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the evolution of the image of women in Disney films

In recent decades, movies disney have shown a evolution in the representation of women, considering changing social contexts and adopting a more conscious perspective. From animated classics to the most recent productions, the image of women has managed to leave behind outdated stereotypes to embrace a more inclusive and empowered narrative.

He academic in Latin American literature and film animation, Alejandro Martínezshared with El Mostrador Braga his analysis of this phenomenon, outlining three crucial stages.

Vulnerability and submission

In the decades of 1920s and 1930s, witnessed the arrival of the first short films and animated films. Snow White, the first Disney princess, represented the vulnerability, a woman protected by seven dwarfs and rescued by the prince’s kiss.

Martínez points out: “In that iconic scene Now we see a kiss as non-consensual, where the prince took advantage of Snow White while she was unconscious.”

In the article “Has Disney become feminist? A new model of empowered princesses”, Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora are described as characters who they reinforce “a model of women linked to the social construction of sexualized identities based on a clear relationship of oppression”. A pattern stands out idealized beauty (white, thin and delicate women) and a dependence on male protection.

Relative empowerment

A second stage occurs in the nineties. Somewhat more deconstructed women appear in films like The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Mulan. These characters reflect greater independence, although still influenced by a relationship with male characters.l

“Mulan is brave, almost as strong as a man.” and Bella is an intellectual young woman who takes charge of a hypertoxic masculinity,” described the expert. He also explained how despite showing women further away from dependency and submission, the rhetoric of love and happy endings continues.

A new era of princesses

Finally, the transformation intensifies with more recent productions such as Moana, Raya and the last dragon, Tangled, Frozen and Brave. The protagonists lead their stories challenging cultural stereotypes, demonstrating that female power is diverse and multifaceted.

Disney is also open to explore family relationships and female friendships more significant, such as the relationship mother and daughter in Brave or the sisters in Frozen, moving away from the narrative focused solely on the romance between man and woman.

The document published by the University of the Basque Country by audiovisual communicator, Delicia Aguado and the philologist, Patricia Martínez, emphasizes that these new women “completely break with the established model”, empowering themselves through the vindication, revaluation and visibility of the feminine.

The authors warn about the importance of do not neglect expressions of symbolic violence in children’s education and entertainment, since inequality is normalized from childhood.

Martínez, for his part, highlighted the impact of cinema as a tool that, although not pedagogically designed, teaches behaviors. “Today Disney recognizes the historical flaws in the representation of women and tries to compensate for them. In the last films there has been a kind of ‘face wash’ and they recognize that they must now represent more diversity“he commented.

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