This week on The Disney Princess Series I’m touching on a Disney heroine that’s often been forgotten. As a 3D rag doll monster Sally Skellington’s never been photogenic enough to be a member of the Disney Princess club. Clad in rags, Sally’s kind and very clever, holding fort with Jack Skellington as a protagonist of The Nightmare Before Christmas. She’s not a princess in any way (so her exclusion seems pretty obvious), but I do think her exclusion from the Disney Princess line comes from an area much more than if she has a crown on her head.
Something I’d like to touch on – which I feel Sally typefies – is Disney’s representation of female characters. As this series touches on more than just the princesses and moves onto other awesome Disney heroines I want to question the extent to which Disney is creating an image for what they feel is feminine or heroic in the world. Sally’s not a well known heroine and has been all but ignored since her 1993 debut. She has the physical lithe and slim-waisted depiction of any Disney Princess, but her appearance is not as princessy. Her skin isn’t smooth nor is it is a ‘human’ colour and she’s clothes in the most fashionable of rags.
For all the fans that love her, the absence of these characteristics does not make her a less interesting or loved character. For many this only makes her less endearing, emphasising the fact that she’s not a perfect package ties up in a bow but just a character with a good heart. All of the Disney Princesses – even the more ‘realistic’ ones like Merida – are marketed as adorable and aesthetically pleasing. It does make me wonder what message they’re trying to get across to little girls. The lack of including more non-typical characters like Sally suggests that there are physical traits which aren’t acceptable to certain standards or categories. For a line like Disney Princess, which promotes these fictional role models for little girls, that’s a potentially dangerous message to get across.
Now I know some people might say that it’s the duty of the parent to just not get certain items for children if they don’t like it. But I believe it’s also the responsibility of the company marketing such items to children to be aware of their audience. I understand the Disney Princess line is all sparkles and rainbows but Sally is just as good, kind and interesting (if not more so) a character as many of the other Disney Princesses. When I was a kid one of my favourite X-Men was Nightcrawler – his blue skin and unique physicality made him interesting and cool – and I’m sure many little girls will love Sally too.
As I move onto some of the famous and non-human heroines from Disney I wonder how many of them, were it not for their appearance, might have a shot at being part of the Disney court. Now I’m going to pop The Nightmare Before Christmas on the TV. I love me some Tim Burton, and I love Sally too.