The Disney princesses and the concept of princesses in general are so important to today’s young girls. Instead of Disney using that influence to represent and present a healthy, positive and realistic lifestyle and body image, what little girls see instead are unattainable physical attributes. Shouldn’t society try and present realistic princesses to represent the average girl? Would part of the fantasy of fairytales and cartoons be lost with such lifelike depictions of women, or would a more accurate portrayal be even more popular with our smallest princesses?
Little girls are usually attracted to the princess characters they read about or see, so when Disney combined all their princesses together in a little group, little girls everywhere were in heaven. When you see all of the Disney princesses collectively you see that they are all rather thin. Snow White begins the group at a fairly normal body size and instead of growing larger or maintaining the same size and shape the princesses slowly start to disappear. The Disney Princess character that comes closest to representing an average or normal body size is Nani from Lilo and Stitch, but she doesn’t classify as a princess. Because Nani wasn’t a princess and was never really emulated by young girls like the other princesses, she never became that popular and therefore the desire to be like her never became popular. What if one of the princesses was overweight? Could that be seen as representing an unhealthy lifestyle and an unhealthy body image for women? Why must they all be so thin and unrealistic looking?
Since the Barbie Doll was so hugely popular, it was only a matter of time that the shape and style of Barbie would morph into other popular women, and the Disney Princesses too took on Barbie’s shape. Barbie was the original tall, thin fashion doll and then other similar dolls were born Skipper, Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, Aurora, Snow White, Pocahontas, Mulan and many others. The popularity of this doll covers the globe. Two Barbie dolls are purchased every second. The doll’s popularity is unquestionable. It only makes sense that the power of Disney and the power of Barbie would come together to create a money-making, little girl influencing kingdom.
With all of these questions comes another question; what is the size of an average woman in the United States. There are lots of different opinions, but most come to the conclusion that the average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall, around 140 pounds and wears a size 14. We all know from shopping for clothes that one standard of measurement doesn’t exist when it comes to clothes so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is a size 14. But it is easy to picture a woman who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds – you could possibly be one. The average woman’s bust is between 36 inches and 37 inches which is a B cup and the average waist is between 30 inches and 34 inches, with hips that measure 40 inches to 42 inches. Unfortunately these measurements are not replicated in the Barbie dolls that our youth are playing with. If the Princess Belle or Cinderella doll that your daughter plays with were to have the same measurements as a real woman she’d have to be 7’2″ and 101 pounds and a size 4. Her bust would be 39 inches which would be a FF cup, her waist would be 19 inches which just happens to be the same circumference as her head and her hips would be 33 inches. These measurements aren’t attainable by humans. In order to have the same proportions as a Princess Ariel doll the average American woman would have to be 24 inches taller, 6 inches smaller in the waist, 5 inches bustier and have a neck 3 inches longer.
If a real Princess Jasmine actually had the doll’s body she’d only have half a liver and a few inches of intestine. It is necessary that humans have multiple feet of intestines so that they can properly digest what they eat. With only a few inches of intestine, Princess Jasmine would be on the toilet a lot with chronic diarrhea and overall malnutrition. She also wouldn’t be able to support her own head due to a neck double the size of the average human’s and she’d have to walk or crawl on all fours because her large chest would cause her to fall forward and her small feel wouldn’t be able to support her.
The manufacturers of popular toys such as Disney, Mattel and others have the means by which to promote a healthy lifestyle and good self-esteem for our youth. But instead, they contribute to an impossible body image for young girls, and seem to ignore the possible harm that it can and does cause. Is the answer to have more accurately proportioned princess dolls and Barbies? Is the solution to represent all sizes, shapes, colors and ethnicities within these very influential plastic replicas of us? Is there ever going to be a role model that satisfies everyone’s expectations or is it all based on the individual? The specific solution isn’t clear, but what is clear is that there is an incredible foundation for someone to change the unrealistic and unattainable body image being presented to young girls, so who’s going to be the first? And will it sell?