When most people think of princess stories, they automatically think of a love story. They think of a story that begins with “once upon a time” and ends with “happily ever after,” and everything in between involves a girl in need being saved by an unusually handsome guy, leading them to fall in love. This is the prominent story plot for most Disney Princess movies. However, Disney’s 2016 campaign, “Dream Big, Princess,” disregards this stereotypical idea that girls’ identities revolve around finding a man, and instead recognizes their “incredible stories and qualities that help them achieve their dreams.” The campaign consists of a variety of aspects intended to reach as many children as possible. For instance, there are ads played on Disney channel, short documentaries on girls who have dreamt big on Disney Resort TVs, and a new Instagram account for the princesses (@TheDisneyPrincesses). Ultimately, the goal of the “Dream Big, Princess” campaign is “to inspire girls and kids around the world to realize their full potential and dream big.”
I noticed this new perspective of the Disney Princesses when I came across @TheDisneyPrincesses on Instagram a few months ago. I find it extremely empowering and inspiring how the commonly overlooked characteristics of the princesses, such as intelligence, courage, work ethic, kindness, and others, are brought to the center of attention and then directly related to the everyday lives of girls (the video above demonstrates this concept). I believe this is an attempt to help girls have confidence in their identities, affirming their qualities by showing them that a princess has those qualities too. In Karen Coats’ Keywords essay on “Identity,” she discusses how literature helps to ensure “particular identity structures are validated” during childhood, which is believed to be “crucial for children.” I believe that, although it is not written text, the “Dream Big, Princess” campaign is doing exactly this for young girls around the world. This is important to do because it allows girls to have confidence in their developing identities and helps them to not “feel invisible.” (Page 111)
One character from this course that I believe relates to this campaign is Kit, in Read All About It!: A Kit Classic. She, like each princess, has a unique identity that cannot be recognized in the general love story plot of a fairy tale. Her unique identity is evident when she isn’t fond of her pretty pink room that her mother made for her, enjoys writing but her mother doesn’t like her to leave her typewriting sitting somewhere it’s visible, and doesn’t share Ruthie’s love for make believe princess stories. Kit embodies what the “Dream Big, Princess” campaign is all about – being yourself. The difference is that Kit has no fictional validation for her characteristics. She is skeptical of the “make believe” and instead looks to real people, such as Amelia Earhart, to relate her identity to. Perhaps if the princess stories Ruthie loved so much embraced the individual qualities of the princesses like this campaign does, rather than the magical story line, Kit could’ve related to at least one of them and found joy in knowing her identity was also encourages in the “make believe.” There may have not been a princess for Kit, but now, thanks to Disney’s “Dream Big, Princess,” there is hopefully a Disney princess for every girl to affirm her identity through.