Film Forward

A Recent Episode Of A Disney Cartoon Challenges Gender Norms And Who Can Be A Princess

"He can be a princess if he wants to."

The debate about whether or not boys should be able to have princess toys or dress up as princesses is one seemingly as old as time — but now one Disney XD show is settling the discussion once and for all. A recent episode of Star vs. The Forces of Evil introduced a new princess and, spoiler alert, it wasn't a girl princess.

In the episode, we see Marco Diaz (voiced by Adam McArthur), disguising himself as Princess Turdina in a move to save the students of St. Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses from the clutches of the wicked headmistress named Ms. Heinous. Just before Marco reveals himself to everyone, Ms. Heinous swoops in and basically outs him by pulling down his shirt, revealing a single chest hair, to show everyone he is actually a boy. The moment backfires on Ms. Heinous with the students all rallying behind Marco and taking a big swing at gender norms.

"That doesn't prove anything," one princess shouts in the crowd. "Princesses can be hairy."

"Why does it matter if he's a boy?" another asks. "Nothing he said was wrong."

Other exclamations include: "We believe in you, Turdina," "Turdina is a state of mind," and "He can be a princess if he wants to."

It's in this moment that gender norms are challenged on Star vs. The Forces of Evil — the same show that featured the Mickey Mouse company's first-ever animated same-sex kiss. By saying that it doesn't matter that Marco is a boy, that this doesn't disqualify him from being a princess, it shows that it is what he stands for and what is inside his heart that makes him a princess. We can all be whatever we want to be — whether that be a princess or not.

The evolution of Disney as a brand has been occurring slowly throughout its nearly 100-year history, making progress with the stories it tells with admittedly a few stumbles along the way. By continuing to show children that we should celebrate diversity, they are setting up the next generation of fans to be more loving and accepting of those who are different than them.

Watch the clip from “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” here:

(H/T: Digital Spy)

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

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