Snow White and the seven lines: has Disney got a princess problem?

Female Disney characters routinely have fewer lines than males even in films in which theyre the lead. But at least their dolls now look a bit human

Name: Disney princesses.

Age: Perpetually about 19.

Appearance: Silent and weird-looking.

How can you say that? Every little girl wants to be a Disney princess. Do they? Do they really want to grow up as a pretty afterthought on the sideline to everyone elses story?

Oh, come on. What is Snow White if not the story of Snow White herself? The story of loads of men tasked with fixing an unconscious womans problem, thats what. In fact, according to research published by linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer, female characters only had 50% of that films dialogue.

Fine, bad example. What about Beauty and the Beast? Women only spoke 29% of the lines in that, and thats even if we take the unusual step of assigning a gender to that creepy singing teapot.

Little Mermaid? You mean the one where the ostensible protagonist is literally banned from talking for the majority of the film?

Good point. And dont suggest Frozen next, either. Even though you cannot remember a single male character from that film, they still outnumbered female characters two to one.

This is awful. Can something be done? Maybe. Production of the Disney Princess toy range has just shifted from Mattel to Hasbro, which wants to introduce a new realism in order to change how we think about princesses.

Really? Sort of. Mattels Disney princesses were notoriously Barbie-like; all elegant and gossamer, held in passive poses with their tiny heads resting on top of ridiculous necks.

And now? They come in different heights and body types, and theyre more distinct. The emphasis is apparently now on what the princesses can do, rather than how they look.

And what can they do? Hasbro seems especially keen on Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, mainly because shes apparently a great cook. Women like to cook, right?

Its a step forward, I guess. What do these new Hasbro dolls sound like? Oh, they still dont talk. This is Disney, remember, not the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference.

Do say: Finally, my daughter can now better identify with these magical figures of entrenched privilege.

Dont say: Mummy, look, Mulans thighs scrape together when she walks! Just like yours!

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