The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Disney Princesses’ critics told: Let it go!

- By Padraic Flanagan

DISNEY princesses such as Elsa from Frozen do not damage young girls’ self-esteem and ‘may be a powerful force for good’, according to research.

US academics studied more than 300 girls and boys to discover how ‘princess culture’ affected attitudes over time towards gender stereotype­s, body esteem and masculinit­y.

Previous research had suggested the fictional characters promoted negative female stereotype­s by indoctrina­ting girls at a young age.

The study’s author, Sarah Coyne, of Utah’s Brigham Young University, questioned nursery-age children and their parents about their interest in films and toys featuring current Disney princesses such as Elsa, Rapunzel and Moana.

They were then given questionna­ires five years later. ‘Overall, we found that princess culture tended to have a small but positive impact on child developmen­t over time,’ said Dr Coyne. ‘Higher engagement with princess culture during the preschool period was associated with holding more progressiv­e attitudes about women, particular­ly for girls.’

Commentato­rs suggest the latest generation of princess films have become more feminist and are moving from traditiona­l gender roles.

Dr Coyne added: ‘Girls who were highly engaged with princess culture were more likely to view educationa­l opportunit­ies, relationsh­ips and careers as being equally important for men and women.’

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