Why Every Disney Princess Has The Same Nose
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
It’s not news that animated characters have unrealistic noses. For one, Patrick has no nose. Arthur also has no nose despite being a literal aardvark. I had to look up whether Hello Kitty has a nose, which is a Mandela effect if I ever saw one. But there’s something particular to movies lately we just find hard to ignore.
Why is it that all Disney princesses have the same nose?
Cartoons are all about exaggeration. Every emotion is bigger; every slip, trip and fall is more extreme. Because the nose is so prominent - smack in the middle of your face, a vertical contrast to your horizontal eyes and mouth - cartoonists often default to playing up (or down) this feature.
As social animals, we tend to personify a lot. We manage to find faces in everything, from clouds to burnt toast, and are quick to warm up to Siri and Alexa. It follows that we like things that are very expressive.
The nose is probably your least expressive feature - the mouth can smile, frown and speak, and the eyes give away things your mouth won’t say. Even your ears turn red when you’re embarrassed (and, if you’re really cartoon-mad, produce steam). But your nose? It’s mostly just there. So it follows that animators would go wild with sizing the nose. By deemphasizing the nose, the eyes and pout look that much bigger.
Disney has been criticized for using prominent or crooked noses to signify villainous traits. This is cliche is so well-established it even has a dedicated entry in TV Tropes called Sinister Schnoz. There was a lot of talk a few years ago about this phenomenon when someone diligently compared every female protagonist from recent Disney/Pixar projects and found they all had the same tiny nose. (Though many a Reply Guy will point out that there are villains with small or non-existent noses, like Voldemort or Red Skull. Outliers, people!)
Similarly, the Tumblr nose - so-called because it’s characteristic of fan art styles popularized on the medium - is a near-nonexistent button with a drop of red blush. The pink adds a sense of depth to avoid drawing the anatomy. There is a precedent for noses being colored differently than the rest of the face (see: Pinocchio, one of the Seven Dwarves, etc.).
But what's key to the princess nose isn’t just its size, but its shape. You’ll never see a princess with anything less than a perfectly perky tip. Even accounting for differences in nostril width or bridge height, all of these royal noses disappear in the straight-on view.
It may be that artists are pretty much lazy. If you’ve ever tried to draw a nose, you know how hard it is to make it look not insane. There are so many relationships within the nose that determine how your unique one looks: the breadth, the maxilla, the philtrum (???). Like hands in so many middle school sketchbooks, we’re all guilty of finding ways to avoid drawing this feature altogether.
With these cutesy, teeny noses, it's a fair chance your Disney faves would suffer from complications like nasal obstruction, snoring, and even sleep apnea. So much for Sleeping Beauty! Here at HALE, we’re developing a discreet product for improved nasal breathing you can wear from day to night.
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And be sure to keep your nose in our business by keeping up with Schnozmopolitan.