Gender Stereotypes in Disney Films

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Walt Disney Animation Films and Their Influence on Children

Walt Disney animation films are majorly glorified to be family entertainment, greatly and enthusiastically enfolded by children and backed up by teachers and parents. A primary concern is its influence on the children since it creates different imaginations, fantasies, and notions as far as the real world is concerned. Mickey Mouse Monopoly documentary critically analyzes the world created by Disney films about race, gender, and class and finds out that there is an actual motive portrayed more than just fun and innocence (Thomas, 1991). In this paper, I will discuss gender representation in animated films, "Beauty and the Beast" in particular.

Summary of the Film Beauty and the Beast

"Beauty and the beast" film of 1991 is a product of Walt Disney Pictures revolves around the relationship between the beast and Belle. The prince receives punishment by being transformed magically into a beast and servants into objects due to their arrogance behavior. Initially, the girl is forced to get married to Gaston, but she refuses. She sets off to the woods to find her father who had been imprisoned by the beast in a castle for trespassing. The girl accepts to be a prisoner so as to free her father. They were to fall in love before the final petal falls off the rose used to curse the beast by Enchantress, lest the prince remains a monster forever. After some time, Belle and the beast are attracted to each other. Belle affirms that she loved the beast just before the last petal dropped and he receives restoration to human life along with his servants, and they live happily ever after.

Gender Representation in the Film

There are several instances of gender stereotype depicted in the beauty and the beast. From the initial film scenes, Belle brings out a sense of traditional elegance. When she appears leaving the house, she has big eyes, long hair skinny body conforming to the standards of the conventional beauty. Just from her attractive physical appearance and name is a total expression of beauty within her unlike Adam, the prince who is a representation of a beast.

The initial song in the film introduces Belle's hometown and emphasizes more about her personality as being a fascinating female character and beauty. She is marginalized by the entire community. This clearly shows that a woman should be beautiful and that is all. When her love for reading develops, she is described by the townspeople as peculiar, an outsider, odd and dreamy. People in her community have a traditional belief that a woman should not be independent or educated.

Several stereotypical images of emotional, uneducated, hyperfeminine, blonde female behavior depicted. Other girls are suggesting that Belle should marry Gaston, but she is not interested. They demonstrate the superficial beauty and traditional femininity with the most excellent marriage goal (Thomas, 1991).

In several occasions, Belle is represented as brave and independent. She sets out in the woods to find her father by herself and rescue him. She sacrifices to become a prisoner to free her father. Unfortunately, this is interpreted as being feminine instead of bravery. Rather than victimizing the woman at times, the beast is also victimized. The creature is saved by Belle in minor ways, for instance, caring for his wounds and breaking the curse. This implies that a man depends on a woman and he is incomplete without one.

Masculinity in the film is represented by leading characters like Gaston and the beast. Gaston is depicted as a hypermasculine old-fashioned man. His behavior toward Belle, muscular appearance and through the singing praising his masculine qualities example fighter and burly. These qualities are not in Belle's line of interest; she still opts for the beast over Gaston. She has no interest in a man who adheres to the traditional norms. The beast, on the other hand, falls for Belle's personality rather than beauty.

General Point of View

Stereotypes are problematic. They oppress and limit people who do not conform to them. The society from which Belle resides is problematic concerning gender representation and equality. Women are believed to be submissive to men. Gender representation negatively influences the young audience at large. Stereotypes widely presented in cultural productions and our very societies instill and reinforce children's expectations and perceptions about female and male portrayals in their real minds. Since their brains are still growing, whatever they perceive from seeing it is precisely what they conceptualize and do.

In my thinking capacity, gender stereotyping in Disney films is more prevalent in the depictions of female characters as more biased than males. Women are drawn as weak links in stories with situations that involve being rescued by male characters. Men are always presented to be strong and become heroes at the end of the day. For instance, in the beauty and the beast, despite Belle is abused by the community she still sticks around. Women are usually presented as housekeepers, reliant among others. At the end of the film, female roles are all the same.


In my point of view, the depiction of gender has slightly improved. The male character is no longer an unconquerable hero. There are heroines too. For example, Bell was the only person who could have saved the beast. There is a remarkable improvement since the modern Disney movies are inclusive, politically correct and sensitive.


Thomas, B. (1991). Disney’s Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast. Disney Editions.

September 25, 2023

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