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What is a Princesszilla?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The concept of a “princesszilla” was born in the marketing division of the Walt Disney Company, although you won't heard the term spoken there. Princesszillas are adult women who purchase Disney princess branded products which are specifically marketed to adults. The trend of turning traditionally child-oriented marketing in the direction of women arose in the early 21st century, when Disney executives reasoned that adult women might yearn for a bit of romance in their lives, just as young children do.

Disney is an extremely powerful brand, and one of the strongest sectors of the Disney brand is its princesses, like Ariel, Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, and Aurora. Girls can watch films starring the princesses, wear clothes modeled after the clothing worn in these films, and beg their parents for an assortment of Disney princess branded products, from sheets to school bags. The Disney company is probably undoubtedly pleased by the fact that most of these products sell with minimal marketing efforts, thanks to the romance associated with being a princess.

As the generation of girls who grew up watching Disney films grew up, the company expanded the princess market, reasoning that middle class women who wore Disney princess dresses on Halloween as children might conceivably purchase Disney princess themed products in their adulthood. Some representatives of the princesszilla market can be found arranging Disney-themed weddings, complete with a princess gown for the bride; this development crosses the infamous bridezilla with the Disney-obsessed.

When Disney first began heavily producing the princess line, there was some criticism, especially from the feminist community. Some women felt that the Disney princesses might not be the best role models, and that marketing pink plastic baubles to young girls was not exactly empowering. When the princesszilla trend arose, this criticism continued; some critics believe that it infantalizes adult women by encouraging them to indulge in fantasy. It's also quite profitable for Disney, of course, because a committed princesszilla might go so far as to arrange a Disney-themed wedding at Disneyland or on a Disney branded cruise or property, thereby increasing profits for the parent company.

A little fantasy is not necessarily a bad thing; the inherent idea of “having a little princess in your life,” as Disney puts it, is thought to be charming by some women. It is also certainly possible for a princesszilla to be a successful and even powerful woman despite the fact that she sleeps on Cinderella sheets.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ladyjane — On Oct 26, 2011

@Mae82 - Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney princesses too along with Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Although I have to admit that Tinkerbell is my all time favorite Disney character. I have a little black leather purse with her logo on it. I don't know that she actually classifies as a princess but she's so appealing to me because she's so tiny, playful and magical.

By sneakers41 — On Oct 25, 2011

@Summing- I think that you are being a little hard on Disney. I think that every woman wants to feel beautiful and little girls are no different. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Many of the Disney stories are really stories that are adapted from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Most of their stories are hardly original to Disney.

I don’t mind if people have their opinions but I think that it is sad that little girls can’t dress in princess costumes and have fun with imaginative play without people thinking that it is more than it actually is.

I loved these fairytales as a little girl and I actually learned a lot of valuable lessons. My favorite princess, Cinderella taught me that you can overcome adversity because sooner or later you too will shine. That is a great message to get from this story. I guess it really depends on your point of view. The glass can be half empty or half full.

By Sinbad — On Oct 25, 2011

@tolleranza - Oh - you brought me back to when I was a kid watching these movies as a young girl as well.

From Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" I also remember the book scene! But really I just cared about how funny the talking candlestick was, and from Jasmine in "Aladdin" I learned that I really wanted to see what it was like to ride on a magic carpet.

Oh and with Mulan I remember her making my little child-self feel proud, not because she was a female being a warrior, but because she was trying to do the right thing. I know that sounds naive - but I was like eight when I watched it!

And I remember the "Pocahontas" movie too! From Pocahontas, I'm pretty sure that I wanted to go on a camping trip after that movie.

And I agree with you about Disney not teaching young girls to value wealth, I don't ever remember any of the princesses being greedy... and as far as valuing being pretty and romance - I don't think that Disney is alone in having that in their movies.

By tolleranza — On Oct 24, 2011

@summing - I think you have missed a few of the Disney motives in the idea that Disney is intimately responsible for teaching girls to "teach girls to value wealth, beauty and romance above all other features."

Have you seen the movies "Mulan," or "Pocahontas?" or "Beauty and the Beast"?

"Mulan" involves a girl who becomes a warrior, "Pocahontas" is, of course, loosely based on the Native American named Pocahontas in our history books and Disney wrote this character to teach John Smith about the beauty of nature.

And then there is Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" and she is a nerd - I have not seen the movie since I was a young girl and I still remember the beginning of the movie having Belle in it with an arm full of books.

I grew up watching these movies and reading these stories and I have not grown into a “princesszilla” nor did I ever dress up as a princess, rather I learned good lessons from the stories.

For example, I learned from Cinderella about being nice as opposed to being one of the mean step sisters. Because if you were nice, you might just have animals come help you do your chores and I thought that was really neat!

By summing — On Oct 24, 2011

@simrin - I think that feminists would say that while Disney princess might not be exclusively responsible for the strange phenomenon of adult princesses, the Disney company as a whole is intimately responsible.

Starting from a young age Disney movies teach girls to value wealth, beauty and romance above all other features. Little girls are quite literally indoctrinated into the cult of the princess and no matter who they grow up to be the seeds of this influence exist inside of them. And when you think about the way the larger culture puts so much pressure on women to be beautiful I think that you can begin to point fingers. These instincts don't come from nowhere. People aren't born wanting to be a princess. I think there is a lot to blame Disney for in this situation.

By chivebasil — On Oct 23, 2011

I don't know if this technically counts as princesszilla, but when my mom turned 50 she had a princess themed party for herself and another friend whose birthday was around the same time.

They made custom thrones, they both wore tiaras and they had typical courtly entertainment like a juggler and an acrobat. It might sound over the top but it was all really fun and nicely done and my mom got a big kick out of it. You only turn 50 once, you might as well make an event out of it.

But none of the stuff they bought was Disney brand. In fact, it all seemed to have been made for adult women. Maybe that means she is not princesszilla, she is just a middle aged woman wanting to feel special for a day.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 23, 2011

Princesszilla was not born in the marketing division of Walt Disney for no reason. The market produces whatever there is a demand for.

Criticism from the feminist community about this seems silly to me. Disney is not causing women to become engrossed in fantasy and romance. It's just attracting women who already are!

If there hadn't been a demand for Princesszilla products, it wouldn't have been produced. It's as simple as that.

It would make more sense for the feminist community to criticize women if they wish to. Walt Disney has little to do with it in my perspective. They are just financially taking advantage of the situation which already exists.

By fify — On Oct 22, 2011

@manykitties2- I completely agree with you that there is nothing wrong with being a Princesszilla.

One of my close friends is one, although she is ashamed of the fact. She has a little daughter and loves purchasing Disney princess Barbies, toys and items for her. The interesting part is that her daughter is not as interested in them as she is. When we go through the Barbie aisle, I see my friend staring in amazement at the Disney Princesses! I think it's very sweet.

To me, the Princesszilla market is no different than Hello Kitty. There are millions of women who purchase Hello Kitty items, from handbags, to makeup, to toys, to gadgets. We all have our interests and hobbies and I think it's perfectly normal for women to have an interest in pretty and cute objects like the Disney Princesses. Which woman would not dream of being a Princess?

By Mae82 — On Oct 22, 2011

@manykitties2 - I admit to being a bit of a princesszilla, as I got my wedding dress through Disney Bridal. I have always loved the movie The Beauty and the Beast and they have a gorgeous gown inspired by Belle.

My friends were a bit skeptical about spending that much on a dress, but it is just as beautiful as any of the more traditional designer gowns you would see. I always felt like The Beauty and the Beast was the ultimate romantic story, and it provided me with a fun theme.

Does anyone else have a favorite princesszilla item they've managed to acquire?

By manykitties2 — On Oct 21, 2011

I don't think there is anything wrong with an adult woman who likes to collect Disney princess items. What worries me is those that go as far as to get plastic surgery to look like something like Barbie.

A little fantasy in your life can be fun, and I have gone as Snow White for a Halloween party and it made quite the conversation piece. My boyfriend at the time was the Big Bad Wolf. I think that as long as you know it's just all for fun there is no harm in playing dress up or buying Disney items when you're older. After all, I grew up with the Disney films.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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