Images of ten real-life influential women Disney-ified was released in May of this year, following the Disney Princess glamorization of Brave’s Merida. Though with the exclusive interview on Women You Should Know with artist David Trumble, the “World of Women” collection has gone viral. Trumble explains the impetus for this project:
“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.”
The reaction has been all over the board. Some, who did not understand Trumble’s satirical take of how ridiculous it is that role models for girls should fit into one mold, reacted negatively. Others have enthusiastically embraced the glammed up version of amazing women like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and hoped that dolls would be made in their sparkly image. Others were outraged that Anne Frank was labeled “Holocaust Princess.” (She has since been renamed “Diary Princess” because she is influential not because of her terrible death at the hands of Nazis but for her brave and beautiful writing.)
I myself am somewhere in the middle: I think David Trumble makes an excellent point. Role models for girls are far too often sparkled, slimmed, homogenized, and hyper-sexualized. At a young age girls are already being exposed to the impossible body structure of Barbie and fairytale romances — needing a man to rescue them. At the same time, it is hard to deny that princesses appeal to little girls. And wouldn’t it be awesome if you could give them feminist Princess Gloria Steinem or Civil Rights Movement hero Princess Rosa Parks to play with, rather than the inert and dull Sleeping Beauty?