Gen­der stereo­types in the Magic King­dom


When you think of Dis­ney, what is the first thing that comes to mind? All the Olafs you have scat­tered around your liv­ing space, de­spite the fact we’re in sum­mer? The pri­vate con­certs of the top movie tunes you per­form in your car? Or those price­less VHS tapes you grabbed from the “Dis­ney vault” just in time, but no longer have any­thing to play them on?

You prob­a­bly don’t au­to­mat­i­cally think about dis­crim­i­na­tion, but one young man in New York did on his first trip to the parks a few months ago.

The third grader named Dex­ter went to Cal­i­for­nia’s Dis­ney­land this spring with his fam­ily, and didn’t like what he saw when it came to race and gen­der. Af­ter re­turn­ing home and talk­ing to a class­mate, he re­al­ized he wasn’t the only one who was an­gry about it. So the two de­cided to write this let­ter to the com­pany: Dear Dis­ney, Like most peo­ple we love your at­trac­tions, but we found some prob­lems with some of them and those prob­lems are stereo­types. Stereo­types are some­thing that some peo­ple be­lieve are true but some­times may not be true. For ex­am­ple say some­body said “girls only like pink,” that’s a stereo­type, some girls might like yel­low and not pink. You can never re­ally judge.

We are third graders from New York City at The Cathe­dral School. We learn about stereo­types and the im­pact they have on peo­ple’s iden­ti­ties. For in­stance, in the jun­gle cruise, all the ro­botic peo­ple have dark skin and are throw­ing spears at you. We think this re­in­forces some neg­a­tive as­so­ci­a­tions, we think you should re­place them with mon­keys throw­ing rot­ten fruit.

We no­ticed that on our trips to Dis­ney­land and Dis­ney World that all the cast mem­bers call peo­ple Prince, Princess, or Knight, judg­ing by what the child “looks like” and as­sum­ing gen­der. We think some feel­ings could get hurt, say by ac­ci­dent you called some­one a Prince who wasn’t a Prince or a Princess, or a Knight, or who was iden­ti­fy­ing dif­fer­ently than what they were called. We sug­gest you say “Hello, Your Roy­alty” in­stead. “I wish I’d had this aware­ness when I first went to Walt Dis­ney World back in 1977. All I knew was that I wanted the pi­rate cos­tume over the princess gown, but didn’t yet un­der­stand why.”

With the Princess Makeovers, we think you are ex­clud­ing other peo­ple who might want a makeover to be some­thing else, in­clud­ing boys and trans­gen­der peo­ple. When we went to the Princess Castle, the char­ac­ters only greeted the peo­ple they thought were vis­it­ing girls, not the vis­it­ing boys and again said “Hi Princess.”

We hope you know we had an awe­some time at Dis­ney and these are sug­ges­tions to make it more in­clu­sive and mag­i­cal for ev­ery­one. Please re­ply and let us know your thoughts. Sin­cerely, Sy­billa and Dex­ter The Cathe­dral School

I wish I’d had this aware­ness when I first went to Walt Dis­ney World back in 1977. All I knew was that I wanted the pi­rate cos­tume over the princess gown, but didn’t yet un­der­stand why.

We are of­ten frus­trated and dis­mis­sive of young peo­ple, as­sum­ing they are too naive to un­der­stand how the world works. On the con­trary, Dex­ter and Sy­billa are great ex­am­ples of how aware they re­ally are. Now let’s see if us old folks, like Dis­ney, can catch up.

(source: www.brain­pick­

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one of the few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

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