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Princess Cultures

Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities

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Edited By Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca C. Hains

Princesses today are significant figures in girls’ culture in the United States and around the world. Although the reign of girls’ princess culture has generated intense debate, this anthology is the first to bring together international and interdisciplinary perspectives on the multitude of princess cultures, continuously redrawn and recast by grownups and girls from the Ancien Régime to the New Millennium. Essays critically examine the gendered, racialized, classed, and ethnic meanings of royal figures and fairytale and pop culture princesses inscribed in folk tales, movies, cartoons, video games, dolls, and imitated in play and performance. Focusing on the representation and reception of the princess, this collection sheds new light on the position of princess cultures mediating the lives, imaginations, and identities of girls from toddlers to teenagers – and beyond.
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Chapter Two: Applying for the Position of Princess: Race, Labor, and the Privileging of Whiteness in the Disney Princess Line

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 CHAPTER TWO

Applying for the Position of Princess: Race, Labor, and the Privileging of Whiteness in the Disney Princess Line

MEGAN CONDIS

Princesses have become ubiquitous in popular culture products aimed at girls. And while it is true that princesses have always had a place in the medium of animation (according to Amy Davis [2007], the first woman ever to be featured in an animated cartoon was the Princess of Slumberland in the animated adaptation of Windsor McKay’s popular comic strip, Little Nemo in Dreamland ), the new millennium finds audiences drowning in tulle and tiaras. Thrones and scepters are being added to nearly every girl-friendly franchise on the toy store shelves, from Barbie to Dora the Explorer, the formerly “intrepid, dirty-kneed adventurer” who now occasionally sports a “satin gown” and “hair that grows or shortens when her crown is touched” (Orenstein 2006, para. 8). And, of course, there is the fairest franchise of them all: the Disney Princess line, whose more than 40,000 pink and purple products (Giroux and Pollock 2010) earn billions for the Disney corporation. In the wake of this royal blitz it is important for media scholars to examine the ways in which animated princesses help to shape (and are shaped by) discourses of gender and race. After all, these products market princesshood as the ultimate distillation of perfect femininity that good girls dream about. Therefore, it is important to consider whether or not all little girls can access that...

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