For those of us who grew up watching Disney movies such as the Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, we remember the feeling of "fuzziness" felt afterwards. We still have present in our minds the scene where Sleeping Beauty is laying down dormant waiting for her Prince Charming to kiss her back to life. Scenes such these become hallmarks of love and conquest for kids growing up, against which we (unconsciously) judged potential lovers. But, in reality, how have Disney movies, such as Sleeping Beauty, and social media in general, influenced our views and expectations on love; and how these impact the way we behave in romantic relationships? Are these movies destroying how we experience love in real life? I would say that partially they are and partially they are not.
Here are some reasons how Sleeping Beauty is compromising love relationships:
1. Conventional gender roles are portrayed on Sleeping Beauty:
Like the majority of the Disney movies aired in the 80's and 90's, and some nowadays still, men and women are portrayed in a traditional way. Men are strong and insusceptible, and women fragile and vulnerable. Conventional gender roles per se are not a problem, in my view, however, the disadvantage of these characterizations is that it prevents both genders from acting in a free manner or in ways they find suitable for each circumstance. This translates into dichotomous ways of men and women interacting with one another; where men, slaves to the idea of "self-reliance and unemotionality", might find difficult to put feelings into words, and, women, prisoners of the idea of "vulnerability and weakness", find challenging to assert their needs. The reason gender stereotypes are negative in the context of relationships is because they get people stuck in how they communicate their needs and how they provide support to one another.
2. Sleeping Beauty sells the idea that there is only one human being in the world that is a perfect match for you:
This idea of compatibility is probably a long-standing belief that I see in couples very often. People believe that if they are having issues and are not on the same page frequently, is because they are not compatible. Studies seem to show that this is a complete myth what it comes to relationships. What makes a couple last is not how compatible they are, but how they work out their differences. In relationship where couples feel safe and loved, where they are able to reach out to their partner in times of need, and receive the care they need, couples are able to tolerate and accept differences in their relationship. This happens because people feel confident about the other person's love and acceptance, thus, they are able to communicate more effectively their differences. So, it is not about compatibility, it is about connection!
3. Sleeping Beauty trick us to believe in a "happily ever after":
Sleeping Beauty, and many other romantic movies, promote the idea that once you find that amazing lover, you will be happy for the rest of your days. In reality, this is partly true and not true! When you find someone that loves you back that is definitely an amazing and precious experience; but with it comes naturally a set of perpetual problems that you will have to figure out for the rest of your days. The idea that happiness is a constant state in a marriage and that, therefore, conflict and disagreements are a sign that the relationship is doomed, it is an idea you will want to throw away, otherwise, you might end up throwing away a legitimate and potentially amazing relationship!
But there are a few other reasons why Sleeping Beauty is a positive influence on our views of love:
1. Prince Charming responds to Sleeping Beauty's emotional needs:
According to Wikipedia, Prince Charming "is a fairy tale character who comes to the rescue of a damsel in distress and stereotypically must engage in a quest to liberate her from an evil spell". The positive thing about the concept of the Prince Charming is that he offers a "safe haven" to Sleeping Beauty. How this relates to real life? At the end of the day, when we are exhausted and haunted by our own evils, all we need is the comfort of the our loved one to help us soothe our anguish. And it is not just from Prince to Princess, it is also from Princess to Prince. Or, from Prince to Prince, and Princess to Princess!
2. Sleeping Beauty is really emotional attached to Prince Charming:
It is evident that Sleeping Beauty becomes really distraught when she is forbidden, by the Good Fairies, from seeing the Prince. Clearly this shows that she is in love and feels emotional attached to the Prince. Again, how does this resonate with real life? It reflects real life in the sense that we fall in love with someone who responds to our emotional needs. Therefore, the prospect of losing that person makes us feel really distraught. Some people might think this sounds like a "needy" behaviour, when in reality it is one of the ways that human beings react to the possibility of losing someone they are deeply emotionally attached to.
3. Sleeping Beauty doesn't give up on love:
Another lesson that we can learn from Sleeping Beauty is that she and her Prince fight hard against to make sure their love prevails. Even through adversity, they never give up on her love. This is probably the most beautiful and realistic view of love and relationships that Sleeping Beauty teach us: that life will throw at us all kinds of challenges, which will put a strain on love, but if we fight hard and persistently, love might really make it until the end.
Have fun watching some Disney movies!