For ages and ages and ages Disney Princesses have been a ridiculous representation of how women look and as have left, perhaps not deliberately, young girls striving to be something that they can never reach, not least of all because they are, you know, not cartoons...or princesses... or locked in castles. But now, to make its heroines relevant role models to girls in 2016, Disney has teamed up with thousands of parents to redefine what it means to be a princess.
Instead of focussing on characters' looks, as we oldies haven't been able to help but do, the project aims to highlight the positive character traits of the princesses and inspires girls to believe in themselves. The traits of the modern day princesses have been turned into posters which are available to girls free of charge.
Disney UK commissioned Judy Reith, parenting expert to analyse the characteristics of Disney Princesses, including the compassionate Belle from Beauty and the Beast, courageous Rapunzel from Tangled (my fave) and confident Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.
They then put a list of these inner qualities and traits to a panel of more than 5000 parents who ranked the attributes that they deemed to be most relevant and important to their daughters, aged between six and 12.
They were then turned into Princess Principles Posters by three of the UK's leading illustrators, Kate Moross, Ross Blake and Kate Forrester. The top 10 principles were:
1) Care for others.
2) Live healthily.
3) Don't judge a book by its cover.
4) Be honest.
5) Be a friend you can trust.
6) Believe in yourself.
7) Right wrongs.
8) Try your best.
9) Be loyal.
10) Never give up.
Reith, who is a mother herself and also the author of Seven Secrets of Raising Girls said: "many young girls dream of being a Disney Princess, so it is exciting to be part of an initiative that defines exactly what that means. The results make clear that being a 'princess' is not just about titles, tiaras or marrying a prince, but about emulating Cinderella's courage, Merida's heroism and Snow White's generosity. I hope the principles will encourage a whole new generation of girls to care for others, try their best and believe in themselves."
Anna Hill from Disney added that "it is fantastic that thousands of parents have helped us define the principles of a modern day princess. And the illustrators have done a great job of bringing the principles to life in the posters, which we hope will end up on bedroom walls across the country and help inspire girls to dream big."
The research also revealed who parents consider to be the most inspirational and empowering female role models for young girls and the results were as follows:
1) Michelle Obama
2) Kate Middleton
3) Jessica Ennis-Hill
4) JK Rowling
5) Laura Kenny
6) Holly Willoughby
7) Angelina Jolie
8) Emma Watson
9) The Queen
10) Malala Yousafzai
(All worthy winners if you ask me, well chosen parents!)
And happily it also found that 80% of parents believed that their daughters were more caring and compassionate than they were at the same ages and 64% said their girls were more confident. This, I suspect may be because we do have such great parents, and in between the reality TV stars and half naked singers, some great role modes - just look at the list above. (I would also then add the likes of Ellie Simmonds, Ashley Graham, Tanya Burr, Theresa May, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Degeneres etc.etc.etc.)
Reith also said that "girls need strong role models when growing up so it is good to see they are looking up to an inspirational list of caring, courageous and determined female figures. It is also positive news that that many parents believe their children are more caring, compassionate and confident than they were when they were young, which can only be positive news as girls step out and make their mark in the world."
It has taken me the longest time ever to fully appreciate the beauty within, throughout my childhood and school years I fully believed that in order to be truly beautiful you had to LOOK it, but since being a grown up and running this blog I now know and understand for certain that my beautiful friends, my properly amazing, striking friends, are the ones with an abundance of kindness, love and enthusiasm. So appreciative nod in Disney's direction for doing their bit to bring this discovery to young girls.
Here's hoping that this marks the beginning of a change and that girls of today won't spend their entire pre-20s life believing even for a second that looks count for everything.