Chirp chirp simper

The artist, cartoonist and illustrator David Trumble did a Disney-princessified version of ten women who got/get shit done, by way of making the point that women don’t have to look like a Disney princess to get shit done.

This was a response to the furor kicked up over the glossy ‘princessification’ of Pixar’s Merida character, both in image and doll form. I drew this picture because I wanted to analyze how unnecessary it is to collapse a heroine into one specific mold, to give them all the same sparkly fashion, the same tiny figures, and the same homogenized plastic smile.

My experience of female role models both in culture and in life has shown me that there is no mold for what makes someone a role model, and the whole point of Merida was that she was a step in the right direction, providing girls with an alternative kind of princess. Then they took two steps back, and painted her with the same glossy brush as the rest. So I decided to take 10 real-life female role models, from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and filter them through the Disney princess assembly line.

The result was this cartoon, which earned equal parts praise and ire from readers. Some didn’t get the joke, some disagreed with it, others saw no harm in it at all and wanted to buy the doll versions of them… it was a polarizing image, but I suppose that’s the point. The statement I wanted to make was that it makes no sense to put these real-life women into one limited template, so why then are we doing it to our fictitious heroines?

David Trumble_ Women Of The World Collection

David Trumble

Fiction is the lens through which young children first perceive role models, so we have a responsibility to provide them with a diverse and eclectic selection of female archetypes. Now, I’m not even saying that girls shouldn’t have princesses in their lives, the archetype in and of itself is not innately wrong, but there should be more options to choose from. So that was my intent, to demonstrate how ridiculous it is to paint an entire gender of heroes with one superficial brush.

Go to the article to see photos of the women next to their cartoons to see who’s who (and how vastly more interesting-looking the real women are than the bubblegum version).


  1. rq says

    I have this weird reaction: first, the whole They’re all so cute / goodlooking! and then the subsequent But why the hell should that matter at all?
    For quite a few of them – ok, all of them – their real life pictures have this presence or power that goes well beyond standards of femininity, and this presence is lost in the disneyfication, completely – they all look like charming, sweet, graceful women who giggle and blush a lot (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they definitely lose their individuality and … looking for a word here, something between meaning and personhood and inner strength).

  2. John Morales says

    Go to the article to see photos of the women next to their cartoons to see who’s who

    Says it all, really.

  3. Ben Wright says

    Notice how many of them have glasses, too, as opposed to how many fictional characters wear glasses.

  4. forestdragon says

    I only recognized two without having to go to the article – Steinem and Malala. They all tend to blend together, don’t they?

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