A Planned Parenthood center in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, is catching flack for tweeting on Tuesday morning, “We need a Disney princess who’s had an abortion.”
The tweet was a riff on one of this week’s big Twitter memes, in which users have been making increasingly Dadaist requests for a greater variety of Disney role models for young girls. According to various tweets, we not only need Disney princesses who are fat—as the tweet that seems to have started it all recommended—but those who drink boxed wine, tend to marijuana plants, and act out the lyrics of various songs by Vanessa Carlton, Cake, and the Killers.
Planned Parenthood Keystone tried to get in on the action in a clumsy manner typical of institutions that try to shoehorn some on-brand messaging into silly memes. Its full tweet also called for Disney princesses who are transgender, undocumented, pro-choice, and union workers.
The spirit of the tweet is understandable. In a perfect world, entertainment marketed to girls would reflect the diversity of the audience, with representations of broader spectrums of race, class, ability, body type, and gender identity. But, of course, it’s absurd to expect Disney princesses to cover every possible identity and life experience, especially when their rudimentary storylines usually hinge on magic, not potentially traumatic experiences like dealing with the threat of deportation or an unintended teen pregnancy.
Still, this is a bad look for a reproductive rights organization that has long had to defend itself against bogus claims that it encourages little girls to have promiscuous sex and get abortions! Even if we accept that it would be good for young people to learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights in positive, nonthreatening ways, a tweet advocating for Disney to make a movie about an abortion is a very bad PR move for a group that is perpetually in the crosshairs of politicians hungry for excuses to roll back women’s rights. News outlets are already conflating Planned Parenthood itself with the smaller Pennsylvania outpost that posted the bad tweet. Fox News has rolled the tweet into at least one performatively aghast segment that could have been written by a right-wing neural network. And Donald Trump Jr. has predictably inserted himself into the mess, prompting Trump fans to tweet things like, “We need a Disney princess who has children and is happily married to their father,” and, “We need a Disney princess who immigrated here legally.” (That last one would actually be pretty OK—any immigrant Disney princess would still be new ground for the series.)
Planned Parenthood Keystone’s president and CEO said in a statement that the group was trying to “make a point about the importance of telling stories that challenge stigma,” but that “upon reflection, we decided that the seriousness of the point we were trying to make was not appropriate for the subject matter or context.” The organization has since deleted the tweet, but mourn not: Its spirit will live on forever in the right-wing memory.