Many parents would know the feeling of watching Disney Princess movies with their daughters, and secretly bemoaning the lack of strong female role models on screen.
Aurora in Sleeping Beauty is the epitome of complete passiveness – in fact, she’s so passive, she asleep. Ariel in The Little Mermaid gives up her voice for the chance of snagging a man. And Snow White – well, the evil witch is a lot more memorable.
That’s where artist David Trumble comes in. He has created Disney Princess versions of real life women – both modern and historical figures – that girls could be looking up to instead. Check them out in the gallery below.
But Trumble’s goal wasn’t necessarily that he wanted to get young girls interested in Supreme Court Justices. Instead, he wanted to highlight how unnecessary it was that all female characters aimed at kids all look the same. He was inspired by the ‘Merida makeover’ scandal, that Mamamia has written about before.
In a statement to Women You Should Know, Trumble said:
This was a response to the furor kicked up over the glossy ‘princessification’ of Pixar’s Merida character, both in image and doll form. I drew this picture because I wanted to analyze how unnecessary it is to collapse a heroine into one specific mold, to give them all the same sparkly fashion, the same tiny figures, and the same homogenized plastic smile.
My experience of female role models both in culture and in life has shown me that there is no mold for what makes someone a role model, and the whole point of Merida was that she was a step in the right direction, providing girls with an alternative kind of princess. Then they took two steps back, and painted her with the same glossy brush as the rest. So I decided to take 10 real-life female role models, from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and filter them through the Disney princess assembly line.
The result was this cartoon, which earned equal parts praise and ire from readers. Some didn’t get the joke, some disagreed with it, others saw no harm in it at all and wanted to buy the doll versions of them… it was a polarizing image, but I suppose that’s the point. The statement I wanted to make was that it makes no sense to put these real-life women into one limited template, so why then are we doing it to our fictitious heroines?
Some love Trumble’s cartoons – and other hate on them.
On the one hand, there seems to be no question that kids are interested in things that are, for the most part, brightly coloured and aesthetically pleasing. If you have to Disney-ify a real life figure to get kids interested in their accomplishments, does that matter?
On the other hand, Trumble’s aim was to show that’s it’s not necessary to make all female heroines look the same – and there is something deeply uncomfortable about looking at a Disney Princess Version of Anne Frank.
What do you think? Do these images make the point that women should be not be forced into one aesthetic ideal? Or do you actually like the images, and think they would be good for kids?