The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Disney Princesses’ critics told: Let it go!
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.’