Gender Stereotyping Is Alive And Kicking In Disneyland Paris 

This post may surprise you, but I’m a huge believer in eradicating gender stereotyping, especially with our children. The reason is very simple. As I once wrote my five year old twin girls are definitely a superhero and a princess.

Disney, I have decided makes no excuses about the fact that all girls are princesses and all boys are superheroes. There is no doubt staff are told and trained to use the word princess when talking to little girls and superhero or prince when referring to boys.

While we were on our holiday in Disneyland Paris there were of couple of things that I thought were very noticeable and one incident that, if I’m honest shocked me.

The first major thing that I noticed was that all staff, and I have to assume that they’re told or trained to do this, call every little girl, princess. Most regular readers of my blog will know that I have five year old twin girls, and they couldn’t be more different. M is without question a princess and R, well she is and probably believes that she is a superhero.

I found that staff really took notice of the fact that she was wearing a baseball cap and shorts. It appears to me that the staff are all brainwashed that all girls must be referred to as princesses. I will add that R never seemed put out by it, but she is only five and I think it had a hint of 1950’s about it.

The one incident happened when we had lunch at ADC, which is where you can have lunch with the princesses. We did this primarily for M because she is huge fan of princesses and that’s absolutely fine, but R, I think can take it or leave it. I would say give her Spiderman or Peter Pan, and she is a lot happier.

So we sat down to lunch and the waitress came and took our drinks order, and asked what food we would like for our lunch. This was all fine until we got to our desert. The girls had both decided they wanted Cinderella’s surprise.

The waitress then looked at my wife and focussed her attention on R.

She then said, “Is it a girl?”

My wife very quickly replied, “Of course she is a girl!”

My thoughts were I’m very sorry (not really), that she is wearing a baseball cap, shorts and a t-shirt and not Elsa’s dress, but hey ho! We live in the 21st century and girls as well as boys can wear what they like.

What was also worrying to me was that if R had been a boy was she not allowed to have Cinderella’s surprise for her desert? Totally crazy!

I might add that Cinderella’s surprise turned out to be a chocolate slipper. Correct me if I’m wrong, although I know I’m not since when is desert that is named Cinderella’s surprise for girls only? I was shocked and actually disgusted that this was even an issue.

Disneyland Paris, I will add is a truly awesome place to visit. It’s magical, wonderful and to go with my five year old twin girls who without question believe completely in the magic, and to them every character is real. The magic in their eyes when they meet the characters melted my heart every time.

Disney is one of the largest brands and corporations in the world and their influence in the world is enormous, so when I heard and saw what the staff say to children, I felt they are stuck a little bit in the past and need to embrace the new world, and help eradicate gender stereotyping with our children for a better future for the world.

I would love to know your thoughts.

33 thoughts on “Gender Stereotyping Is Alive And Kicking In Disneyland Paris 

  1. That is VERY surprising to me. As if a boy couldn’t order the chocolate dessert. I’m not normally someone who elevates things to the “higher ups” but this is definitely a time I would put out an email about the issue. #ThatFridayLinky

  2. Oh wow, really? In this day and age? I mean yeah, what about boys that like princesses? Are you really going to burst a three year old boy’s bubble simply because he is a boy? I find this a little upsetting. Disney, which continues to make spectacularly good family films, should know better. great post Nigel and awesome to see you last night. Thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  3. It’s very sad that, given Disney’s great attempts at showing diversity and working against gender stereotypes, the staff have this attitude and even seem trained to conform to them. It must be hard talking to such a huge number of kids all day, they don’t have the time to spend getting to know each individual child, but this is really disappointing. If I had a little girl I’d be furious if she was called a ‘princess’… not particularly fond of the idea of my son being called a ‘prince’ either to be honest. There are so many different characters to choose from…. why just those two!? Great blog, as always. #thatfridaylinky

  4. Never been, I suppose will do one day (arm twisted) I do worry that a lot of films (and television) is gender orientated. However Katie will watch Frozen on repeat until it;s switched off then go climb a tree. I figure she’ll be who she wants to be and no amount of external influence will change it.

  5. This is really, really frustrating! I tore the Disney Princess stickers off of some plastic cups we got second-hand because I didn’t want ours to be force-fed the message either. Conversely, I feel like boys are getting short-changed in stereotyping too, but want to think about it a bit more (it’s to do with ‘boy’ cartoon characters) before I blog about it!

  6. This does not surprise me at all sadly, I am surprised Disney let boys in considering how sexist they are within their films and products. God forbit a girl to be not dressed as Elsa X #thatfridaylinky

  7. It is a such a shame that you had to even write this post but I am so glad you did, I hate the this is still happening now. To be honest it seems to be getting a little worse at disney. may have to stop it there i feel a rant coming on…. #thatfridaylinky

  8. I’ve been to Disneyland Paris many a time and I’ve never noticed the use of Prince or Princess, but that’s probably because I turn into a big kid and am too excited to notice anything other than Disney magic #ThatFridayLinky x

  9. This surprises me, but perhaps it shouldn’t. Disney has built an empire on creating ‘pretty’ princesses and ‘handsome’ princes. I think as long as the children are enjoying themselves, it shouldn’t matter whether they prefer princesses or superheroes 🙂 #ThatFridayLinky

  10. My twin girls are only two and have only watched a couple of Disney films. We have tried to focus on the animal ones so far to delay the whole princess obsession. You’d think a huge corporation such as Disney would be less stereotypical. As if they could actually restrict a dessert based on gender!!! #thatfridaylinky

  11. I have to say that I’m not surprised. Disney have put a lot of money and effort into the whole Princess thing and it has worked for a very long time. Snow white was made in 1937. However, I have noticed that, at least in Orlando, I have noticed a subtle change in the way the staff act. It will take a long time for the attitudes to change but I think Disney recognise that times have changed. It is sad that there are still people that could ask that kind of question though. Your girls look like they had a wonderful time either way.
    Morgan x

  12. How annoying and it’s surprising a company like Disney really believes all girls should love princesses. There definitely needs to be more done around gender neutrality and know you’ve written about it before. Kids shouldn’t be forced to play with certain toys or ridiculed for playing with other toys. Thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  13. That is a very strange experience. I know that gender stereotypes are very much a part of our world – for better and for worse (ok, usually worse.) – but what does the waitress care if your little one is a boy or a girl?

    There is no reason to discourage children from enjoying whatever they are interested in. Boy things and girl things are much less important than creating happy memories. <3


  14. Wow! I’m sorry you (and especially your daughters) had to deal with that. I will say that I’ve had people question my kids’ genders so many times, I’ve lost count. I think that most of the time, the people doing this are just clueless. I mean REALLY clueless. When my oldest daughter, E, was a baby and toddler, people mistook her for a boy all the time, and she is the girliest girl there is. She’d be in a frilly pink dress with pigtails and bows in her hair, and someone would mistake her for a boy. Really? Are you blind?

    My son, R, had long hair until he was about 5 1/2. I LOVED his hair. I nearly cried when he told me he wanted to cut it. And do you know why he wanted a short hair cut? People kept thinking he was a girl. One day we were walking home from the bus stop, and my neighbor, who has known us for years and knows perfectly well that R is a boy, he called out to R, “Are you a girl or a boy?” I was stunned in silence for a minute, but my son said, “I’m a boy.” My neighbor then continued, “If you’re a boy, then why is your hair so long?” I snapped at him, “Because he looks great that way.” I gave him the death stare, and he quickly replied, “Oh, you’re right! He does look great!” Come on, Dude. Why would you try to insult a little boy like that?

    And this is actually the best story I have about gender mistakes: Once when I took E for a check up with her pediatrician, a nurse we’d never met took her vitals. She had E on the exam table, COMPLETELY NAKED. She was taking her temperature in her bottom and looking straight at her vagina, and she still kept referring to her as “him.” I think she might’ve missed a lesson or two in anatomy class in nursing school. #thatfridaylinky

  15. It would be interesting to know what they would say if a boy did want to order the dessert I guess!! Interesting, but I guess that Disney is always going to be a bit like that with Disney Princesses and all that. I wonder if they will move more into the modern world ha! Thanks for hosting #ThatFridayLinky

  16. Oh wow. I’d be so mad at that waitress! That’s so bad. I feel so sorry for you all! Such a shame in such a big and popular attraction. #ThatFridayLinky

  17. With the newfound gender fluidity in the world, it can really sock you in the stomach when a brand as big as Disney can forget what century they are in. Did they forget the made Moana? Merida? Superheroes like WonderWoman are kicking some major butt right now. I am so aligned with you here and I hope to see some changes. A girl/woman can do anything they want to… #ThatFridayLinky xo

  18. Wow! This shocked me! For Disney being such a dominant holiday resort they really need to move with the times. You are spot on in saying that why should it have mattered whether a boy or girl ordered that dessert??! There is so much global attention around the rights of adults to express their identity and personality via the way they dress, act etc, why aren’t we affording kids the same privilege to kids? Brillant, thought-provoking post and an issue that needs to be addressed by Disney! #ThatFridayLinky

  19. I would have been annoyed at this although unlikely to have happened as both my girls are confirmed princesses.
    I would have raised this at the time.
    However, I do wonder if this is more of a Disney Paris thing rather than Disney in general. Lots of different cultures and attitudes coming together in one place.
    The one complaint many have about DLP over all the other parks is the staff which is why I wonder if it’s more just a Disney Paris thing.
    Didn’t notice it in Orlando in 2015 but that might be, as I said previously, both mine are fully signed up princesses.
    I’d take it up with Disney, they need to be told about things in order to put them right.
    I’m a regular poster on a Disney fan forum. I’ll post a link to your blog on their to see what their thoughts are

  20. That is a terrible incident. What probably upsets me most is the reference to your daughter as “it”! I suspect that this event probably says as much about that particular staff member as about Disney, but they do need to address the training. Many people these days will just get that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable but a few don’t which is why it is important to keep stressing what is obvious to so many. There is still a great deal of ignorance around about what equality actually means in practice, and nothing can be taken for granted. #ThatFridayLinky

  21. Oh my god Nigel I can’t believe that they were that rude! How dare they! Is ‘IT’ a girl? for crying out loud! If I go into how I really feel I would be sat here all night commenting! #thatfridaylinky

  22. I have never been to Disney Land, but if I came across this, I definitely would be quite annoyed about it! Especially when we come from a Chinese background, I hope they don’t stereotype and insist that we have to like Mulan etc… #ThatFridayLinky

  23. A subject very close to my heart, Nige, good on you for taking it on.
    Personally, I abhor the foisting of ‘Princess’ title upon little girls, especially mine. If she decides herself to aspire to Princesshood then that’s all well and good, and if she wants to be a superhero like R, then great.
    I just don’t want Walt’s frozen head to be telling her what to wish for!!

  24. You’d think with all the uproar about the gay character in Beauty and the Beast that they’d adapted their ways. Its clear that they’re both girls…. Wasn’t Peter Pan traditionally played by a woman? Its a shame. But I’m glad it didn’t dampen the experience too much! #thatfridaylinky

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