The Little Mermaid Makes Waves Again

Brad M. Griffin | Aug 22, 2012

Have you seen Ariels sexy new look?

No, Disney hasnt formally updated the Little Mermaid character. But someone else has. A Venezuelan plastic surgery group recently released an ad that has flooded the internet, under the campaign We Make Fairy Tales Come True. (You can see the ad here).

But really, as this Christian Science Monitor article asks, Do Disney princesses need to be sexier? Adding to that thoughtful dialogue, I think we can mostly agree a hearty NO.

Honestly, Ariel was already a disturbing role model for little girls: selling her soul to a witch for the chance to be loved only for her body (since she couldnt talk or sing anymore), then sent with the mission of getting physical with a guy (the kiss was required) in order to prove true love. Not exactly what I hope for either of my daughters future.

But I guess on top of all that, her breasts werent big enough for todays preferences?

Weve written a lot about the pressure girls face to be too sexy too young, the prevalence of plastic surgery among minors, and the plethora of issues teenage girls face related to image and sexuality. This is nothing new. And its not limited to plastic surgeons.

I hope no little girls in your life are exposed to this ad. But chances are most teenagers you know have seen it online already. If you are a youth worker or a parent of teenagers, ask them if theyve seen the ad. You might wonder aloud with them about their response:

  • What did they think of it?
  • What kinds of responses did their friends have?
  • Does a fairy-tale body appeal to them?
  • What kind of narrative surrounds this ad, and the lifestyle its suggesting?
  • If they had a chance to talk to the people who created the ad, what would they say?

Pretending that our daughters (and sons) dont see these messages isnt going to bring change. But helping our kids engage cultural messages about beauty and live into a different story might just change a lot. Like the girl who took on Seventeen, perhaps young people themselves will spark those changes.

Those are waves Id like to see.

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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