Role Models Re-Imagined As Disney Princesses Will Have You Perplexed


This art project, depicting contemporary and past female role-models has generated a lot of discussion since it made its way over to these parts.

Here’s what the artist, David Trumble, had to say about the project, via Women You Should Know.

“This was a response to the furor kicked up over the glossy ‘princessification’ of Pixar’s Merida character, both in image and doll form. I drew this picture because I wanted to analyze how unnecessary it is to collapse a heroine into one specific mold, to give them all the same sparkly fashion, the same tiny figures, and the same homogenized plastic smile.
“My experience of female role models both in culture and in life has shown me that there is no mold for what makes someone a role model, and the whole point of Merida was that she was a step in the right direction, providing girls with an alternative kind of princess. Then they took two steps back, and painted her with the same glossy brush as the rest. So I decided to take 10 real-life female role models, from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and filter them through the Disney princess assembly line.”

OK. I like what he’s getting at. Trumble, who collaborated on the project with psycologist Lori Day, also said he’s well aware that the images are polarizing.

The statement I wanted to make was that it makes no sense to put these real-life women into one limited template, so why then are we doing it to our fictitious heroines?

When we have companies like Disney who pretend to be our best friends by giving us ‘strong female characters’ like Merida, then suddenly do a 180 and revert to their old ways, it’s good to do something to hold their feet to the fire. We need to remind them that they can’t pull the old bait-and-switch when it comes to portraying female characters. I think the project does a great job of demonstrating how reductive that ‘princessification’ process is.

But a cartoon Malala? A sparkly, shiny cartoon princess Anne Frank? In a glittery dress? ‘Polarzing’ doesn’t begin to describe the ramifications of using women who basically defined entire movements in history and Feminism in imagery like this.

What do you think? Is he really getting his point across with these images? Or does it just come off as as a misfire for you?

Images via David Trumble

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