Publication Date

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Journalism and Mass Communications


Diana Stover


appearance, Disney, family, film, love, princess

Subject Areas

Mass communication; Film studies


This thesis examined the role and characterization of family members in Disney princess films. The purpose of this study was to fill gaps in previous research on the Disney princess films by analyzing the themes and collection as a whole, including the newest film in the collection, The Princess and the Frog. Using content analysis, this study identified three variables that were present in every Disney princess film in the collection - nuclear family, love, and appearance. The researcher found little family diversity in terms of types of households, parenting roles, and characterization of family members. Siblings were especially underrepresented. Only two of the nine princesses had siblings, and very little screen time was devoted to them. Diversity in the appearance of princesses and suitors was also lacking, even in more recent films. Newer films included non-Caucasian princesses, and more of the princesses were shown wearing revealing clothing. No significant differences were found in the characterizations of the princesses. The age, ethnicity, and economic status of the suitors became more diverse in recent films, but the suitors were characterized in similar ways. Although there were few changes in the appearance and characterizations of family members and significant others, princesses in newer films became more goal-driven and showed less romanticization of love and escapism.