“Fallen Princess” Jasmine Raises Questions About Stereotypes

by Latoya Peterson

When I first spotted this photo over at Jezebel, I didn’t know what to think.

Photographer/Artist Dina Goldstein created the “Fallen Princesses” series as a response to her children’s burgeoning interest in Disney. There are seven photos currently available, featuring Belle, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Snow White. The women are placed in a modern setting, so Rapunzel is shown with her braid around her feet after going through chemotherapy and Cinderella is shown drinking at a bar.

While I liked the idea behind the concept, I was brought up short when we got to Jasmine. Deviating from more gender-based themes, Jasmine is put squarely in a war zone, clutching an M-16 and rocking purple camo. While the commenters over at Jezebel cheered Jasmine’s competent and in control facial expression and the fact that the scene was not about her helpless, I found myself hesitating. Why did Jasmine’s story default to her racial background, and why was the idea of the modern day “Agrabah” assumed to be a conflict site?

Over at JPG, where the images originally appeared, the comments ranged from outright love to…well…

On 16 June 2009 What What said:

As a good muslim, Jasmine would have an AK47 and bombs strapped around her instead of bullets.

That was quick.

Another commenter at JPG notes:

On 17 June 2009 Drew Clayton said:

I came to see this because I’d heard rumors about a photo online showing Jasmine “as a terrorist.” Obviously, it was spread by people who had not seen the image themselves, or who do not have a grasp on conceptual thinking. She’s obviously fighting in a war zone, not wearing a suicide belt to the market. I’d look at this and say she’s being a good national leader protecting her war-torn country against malicious forces in person instead of sending soldiers out to die for her.

It’s fascinating that Jasmine’s interpretation is receiving such reviews. Readers, what are your thoughts?

(Thanks to reader Quincy for pointing this out!)

  • Mariette Valsan

    Once you put in the situation in perspective, it is obvious that there is a play of race that determines the responses here. Because she is not white, and from the original stories, from the Middle east,her situation is automatically drawn parallel with that of a war. It becomes a part of the heavy stereotyping that is prominent about the middle east. One may also argue that in the same scenario, she is potrayed as a liberal woman, fighting her own wars. But it still does not take away from the deep-rooted issue that the assumption has been made based on race.