Disney films under spotlight after being accused of stereotyping women through portrayal of princesses

  • Statements made by Kiera Knightley and Kristen Bell have sparked debate on whether Disney princesses are bad role models for young girls
  • Parents debate whether young girls should be banned from watching Disney films


An interview between Ellen DeGeneres and Kiera Knightley started a debate on whether certain Disney princess films portray women in a negative light.

Knightley said she had banned her daughter from watching older Disney princess films such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.

She disapproved of the fact that Cinderella “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her” and believes women should rescue themselves.

Speaking of The Little Mermaid, Knightley said she did not agree with the fact that the lead princess gives up her voice for a man.

Knightley is not the only star to share their disapproval of the values the earlier Disney films supposedly promote. Actress Kristen Bell, who voiced Princess Anna in Disney’s Frozen, has stated that when watching Snow White she makes sure her daughters know about the issue of consent regarding the scene where the prince kisses Snow White while she’s asleep.

On social media, people have been quick to give their views.

Writing on Twitter, Hollie Kenney said: “I grew up on them and my opinions of them have changed over time. The classic ones did have bad role models but recently they have been stronger women. I don’t think kids watching them causes any harm though and it’s the parents’ decision at the end of the day.”

Sally Wadhwa said she does not ban Disney films but makes sure her daughter also get positive messages about the role of women in society.

She said: “Girls can grow to be warriors/scientists/teachers/inventors. My four-year-old is like a sponge, I want her to be inspired.”

But Twitter user Vicki Harrison Neves praised the new wave of Disney princesses such as Moana, saying they have “much stronger characters” and do not rely on a prince to save them.

Another parent, Charmaine Davies, claimed the idea of banning kids from watching was ridiculous.,

“Kids like the songs and the colours!  I call my partner a handsome prince. But I still pay my bills, work and am totally independent!,” she wrote.

Nicole OLoughlin believes the debate holds an important message about feminism: “I also think it brings into question what type of femininity is accepted by a feminist perspective. A lot of feminists at the moment are quick to name the classic Disney princesses as anti-feminist and I really think we need to evaluate this idea.”