Reinterpretations of Disney princesses are big right now. At their best, the princesses offer complex portrayals of women who struggle to find their identifies and courageously assert themselves. But they also send conflicting messages about the powerful female: while many discover the beautiful complexities of love, others are simply rescued by a prince.
The most recent take on the Disney ladies comes from the photographer Ryan Astamendi, whose real-life photographs of Disney princesses have taken the internet by storm. While they are expertly shot, each of Astamendi’s princesses disappointingly occupies a pretty conventional and limiting space: rather than subverting cultural expectations, they demurely peer at the camera, offering politely downcast eyes and suggestive glances. Pocahontas wears what looks like a sexy Native American Halloween costume, reinforcing Disney’s often misinformed and insensitive appropriation of the legendary woman. They read more like commercial men’s magazine photography than fine art; in fact, Astamenti’s background is in magazines like Maxim.
The series is seductive, and perhaps the power of the work may be found in its refusal to be critical or subversive. In many ways, Astamenti simply offers a mirror held up the limiting way our society views the princess, glossing over their courageous intellects and loving hearts in service of a less empowered feminine ideal. What do you think of the photographs? Let us know in the comments!
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Thanks to Daily Mail and Geeks Are Sexy
Images via Geeks Are Sexy
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.