Monday, June 15, 2009

Princesses Again

I'm currently lovin' on the Fallen Princesses photo series by Dina Goldstein. Some samples:


  1. Meg'n6/15/2009

    I love how the prince has a rip in his tights in the Snow White one!

  2. Serendipity6/15/2009

    I'm assuming the second one is supposed to be Belle, and it's making me a bit queasy. Great photos!

  3. chaoticheartt6/15/2009

    Why is motherhood a fallen state? Why is cancer a fallen state? Why is being fat a fallen state? Because those particular photos are doing nothing but reinforcing a patriarchal ideal. I find it surprising that this site would endorse such a thing.

  4. EGhead6/15/2009

    I agree chaotic. And no one has mentioned the incredibly racist one of Jasmine as a terrorist.

  5. chaoticheartt,

    I guess I'm not sure why the interpretation has to be that motherhood is a fallen state. I'm a mom and I don't feel that it's a fallen state. However, the heteronormative model that princesses must conform to will inevitably result in motherhood, which is a bit less glamorous than the princess rhetoric teaches girls to expect. And you can forget about expecting help from the prince - men don't care for babies and clean the house in the princess version of heteronormativity. So I think the snow white pic is simply pointing these facts out.

    And I'm not sure where the cancer issues comes from. I interpreted the picture of Belle as depicting plastic surgery, which is required by the ridiculous beauty standards that princesses are held to, and I take it that this image is pointing out that plastic surgery is not glamorous or painless either.

    However, I agree that the little red riding hood pic was in bad taste, and I probably should have commented on that.

  6. EGhead,

    I didn't interpret the Jasmine picture as depicting her as a terrorist, and now that I look at it again, I'm not sure why she would have to be a terrorist in this case. It isn't one of my favorite among the group, but I interpreted it as pointing out that princesses are not immune to the political and social context in which they exist. So a princess who comes from a war torn part of the world may well find herself pulled into military violence. After all, millions of other women and gorls are not immune from the effects of military activities around them, so why should a princess expect she should be?

    So maybe there's an ideological difference going on here. One of my issues with the whole princess bullshit in our culture is that princesses (among other things) are thought to be immune to reality and the hardships of life that others face and to the consequences of their actions and the actions of others. Many of these pics point out that this simply isn't true. At least that's my interpretation of it.

  7. MsDangerPants6/16/2009

    The cancer reference comes from the Rapunzel pic. But I interpreted it in a similar way to you, Rachel. I took it that if all of your identity and self-esteem is tied up with your looks, your beauty, your appeal to men, then something like cancer will be like the end of your life. So if Rapunzel's hair fell out after chemo, she would be lost and desolate, since her whole identity was tied up with it.

    Another way to say this is that you don't have to see cancer and motherhood and war and weight issues as "fallen states," as chaotic phrases it. Rather, these are realities of the world that many women will encounter, and the whole "princess" mindset does not equip you to deal with the real world in these ways. Or at all, really.

  8. FWIW, I interpreted these images this way too. For any princess, just having to live in reality and cope with realworld situations is a fall from grace. Because it's a part of being a princess that you're too special to have to confront and adapt to reality. So I thought the photographer was pointing out that princesses have no coping skills, or any skills other than looking pretty and being charming.

  9. UCLAgrrrl6/16/2009

    I don't know, it does kind of seem to me that there's an implication that these are fallen states. But maybe that's a cultural indictment - like critiquing the fact that we view motherhood and cancer and these things as totally lacking in charm or glamour.

  10. Meg'n6/16/2009

    Hmm, I can see how this could be interpreted as depicting motherhood etc as fallen states, but I think the other interpretation makes more sense. And I thought that's why there's so much non-glamorous detail in many of the pics - to show how life isn't always glamorous but you've gotta cope, which princesses can't.

  11. Appletini6/16/2009

    I don't think this is controversial at all. The pics are clearly targeting the lack of coping skills that princesses would display in many modern day, real life situations.

  12. chaoticheartt6/16/2009

    My comment re the portrayals being of 'fallen states' comes from the name of the collection, "Fallen Princesses". Obviously the photographer is intending to portray her princesses as 'fallen', thus implying that the situations her princesses are posed in are 'fallen' states. The cancer reference comes from the Rapunzel picture which seems to be depicting her as undergoing chemo.

  13. chaoticheartt,

    Sure, I get that the name includes "fallen," but still don't see why that has to be interpreted as motherhood, etc being fallen states. Maybe it simply means that these princesses have "fallen" into real life situations and (not surprisingly) can't cope. But I think it's an indictment of princess culture, not motherhood and cancer.

    And I realized that the cancer reference was in regard to the Rapunzel pic, but I agree with MsDangerPants on this one. As a princess you are nothing without your beauty, so for Rapunzel, losing her hair would amount to a fallen state.

  14. Bailey6/16/2009


    I think you're absolutely right about this. And I'm actually deeply troubled by the fact that everyone seems to be assuming that Jasmin is a terrorist. To me, making that assumption is racist, because I doubt that anyone would assume that any of the white princesses were terrorists if they were shown in the middle of a battlefield holding a gun. Just because you're in the middle of a war and your dark-skinned does not make you a racist.

  15. If Jazmine as a terrorist probably would not be using an M-16, and especially would not be using a 10 round clip instead of a 30 round clip. But at least she got it right that the points of the belted ammo are facing away from her neck...

    But maybe I am over-analyzing it.

    The pictures are just messing with standard 'happily ever after' myths in several ways, and looking at one in isolation is not going to catch the full scope of what's going on.

    Disney is always catching shit for alot of things, and each one of the pictures plays with that.

    Jasime in the Movies can be a typical Disney Princess (needing to be rescued, mostley worthless in a fight, etc) and this one is a bad ass.

    Rupunzel and the hair is another easy switcharo, as is Sleeping Beauty living in squalor.

    A heafty Red Riding Hood laden with snacks makes sense, as she is the target of the Wolf's hunger herself.

  16. A heafty Red Riding Hood laden with snacks makes sense, as she is the target of the Wolf's hunger herself.

    I hadn't thought of that angle...interesting.