A&E: Students appreciate seeing themselves represented in the increasingly diverse Disney princess movies

Disney princesses have served as role models for generations. As Disney princess movies depict the princesses as magical, beautiful and personable, they often influence children at a young age. SCHS students reflected upon the impact the princesses have had on them and the importance of seeing oneself represented in popular characters.

Junior Anika Dontu has been watching Disney princess movies since she was young and looked up to them as a child. She noted the importance of diverse characters and explained that children can benefit from positive role models who look like them.

“I think that everyone wants a role model, and Disney princesses and Disney in general has always been something that people, especially little kids, have looked up to,” Dontu said. “If they see someone like them, it would definitely be something amazing for them to see being like, ‘Wow! I can also be a princess. I can also be someone special.’”

Sophomore Amna Shaukut similarly has admired Disney princesses since she was young. She explained that representation in mainstream media and characters is of great importance.

“I think that when we are little, the first thing we see is Disney princesses because they are so iconic,” Shakut said. “(It’s) kind of like what everybody grows up around, so especially little girls when they see all of these princesses and they feel like a princess, it’s really important that we represent that.”

Sophomore Dania Gizaw believes that Disney princesses have been becoming steadily more diverse and hopes to see more representation with time.

“When the princesses first started out, it was like Snow White and Aurora – the classics – and now they are moving to things with different races and ethnicities and maybe soon they will go to maybe men or the LGBTQ community,” Gizaw said. “It will slowly progress into different backgrounds.”

Freshman Ninya Udinoor also hopes to see more diversity in future Disney movies and believes that representation of minority groups should have been prevalent in the movies long ago.

“Everyone needs representation. If you don’t have representation, how do you have a voice?” Udinoor said. “I think that’s really important because they have a sense of hope and they have someone to relate to instead of just looking at light-skinned people, or people who don’t look like them.”

Senior Katrina Cunha believes that Disney still has many areas where they can improve their representation. They particularly want to see Disney princesses with disabilities, or princesses who are neurodivergent. She believes that seeing herself represented as a person with ADHD would have been beneficial.

“I can’t imagine how amazing it would have been for me as a young girl to see a princess who was maybe a little too loud when she didn’t mean to be, a princess who stimmed, a princess who gets too passionate, maybe is too emotional and maybe struggles with controlling her anger,” Cuhan said. “Being a neurodivergent woman is such a struggle that does not get talked about enough, and it just would have been so amazing as a kid to see.”

Seeing oneself represented can be a validating and exciting experience, especially in characters that are influential to young children. Many SCHS students agree that diverse characters help to make people feel included and seen.

“Any group that is not getting that much attention right now could be represented in Disney princesses, and it could definitely impact the way that younger people think so that they could build a different and better generation in the future,” Udinoor said.