Fallen Princess Photos Provide a Feminist Perspective


This piece was cross-posted here with permission from Vitamin W

Our culture still loves princess stories. Indeed, the Disney Princess films account for five of the six top money-making Disney films ever.  The franchises sell billions of dollars worth of princess merchandise.  Now artists and scholars are starting to poke holes in the princess culture.


Being a princess may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Photographer Dina Goldstein created a sensation with this series called “Fallen Princesses”.  When her three-year-old daughter was enamored of Disney princesses, Goldstein’s own mother was confronting breast cancer. That personal plot point Goldstein explained, “made me wonder what a Princess would look like if she had to battle a disease, struggle financially or deal with aging. I began to imagine what could happen to the Princesses later in life and after the happily ever after. Naturally they would have to deal with challenges that all modern woman face.” Those challenges might be homelessness, obesity,fear of aging, captivity, and even suburban housewifery.
The series even caught the attention of academics. A scholar in communications, Sarah Partlow-Lefevre will present a paper this fall suggesting these insanely popular images force the viewer to accept feminist principles.  And these shots certainly mess with princess culture. Partlow-Lefevre, who is at Idaho State University writes, “Such images create incongruity by using shifts in depictions of race, class, and gendered appearances of princes and princesses.  By juxtaposing idealized notions of Disney type princesses with bleak negative representations; these pictures create feminist perspectives through incongruities.”  Princess fantasies  just don’t look like women’s lives.
Indeed, if the princess narrative represented real life more closely–American women would be spending lots of time with animals and very little doing domestic chores. And they’d be getting rescued a lot, lot more.  A team at the University of Connecticut did a time-study like breakdown of several Disney princesses and found that most had no domestic work to speak of. Note that princesses get rescued 30 times versus 12 times per prince.  And if you don’t get rescued, you might end up the poor princesses in the series.
Images: Dina Goldstein with permission

Dina Goldstein is a conceptual artist with a background in documentary photography.  She creates visual series that place the mundane and everyday in unusual settings to inspire insight into the human condition. Her two recent projects are “Fallen Princesses”, 2009  (above) and “In the Dollhouse”, 2011 which is  a narrative of the home life shared by Barbie and Ken.  See her current exhibits or watch the making of her dollhouse series.

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