10 Terrible Lessons Disney Princesses Taught Us About Life

Disney movies and their princesses are something that most of us naturally associate with childhood – especially girls. If you were born female in the US, you most likely had a small collection of videos featuring Disney princesses like Belle, Snow White, or Cinderella. Those movies sure were wholesome, right? Well, sorta. The morals that you get out of them aren’t exactly as good as parents assume they’d be. Let’s take a look at some of the evidence as to why Disney princesses teach girls BS life lessons.

  1. Belle is in an abusive relationship, and she stays because she thinks she can change him. The Beast would intimidate Belle, was openly verbally abusive, and wouldn’t let her leave. If that was a guy in a wifebeater, people would immediately peg him as the villain since it’d be a clear, stereotypical case of abuse. If you found out your friend was imprisoned by their “lover,” you’d probably pull a Gaston and try to rescue her, too! The big moral most people take away from Beauty and the Beast is BS and dangerous. Abusers, in real life, do not change. Girls can’t change them, and those who stick around to try to do so will end up shells of their former selves or dead. If a more real, happy ending were to have happened, Belle would have escaped, the Beast’s final rose petal would have fallen, and Gaston would have ended up with Belle.
  2. The “reward” is always marriage and kids. Why can’t it be something more awesome, like an awesome career, or being able to keep that neat-o pumpkin stagecoach in Cinderella? Why do they always end up being validated by a guy’s affection for them?
  3. It’s all about aesthetics without substance.  One exec by the name of Andy Hendrickson was quoted as saying, “The story isn’t good, but the visual spectacle brought people in droves.” He was talking about the nightmarishly poorly written remake of Alice in Wonderland, there. All those new Disney movies featuring princesses after their first blockbuster adventure are basically fluff pieces with little to no attention to plot.
  4. You’re never too young to start looking for Mr. Right. Remember: at the end of the movie, they all get married and run off into the sunset with their version of Prince Charming. Some of them are as young as 14. Those are child brides, people. That is beyond creepy.
  5. Snow White had some random stranger kiss her while she was sleeping, and it’s somehow considered to be romantic.  If you were passed out, I can guarantee you that you would want to beat the snot out of any stranger who just started making out with you to wake you up. It’s not romantic, it’s sexual assault.
  6. Half of the time, the princesses don’t even really get to know these princes before they decide to marry them.  Almost every Disney Princess ever:  “Oh, awesome! This prince guy who may have abused me/kissed me when I was comatose/lied to me and my family/tried to take my family’s land wants to bone me! He may have saved my life or assaulted me, so I should totally dig this dude!” Barely knowing anything about who you’re marrying does not a happy marriage make. In all reality, couples that had met and married via Disney princess methods would have all the staying power of reality TV marriages – if even that.
  7. They never have bad hair. Ever. Long flowing locks? Even when wet? Even when covered in snow? Yeah, no. That doesn’t happen at all in real life – even if you’re using brand-name shampoo. Rapunzel would totally just have a single long, dried out, dirty dreadlock by the end of the movie. They didn’t have conditioner back then, ya know. And keratin? They wish! Ariel? Well, she would have pretty soaked hair in that famous wave splash scene.
  8. The biggest takeaway seems to be the lesson that beauty equals morality. Ever notice how many of those Disney villains look old, fat, or otherwise ugly? If you follow the Disney princess guide to life, just booking an appointment for a nosejob can make you a better person.
  9. They really emphasized the purity thing. In reality, most women aren’t going to be pure, delicate creatures that sing to woodland critters throughout the day. No one is perfect, and if they don’t live a little, they will end up being emotionally stunted, sorry excuses for human beings later on. That being said, keeping Disney princesses perfectly pure while also keeping “sexy proportions” and hooking them up with guys doesn’t send the right message. Could we at least see a princess or two drink beer at a tavern like Gaston?
  10. Disney villains really seemed to be cooler, anyway. They may not have been totally good people, but you have to admit that they had it going on. Maleficent was smart as heck, confident, and a career woman. Cruella DeVil, though not a villain who went tete-a-tete with a princess, was a successful fashion mogul. Ursula told it like it is, and actually called out the double standard on beauty that society has. She’s also a spectacular businesswoman that could probably make the Wolf of Wall Street cry. Let’s just be honest here. The Disney princesses are all basically living off the princes they all married. They’re not going to be able to give you shrewd advice in business, talk kickass fashion, or straight shoot like the villainesses could. If I was a Disney character, you can bet I’d be chillin’ with Ursula.
  11. The Bottom Line. Disney princesses do not have anything to do with reality, and at times, it scares me how much little girls expect to live a Disney movie life these days. Though I can totally get the allure of the princess thing, the truth is that everyone would be better off with a more realistic outcome in Disney films – at least once in a while.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.