Cinderella Taught Me: Did The Disney Princesses Set You Up To Fail In Your Relationship?
Growing up we all loved watching Disney classics like Snow White, Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid. Behind every classic was a lesson in love. At a young age, people are fed cultural norms, language and actions that are categorized as love. For example, in fairy tales, a villain tries to break apart the princess and her prince Charming. This formula often depicted relationships as isolating, encouraging an “us against the world” mentality characterized by an unwavering sense of loyalty that we long for in reality without realizing the many layers and time required by that level of commitment.
Usually the finger is pointed at women, Disney, and even Barbie for the unrealistic framework of relationships they perpeturate. Granted, we never hear what men say about their own misconceptions of romance due to fairy tales. Aaron Anderson of The Good Men Project states in his article, 5 Ways Disney Movies Are Bad For Married Men:
The worst part for men about the Princess movies are how the men are objectified. Everyone knows that women are objectified by men through their physical appearance, but men are just as objectified by women. Instead of physical appearance, women objectify men by the way men make them feel. They want a man who sweeps them off their feet, gives them love, passion, and rescues them from any danger. It doesn’t matter who the man is or what his hobbies are—as long as the man treats them like a princess.
Before you raise your pitch forks; it is true. Women have been socialized to believe men should take care of their every need. They must meet women where they are emotionally located at all times, provide financially and swoon them off their feet no matter the season. When one is raised with these expectations, room is not left to think about the personhood of your actual partner. It becomes a selfish cycle of “what can you do for me” and unfortunately when a need is not met, a grade ‘F’ may land on a man’s romantic report card.
It’s the man’s responsibility somehow to give women happily ever after. Yes, spouses should try to help each other achieve happiness, but the movies would lead you think that it’s the man’s responsibility to do this. After all, the damsel didn’t find happiness until after she found a husband.
Any of the Disney princesses can tell you, they all led routinely boring lives in royalty or rags and the excitement in it picked up when they locked eyes with their one and only. In recent years, some princesses have had their own before their man came riding in on a horse with pretty shoes in tote but they were never as passionate about life as they were about love. Because love is in constant flux due to life changes, women often become confused when their partner does not exhibit the qualities of the said Prince Charming. Through these movies, children were given the perception that love is enough. Yes, through a good foundation it can push through any turmoil but it does not work through enamored feelings, flowers and good sex. As a marriage counselor Aaron Anderson, created a list of the five wrong messages these movies set us up to fail for relationships.
1 )It’s not a man’s responsibility to make his wife live happily ever after
2) Men aren’t always charming. Men have bad days.
3) Men aren’t always courageous and brave.
4) Men don’t fix every little problem.
5) Men aren’t simply for marrying and making their wife’s dreams comes true.
This list told the rainbows, butterflies and unicorns to exit stage left. For men to not be expected to create a happily ever after lifestyle, or be in a consistent good moods goes against everything we have seen. And what we see, we take on as our truth. When in fact a woman’s truth is her intuition, passions and life she creates for herself. The Prince Charming mold is not for everyone nor is it real. A man can be an introvert but kills it in the kitchen and other places. Or he can be filled with charisma to push a woman past her safe views of the world. Whoever a woman shares her life with, it is important for her to create one where her partner feels happy to be a part of, on any given day. You may not agree but instead of raising voices, how can women promote a healthier perception of love to the young girls coming up after them, (without male bashing)?