This week I want to go over some of the favorite Disney princess movies and take a look at the messages in them in regard to whether they help or hurt the ongoing fight against human exploitation.
Movie Title: Aladdin
Does this movie inspire girls to be stronger or more vulnerable? Vulnerable
The story in a nutshell:
Girl feels restricted and restless
Runs away and meets a thief on the streets
Thief is really good guy at heart; they live happily ever after
Jasmine, another heroine without a mother, has a childlike and foolish father who is totally unaware and therefore you sympathize with Jasmine’s desire to get out and discover herself and her dreams.
Jasmine runs away and her first day on the streets meets a good-looking guy who is a thief, lies to her continuously throughout the movie, and yet he’s got a heart of gold and turns out to the handsome prince in disguise. It’s not hard to see the big problems here.
Predators’ main targets are runaways. They wait and watch the buses, looking for the “backpack” kids, who get off the bus with just a backpack, looking lost and helpless. Girls who really do run away to the streets often don’t becomes heroines in a beautiful love story. They become victims.
The US Dept. of Health and Social Services website states, “Girls who run from their homes, group homes, foster homes, or treatment centers, are at great risk of being targeted by a pimp (or trafficker) and becoming exploited. Research consistently confirms the correlation between running away and becoming exploited through prostitution.”
As much as I’d like the world to work like the movie, it doesn’t. Kids need to know enough of the dangers out there to not find Jasmine’s experience appealing. They need to know running away doesn’t lead to happily ever after.
How to counter the messages in Aladdin:
Let’s teach them:
1. That a guy who lies to you and manipulates you does not deserve your respect.
2. That predators target girls in exactly the situation Jasmine is in. Some statistics say that within 48 hours, a runaway is approached 2-3 times by a pimp (and he doesn’t appear threatening, but rather offers to help her, fix her problems, love her, etc.).
3. To spend time with a man and know his character before entrusting their heart, not to assume that if he’s good-looking, his heart must be good too. (Here it is again.)