Female Representation in Disney


Photo by Jayme McColgan on Unsplash

Cinderella’s castle in Disney World sets the stage for an earlier example of female representation examined.

Kanika R., Lead Writer

Disney has released multiple award-winning films that are watched mainly by a younger demographic. For almost 100 years, Disney has influenced the mindsets of many about gender roles. However, as society is slowly changing so are Disney’s movies. 

In the early years of Disney, the audience was given Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. In these movies, the princesses are depicted to be ‘damsels-in-distress’. As an example, Cinderella was treated harshly by her family only to be saved by her ‘Prince Charming’. This gave children the idea that men are simply superior to females (and females need to be saved by men), but this idea was not just fueled by Disney movies but by society as well. Disney was just following the norm of the early 1900s, as Disney was one of the main entertainment companies during this time and companies “strive to make something valuable to others” (Medium, Cave). 

But, all this changed as the times changed. Disney entered many legal battles for their misrepresentation of females in their movies. Gender roles are a huge part of society and media already have a substantial influence in portraying what is expected from society and social norms (Gardner). 

Disney has shifted its portrayal of women, specifically the princesses, to adapt to a changing world. In 2013, Disney released the movie Frozen where the two leads were females, and the plot revolved around them. True love with the male lead was the comedic part of it and Disney seemed to be playing around with it as the act of true love is that of a sister, not a male lead. This movie was a huge shift from Cinderella and is just another example of how Disney adapted to new times. They don’t need a man to save them or make them happy, which is the message that should be favored given the progress made in our day and age. 


Gardner, S. (2015). CHOICE THEORY: GENDER ROLES AND IDENTITY. International Journal Of Choice Theory & Reality Therapy, 35(1), 31-36.  

Cave, Adam. “Consumer vs. Producer- a Change in Mindset That Will Change Your Life.” Medium, The Startup, 26 Feb. 2018, https://medium.com/swlh/consumer-vs-producer-a-change-in-mindset-that-will-change-your-life-11cf8092e3e6.