Empowering Girls: Princess Culture Examined

Ever wonder how and why the Disney Princess Culture distorted and minimized girlness, leaving girls as the extra character or one that desperately needs to be saved?

My film-maker friend, Aaron Lea, sent me this rejection letter to a Mary V. Ford from Disney dated 1938. It states that she should not bother sending her portfolio because the creative talent is, by company policy, men.

Which does help explain how the Disney Princess Girl Culture became so distructive and minimizing to girls.

Dear Miss Ford:

. . . .

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with pain according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as “Inker” or “Painter” it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and in and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there really are very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,

Walt Disney Productions, LTD.

Aaron explained how during World War II Disney was put in a position, like most companies, to need women artists, which is how one of his creative idols was given some creative power. Here is a story on Mouseplanet about how women came to work at Disney.

“Mary Blair was an art supervisor and designer at Disney when they were at their highest level of brilliancy. Disney optioned to use her artwork for storybooks versions of certain films in place of stills, said Lea.

“Blair’s influence can still be found today (she inspires a lot of us creative types). The opening credits for Monsters, Inc. is definitely an homage to her, as well as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” Lea pointed out.

To illustrate Blair’s influence Lea shares a sample of Blair’s work and a sample of his own.
blair art.jpg I Can Fly illustration Mary Blair.

aaron pink carriage.jpgClaudia Carey illustration Aaron Lea.

There is an article In New York Entertainment examining whether things are that much different at Disney in 2008 than they were in 1938. “The IMDb credits for Disney’s latest No. 1 movie, Ratatouille, list 26 separate animators — of whom exactly zero appear based on first names to be women,” they cite. To check the fact, here is a link to the entire credits. Two female story participants were given the glorious titles of “additional story material,” indicative of their involvement.

Over a rainy weekend my daughter and I rented Enchanted. Disney’s newest version of it’s own princess tales. Tune in tomorrow for analysis of Disney’s new generation of Princess film.

The main premises of the Geena Davis Institute is that when there are more women involved in the creative process of film and television it results in more empowering girl characters.

What can YOU do to ensure more girls are included in children’s media?

  • Make a video. The GDIGM has a YouTube project asking for people to get behind a camera and notify the film and media industry,

    I Want To See Jane! 

  • Donate money to the GDIGM so they can wine, dine and educate the film makers who do influence our daughters.
  • GDIGM is running a contest for girls. They invite all girls/women 13-26 to make a Video Ad citing the organizations research points. Someone has to win – why not your daughter? Go to the < site to learn more.
For more about how exactly Disney Princess Culture really is anti-girl read on:

Cinderella Should Have Saved Her Self

Ariel – The Little Mute

Belle – Battered Codependent

Over a rainy weekend my daughter and I rented Enchanted. Disney’s newest version of it’s own princess tales. Tune in tomorrow for analysis of Disney’s new generation of Princess film.
Image of Mary Ford’s Disney rejection letter.

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