Beauty And Behavioral Standards And Disney Programs

1516 words - 6 pages

When discussing the definition of beauty in today’s society, thin, fair-skinned, and long-haired are all words that are agreeably in the top five adjectives used. These standards of beauty tend to be engraved in brains of children, teens, adults, Americans, Asians, Europeans, men, women, and etc. all day every day. These ideals are portrayed through television commercials, billboards, newspaper ads and all other forms of media, such as Disney channel programs. Behavioral norms are also a major topic depicted in Disney channel programs; these programs depict that certain races, social classes and genders behave in certain ways, some which are sometimes stereotypical. These ideals are targeted to children who are “reaching an age where they are developing an awareness of self and comparing that self to the ideals presented in the media” (Northup and Liebler 268). At what point do we question by whose standard is this normal? Are we supposed to continuously live in this box of subjectivity and suffer while trying to reach this “standard?” Is this standard really a standard or cultural norm? It is said that these depictions shape the behaviors and actions of children and affect their self-esteem and self-image, but that is not always true. Most children in today’s society are mature enough to differentiate between television and reality.
At a young age, I can recall watching Disney Channel regularly; I remember the countless movies from The Little Mermaid to Zenon. As a child, I saw the ideals being presented, but I did not recognize or understand the message that was being sent through the characters in these movies. I did not understand why I questioned my darker skin tone or four-foot frame or tomboyish ways until I was in my late teenage years. Studies show that “children’s self-image and identity formation are shaped in some degree by exposure to images found in written texts, illustrations and films” (Hurley 221). A lot of children base how they feel about the way they look off of what characters on television look like. They also compare their living situations, social class and their family’s status to that of the characters in these movies, television shows and books. Fairytales are the oldest existing genre of children’s literature and Disney has put a face to many of these tales. Disney’s princesses such as Mulan, Cinderella and Belle are all Caucasian or fair-skinned, tall and slender with straight, white teeth, long eyelashes, nails and hair. This sends the message that in order to be a beautiful princess you must look like this. It is typical for children to watch these movies or read these books with the pictures of these women and desire to look like or only want to play with dolls that look like this.
Several Disney programs, like The Proud Family, portray different races and give each race stereotypical behaviors and physical features. The Proud Family is full of racist and negative stereotypes masked by slapstick humor. The...

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