Dear Disney: Princesses Deserve Equal Pay Too

By April 3, 2019 Equal Pay

It’s 2019 and we’re talking about closing the gender pay gap… Just how many years will go by and we’ll still be talking about achieving equal pay for women? Sadly, no one knows.

Yet, there is some hope on the horizon in the form of lawsuits from women and attorneys fighting to close the gender pay gap. A recent lawsuit filed by long-time ACFW friends Lori Andrus and Jennie Anderson of Andrus Anderson alleges that the massively popular mega-media conglomerate Disney severely underpaid a female employee in comparison to a male employee doing the same job – for years.

Disney Princesses Equal Pay

As a 90s kid who grew up smack-dab in the middle of the Disney Renaissance, this case certainly peaked my attention. Not only were Disney animated movies an integral part of my childhood (and that of virtually every other 90s kid), but Disney has grown into such a massive media mega-corporation with nearly every major pop culture franchise (Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar – and now all things 20th Century Fox) that it’s impossible to get away from the mouse. But it turns out that the mouse may have horns.

I would think, looking at Disney from the outside, that the company would want to value women the most. For starters, Disney has made outrageous amounts of money by telling the stories of female characters, particularly in its animation division. Glancing through the company’s animated classics, more movies about female characters stand out compared to their male co-stars–in particular, the famous Disney Princesses (popularized during the 90s).

Not only does Disney like to tell stories about princesses, but Disney has also capitalized on and made outrageous amounts of money from female consumers. Ranging from young girls who fall in love with their favorite princess character and want absolutely every piece of merchandise with the character’s face on it, to (believe it or not) older women around my age who snatch up Disney Princess-branded wedding dresses or engagement rings because they often dreamed of being a princess as child (no, really, these things exist).

In recent years, Disney took a lot of flak for perpetuating the “damsel in distress” and other outdated female stereotypes, primarily through its older princess characters such as Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. In response, Disney countered the criticism by introducing more independent and diverse princess characters, such as the African-American princess Tiana from The Princess and Frog who works hard to achieve her dream of opening her own restaurant, the Polynesian princess Moana from the film of the same name, who is looking to protect her homeland and has no love interest, and of course the insanely popular Frozen sister duo of Anna and Elsa, whose story is focused on sisterly love rather than romantic love.

Above and beyond its modernized storylines, Disney has even injected some sense of female empowerment into its highly profitable Disney Princess brand with the campaign: “Dream Big, Princess.” This campaign promotes the idea that young girls should aspire to big dreams and be willing to work hard to achieve them. It’s vague and sounds really good, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth when I learned the truth — Disney pays its women less than their male counterparts.

So, Disney says it’s okay for young girls to have big dreams, but apparently that can’t include a fair pay check.

With so many female-centric marketing and merchandising tactics, you would think Disney would want women to have the disposable income needed to pay for all of these things. Yet, this equal pay case sends precisely the opposite message: Disney doesn’t value women. Disney doesn’t believe women should be able to make the same amount of money as their male colleagues doing the same work. Disney doesn’t want to pay their “princesses.” I guess they think women should rely on Prince Charming’s credit card, provided they even have a “Prince Charming” in their lives.

Seems really wrong, doesn’t it?

“Dream Big, Princess.” Just don’t dream too big.

If you work for Disney and believe that you may have been paid less than your male counterpart, you may be able to take part in this lawsuit. Contact us here to learn more.

– Amanda Billo
Digital Outreach, A Case for Women