This is a recent development.
I’m sat in one of my usual desk chairs and researching a topic of newfound interest to me: intersectionality. The layered identities of identity politics curl up and sit beneath my rib bones where I, a bi-racial woman of color with a seat on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, need a magnifying class to find someone, anyone at all, who somewhat relates to me. That’s not to say I can’t relate to, say, Raven Baxter on That’s So Raven because she deals with race dynamics and prejudice, but she also isn’t biracial. Or Gay. I often feel that, each day, I must choose a category to be that day. I can relate to general women movements, but I know they don’t speak for me. I can push for LGBTQ+ rights, but I know stigma is escalated for those of color. I can speak Spanish to help customers at work, but they won’t think to look at a girl with a darker complexion and no accent.
And, I mean, the media is getting better. A Wrinkle in Time, premiering when I was at the slight age of twenty, was the first time I saw not only a biracial couple, but a mixed child on the big screen. I watched it to be able to live what others can – where they sit in the theater and see themselves as the main character. Obviously, the film is not 100% realistic, but it could be for a girl like me.
My nitty gritty is this: Disney Princesses. My current research within intersectionality evaluates the Disney Princess franchise.
For example, Cinderella is a lower-class maid who works for food and shelter within her stepmother’s basement. Once Cinderella finds her prince and they marry, Cinderella gives no recognition to her previous class location or her current class. While she disguised herself and danced among others of royalties, Cinderella gave no acknowledgement that her shoes were made of house slippers and her dress was a dirt rag while the woman next to her had earrings that cost more than Cinderella’s last 47 meals combined. With a princess who came from the lower class, you would think she would be a role model, or at least more influential, to young girls who reside in the lower class. But Cinderella, who continues to be a household name, an original Disney Princess, and a money maker for the Disney Princess franchise, never once identifies as a part of any class. Her class location seems to have started and continues to be just “royalty”.
Another example would be the lovely Princess Jasmine, who is handed off to the movie’s villain as a sex object and a key to ruling the city. Jasmine, who appears disgusted with Jafaar, is not too pleased with her savior, Aladdin, because of his class location. Jasmine ends up marrying him and then continues her life in the upper class, never acknowledging that Aladdin lived off the streets eating scraps of food for years. Jasmine never questions Aladdin’s lifestyle, as if being homeless is just another place to be, or the power structures and politics directed at Aladdin.
This is a developing interest topic that I am trying (!!) to expand as a potential thesis.
Okay thanks for listening to me ramble I just want a Disney Princess who looks like me