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Girls & Women

Disney Is Enlisting Princesses to Send a Very Powerful Message to Girls Everywhere

Rebecca L/Flickr.

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse,” Walt Disney famously said.

For over half a century, the magic of Walt Disney has been inspiring people young and old to dream big. Every story of a Disney princess starts with a dream —  from opening a restaurant to walking on dry land.

But many girls around the world do not believe in their dreams, whatever they may be, because they do not see it in popular culture. Nearly 88% of young female creatives in the US say they lack female role models, according to a survey by the Young Creative Council.

With as much as 80% of advertising worldwide targeting women, the message the media sends can have a strong effect — positive or negative — on a girl’s belief in what she can achieve. Gender-stereotyped messages can perpetuate traditional views of women and influence children's perceptions of women in science, engineering, and technology, according to one study.

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Seeing is critical to believing, and many girls are not seeing their true potential in the world they live in. So Disney decided to change that.

The #DreamBigPrincess photography campaign encourages girls around the world to “dream big” and to believe they can achieve those dreams.

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Disney worked with 19 female photographers from 15 countries to capture the stories and images of girls striving to achieve their dreams by breaking down mental and social barriers that hold them back.

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“When I think about all the girls, myself included, my sisters, my daughters, who are influenced by the Disney princesses, you know that this is an opportunity to inspire girls to be something more,” one of the campaign’s photographers says in the promotional video.

disney girls princess photoImage: Disney/YouTube.

The photos feature a wide range of girls breaking down barriers, including girls in India going against cultural norms to continue their education. The photographers, too, are female role models achieving their dreams, and include Annie Griffiths, who at the age of 25 become one of the first female photographers for National Geographic, and traveled the world while raising two kids.

One of the most inspirational girls featured in the campaign is 14-year-old Grace Bunke from the US. Grace loved to run. But three years ago, she was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer that resulted in doctors amputating one her legs. Despite this, Grace continues to do what she loves and dreams of one day becoming a Paralympian.

disney dream big princess # graceImage: Disney/YouTube.

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To spread the visibility of inspiring girls around the world like Grace, Disney is asking people to share the #DreamBigPrincess pictures and stories across social media.

From August 15 to October 11, Disney Worldwide Services will donate $1 for any public post of a photo using the #DreamBigPrincess hashtag or any ‘like’ of such a post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, up to $1 million.

Those funds will go toward the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up programs that empower girls to take action and advocate for themselves. With the funds from the campaign, Girl Up can continue to expand and improve its work of lifting girls up in countries around the world.

Together with the photography campaign, the two organizations hope that girls around the world will not just dream but take steps toward achieving those dreams, which is what Walt Disney envisioned when he created his global company.

In his own words: “First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare.”