Picture Perfect: The Reality of Being a Disney Princess

This is the age of the Disney Princesses. When I used to teach drama to little kids, not a day would go by without a large proportion of the tiny tots arriving in outfits entirely unsuitable for the rough and tumble of pre-K theater. Sequins, ruffles, yards of itchy, uncomfortable unnatural fibers in baby pinks and baby blues: these children were no longer Jessica, Britney or Caroline — they had been transformed into Jasmine, Belle and Cinderella (next up, African American Tiana). And whilst these toddlers are at pains to tell you which princess they are, to show you their crown or to topple precariously in hideous plastic high-heels, when asked what a princess actually does, they’re stumped.

All hail then, West Coast photographer Dina Goldstein, whose almost-complete series Fallen Princesses casts light on the modern day plight of fairy tale royalty. Just what would a contemporary Cinderella be doing with herself? Take a look at a few of Goldstein’s powerful images after the jump…

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At first glance, Goldstein’s work is a humorous, tongue-in-cheek jab at Disney and the total fantasy of their princesses that do not correlate with the real world. Yet, on further inspection, these images convey a powerful message about the complexities of modern womanhood, as the princesses struggle with the blights of 21st century living: they battle their appearances, domestic inequality, and the ravages of war. More than just a critique of cartoons, Goldstein demonstrates the disparity of women’s expectations and experiences in a way that is both accessible and striking.

When my drama tots discover the true realities of what being a princess in 2009 entails, all that taffeta and ribbon will surely disappear.