The Modern Princesses: Do we have Disney to thank for the likes of Paris Hilton?

I walked by a magazine rack yesterday and on two covers I saw the smiling face of Lauren Conrad. Other than being on a The Hills, can someone please tell me what she has done and why we should care?

Lauren Conrad on the October issue of Elle

This column isn’t going to be about the trash on reality TV. I’m not judging we the viewers. I love Jersey Shore as much as “The Situation” loves 8-minute-abs, but as I understand it, Ms. Conrad was the sane one on her show, when compared to Heidi and Spencer, so she wasn’t even great train-wreck TV.

So that leaves me wondering why she deserves to be on the covers of magazines. The editors obviously thought her image would sell copies. (FAIL: I didn’t buy the magazines to find out if she actually has a soul, but it’s likely I wouldn’t find that in the pages of Elle anyway). Just because she was on an MTV reality show says nothing for her talent, intelligence, ambition or character. Other than her looks, what does she contribute? And when did we decide that by looking pretty alone, you can be successful and loved?

She is in the same category as Paris, Nicole, Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Holly, Bridget and Kendra. And judging by the ratings, I’m not the only one watching their shows.

Kim and Paris. Pretty, yes. But starring roles in sex tapes don't make you actresses. (Photo from Getty Images Entertainment)

They have done nothing substantial (do they even have college degrees?), yet our generation watches them with fascination. Other girls who don’t really do anything but look pretty, and yet we loved them anyway, are named Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora.

Could our interest of vacuous fake celebrities stem from our love of Disney princesses? We watched them, sang along with them and wanted to be them. They were beautiful, they lived in castles (or in Belle’s case, Paris – editor’s note: just as fabulous!), and all that mattered was that their princes loved them so they could live happily ever after.

These women didn’t have jobs or any ambitions. When translating into real life, they are the Paris Hiltons, Heidi Montags and Kim Kardashians. They are famous simply for being beautiful, because their parents are rich, and, in some cases, because they can’t keep their legs shut.

It’s as though Disney has created an attitude of saying, “It’s OK to be dumb. As long as you are skinny and beautiful, you can be on TV and get endorsements, clothing lines, and perfume deals. And eventually a rich handsome man will fall in love with you.”

The Disney Princesses

The movies would have been vastly different if the princesses wanted to be more than princesses. Imagine if Ariel was a singer, struggling to make it big, using her voice for more than seducing Eric. And while Belle was well-read, she may have suited the Beast better if she was an animal rights activist. Or what if Snow White was the CEO of a fruit company and knew a poison apple when she saw one?

It was a welcomed change with The Princess and the Frog that Disney finally created a princess with a career and ambitions.

So, Disney, for future movies, rather than creating fairy tales, maybe you could examine the stories of women who have become astronauts, Supreme Court judges, Nobel Prize winners, talk show hosts, Heads of State or U.N. ambassadors. No princes, just college degrees — and a lot of will, courage and determination. The stories are already written, so you would save money and time on development, and it would completely redefine the roles of princesses and role models for younger generations.

Don’t get me wrong, I will always love Cinderella, Belle and Ariel, but I could definitely do without Lauren, Paris and Kim. There are far more intelligent, beautiful, accomplished women out there that I’d rather see on TV and in magazines.


About elissasblog

About the Author: Elissa writes about her experiences with her career and relationships and the difficulty in keeping the balance, especially while wearing 4-inch heels.
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9 Responses to The Modern Princesses: Do we have Disney to thank for the likes of Paris Hilton?

  1. Abigail says:

    don’t forget Pocohontas. Remember the way she was drawn? That outfit doesn’t exactly scream ‘love me for my brains’ if you know what i’m sayin’

  2. Nicole Couch says:

    Bravo Elissa!

    While 80’s kids grew up wanting to be Belle and Ariel, today’s kids are growing up (and spending millions) looking to reality stars for their guidance! Great message, well written, and I laughed the whole way through! Can’t wait to see more!

    • elissasblog says:

      Thanks, Nicole! Glad you liked it. I admit that I watch reality shows and train-wreck TV, but it’s so sad that they’re so much a part of our culture now. The dumber and louder you are, the more famous you can be.

      GlassHeels readers, please check out Great designer and vintage finds from a fellow fashion-loving Pittsburgh native!

  3. Sarah says:

    In fairness, I also wanted to be Jem. 🙂

  4. Kristen says:

    Elissa, this is a delightful article full of quick wit but true remarks. Cheers to you on this- I fully enjoyed reading and completely agree with your sentiments. (Although, I can’t deny it, I do adore Lo and probably will buy the October issue of Elle…)

    Looking forward to your next installment!

    • elissasblog says:

      Thanks, Kristen! Appreciate the feedback. I post columns every Tuesday, so you can stay tuned next week. In the meantime, I have a few past columns posted that you could read. If you look under Categories (on the right), and click on “Weekly Columns,” you’ll see them all. Thanks again!!!

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