy attitude towards body image.