A trousers matter: are Disney’s female characters clothes of the latest animated and live action films empowering or a weak façade?
Princesses wear gowns, beautiful capes, wonderfully handmade dresses. Or do they? In the latest Walt Disney Animated Films, princesses and women have been wearing trousers and pants substituting the “average” and worldwide known princess outfit. From Maleficent to Toy Story 4 to Frozen II, many female characters started wearing more comfortable clothes which allow them to fight and move comfortably wherever they want. Disney is diving into its old filmography and rethinking their old fairy tale classics changing key characteristics to make the stories more “feminist” according to contemporary standards (Koushik, Reed 2018). Although it has been a clear sign of empowerment, are these changes following feminist roots? Are the female characters empowered? Feminism’s reemergence in the mainstream has forced and is still forcing businesses and media organizations to be aware of and even to promote gender issues relevant to the marketing of their products (Schiele, Louie, Chen 2020). Queen Elsa from Frozen, for example, is an insecure character but she does not face her fears as her sister Anna does. However, in Frozen II, Elsa changes her attitude and with it her clothes change too. Is queen Elsa, however, really one of the most powerful Disney characters? On a visual language perspective, are trousers the best way to show how women can be empowered? Is it a clothes matter or is it more a motif matter? Is using stereotypical heritage from fairy tales a wise choice? And are the characters from Encanto a new perspective on the matter?
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