As you watch in awe as your children create alternative worlds and explore new kingdoms with their beloved characters, it's easy to see how Disney encourages kids to dream big. But leading a happy, lively life doesn't mean you have to be a princess, which is why Disney recently launched the #DreamBigPrincess photo campaign, highlighting real-life role models beyond Disney's fictional leading ladies. They reached out to 19 female photographers from around the world and encouraged them to shoot inspiring women, including the youngest-ever speaker at the United Nations, the leader of Afghanistan's first female cycling team and many more courageous, brave ladies.
The campaign encourages social media users on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share their female role models and their dreams for their future, all for a good cause. For any public post of a photo that uses the #DreamBigPrincess hashtag—or any time someone likes one of those posts—Disney Worldwide Services will donate $1 to The United Nations Foundation's Girl Up Campaign, which supports adolescent girls' leadership and empowerment, for a minimum of $500,000 and up to a maximum of $1 million. (So like away!)
Here, two photographers share why they were inspired to join this social movement and how they hope their images will provoke strong girls everywhere:
Photographer and mom Ashima Narain will never forget when her oldest of three children saw the video of Frozen's "Let It Go" for the first time. Though she was only 2 years old, it made an impact. "The song, the visuals, and the range of emotion felt by Elsa somehow resonated with a girl who could barely string a sentence together. Since then, through Disney films and characters, we have journeyed through ice, traveled to towers, and braved dragons because it has caught the imagination of our children," Narain said. So when Disney reached out asking her to be part of #DreamBigPrincess, the answer was simple.
For her contribution to the project, Ashima decided to feature a group she works often with, a NGO in India called Magic Bus. Even though their main focus it to help educate marginalized children, one factor that struck a chord for Ashima—especially as an Indian woman—is how they "inculcate physical confidence into adolescent girls through sport." For her image, she wanted to recreate the traditional "girl's task" of collecting water to help girls understand their own challenges—and think bigger. "I felt it aligns with the concept of a Disney princess who faces challenges and overcomes them," she shared. "I think it is important for children to recognize that challenges exist in all cultures and communities, and through their imagination they can find solutions to overcome them."
As a mom to two girls, aged 9 and 12, photographer Kate Parker says she feels a responsibility to create images that show girls and young women being strong, confident and powerful. "Through stories and imagery from real-life role models, I love that this campaign is encouraging kids to dream big and not to limit themselves. I am a big believer in that if you never see something, you can't dream it," she shared.
For the #DreamBigPrincess project, she shot two concepts: a group of 9- and 10-year-old girls who are on the soccer team she co-coaches and a young teenager, 14-year-old Grace, who has encountered more obstacles and setbacks in her life than many people do in their lifetime. "Every time, she finds joy. She finds grace," Kate shared. Her motivation behind the soccer team? One keyword: awesome. "I wanted to show that princesses can be many, many things, including awesome and completely mud-covered," she said. "I hope kids see what is possible. I hope this inspires them to realize that there are no limits to what they can do, be, accomplish or dream."