New Study Reconfirms Dangers of Princess Culture

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Courtesy BYU

Courtesy BYU

Is “princess culture” dangerous? A new study says yes.

Over the past several years there has been renewed debate as to whether exposure to princess-themed media is damaging to young girls, much of it spurred by Peggy Orenstein’s seminal 2011 work Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Now a newly published study from a team at Brigham Young University has found that too much exposure to princesses can be emotionally damaging to young girls.

The study found that 96 percent of girls have viewed media related to Disney princesses, and that 61% of them played with toys from the line at least once a week. The study went on to find that this exposure leads to gender-stereotypical behavior and self-critical body image.

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Courtesy Fanpop

Courtesy Fanpop

Sarah M. Coyne, the lead author of the study, elaborated on the perceived dangerous effects these gender stereotypes can have on young girls:

“We know that girls who strongly adhere to female gender stereotypes feel like they can’t do some things. They’re not as confident that they can do well in math and science. They don’t like getting dirty, so they’re less likely to try and experiment with things.”

Coyne further goes on to elaborate on how princess media can affect body image, explaining that “Disney princesses represent some of the first examples of exposure to the thin ideal.”

Courtesy BYU

Courtesy BYU

Despite those findings, Coyne does believe some princess play can be part of a healthy childhood.

“I’d say, have moderation in all things,” said Coyne. “Have your kids involved in all sorts of activities, and just have princesses be one of many, many things that they like to do and engage with.”

The researcher goes on to claim that she practices what she preaches, saying her work on the study has changed how she communicates with her own daughter.

“This study has changed the way I talk to my daughter, the things I focus on, and it’s been really good for me as a parent to learn from this study. I usually can’t say that my research findings have such a personal impact on my life,” she said.

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