Animating Gender Roles

Disney slide

In “Animating Gender Roles: How Disney is Redefining the Modern Princess,” author Juliana Garabedian examines the Disney Princess franchise, from Snow White and Cinderella all the way to Merida and Anna.

Her essay divides the Princess line into three categories, analyzing their parallels with three waves in feminism to argue that the female characters created by Disney reflect and sometimes even reinforce gender roles. Garabedian’s careful analysis and research suggests that children—and their parents—almost literally buy into the Princess mythology: “children take social cues from what they see on screen, so playing with figurines after a movie has created a concept reinforces these ideas through repetition.”  But there’s good news: recent Princess films in what Garabedian terms the “Progression period” abandon the “princess-needs-prince” pattern in favor of independent, brave, and heroic female leads.

For Garabedian, writing and then revising “Animating Gender Roles” was itself a transformative process: "JMURJ gave me the opportunity to write something better . . . . [I]f you learn from revisions and work toward the end goal of bettering yourself as a writer, it’s worth it in the end." Now, she says, “In addition to being able to show that I’m contributing to the writing community, I get to show my friends and family what I’ve been working toward for the past four years."


Garabedian, from West Chester, Pennsylvania, will graduate this spring with a major in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication and a minor in Creative Writing. In addition to her interest in professional writing, she enjoys writing novels and non-fiction essays. Cosmopolitan recently featured Garabedian’s work as a finalist for their 2014 fiction contest. Garabedian  plans to attend graduate school at JMU and eventually pursue a career in publishing or corporate communication.

Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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