Published on November 5th, 2013 | by Ido Kenan0
Disney Princesses as Disney Wouldn’t Want You to See
To turn human, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid had to give up her tail in return for a pair of legs, and suffer terrible pain, like stabbing of knives, when she walked or danced, but the sea witch promised her she’ll be the prettiest, best dancing human. This can be seen as a feminist metaphor for the unreasonable demands society has of women. In Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid, there’s no mention of said pain – Disney prefers to beautify the fairy tales, strip them clean of horror and add a happy ending for the whole family. In The Trials of Disney Princessdom, illustrator Rayut Siman Tov confronts Disney’s too-perfect princesses and shows them in their human moments, with body defects and the torture of the beauty industry.
“I won’t have them wear prince clothes, or those of Xena or Princess Leia”, Siman Tov wrote on Facebook. “No, no. With me they’ll be the same princesses they always were, albeit a second before the limelight. With me they’ll show us how they turn into princesses, all the gory, behind the scenes details which allow them to be so graceful as if they were in a tampon ad”.
Among the princesses who got de-Disneyfied: Ariel who discovers a zit on her forehead, Snow White who plans on devouring a hamburger when the birds suggest she settle for an apple, Aladdin’s Jasmine threading her upper-lip hair and Cinderella treating her glass-shoes mutilated feet.
“I was inspired by the trend of gender bending, sexual orientation exploring image-sets of Disney princesses and princes, which pushed them out of the heteronormative conditioning borders Disney promotes. It’s fascinating to me”, Siman Tov told Room 404. “But I also wanted to open to discussion the meaning of staying within those borders, what it actually means to be a ‘princess’. When I was little, it was clear to me that a princess is naturally delicate and pretty. As an adult woman, my attitude is a lot more cynical and critical. The understanding slowly dawns that no one is born a princess Even a woman with the ‘right’ genes (which raises another question, what are these right genes and where in the world they’re coming from) won’t be able to stand up to the strict standards with her natural features. The least she would have to do is spend hours removing any sign of hair below the eyelashes. Furthermore, she’ll have to make sure she doesn’t accidentally weigh more than 40 kilos [about 88 pounds, Ed.], that her tits are always perky, that her movements are confined and gentle, and that with all this, the pressure doesn’t inflict zits. So I decided to deconstruct this exact process that we all know takes place behind the scenes. All the painful, disgusting and simply idiotic things that a woman can’t not do without facing very complicated social sanctions”.
Choosing Disney princesses is obvious. “I want to turn the spotlight on what these films do not show children, cos I guess it’s worse than sex and violence: that women have body hair and weight, and that the war against them is a painful one”, she says. “Of course, you can have this discussion solemnly, using academic words, buy I prefer using my illustrations to discuss it with humor and with pastels”.