Tale As Old As Time

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairy tale. Favorite Disney movie, favorite Robin McKinley fairy tale retelling, favorite original tale … basically, I’m a fan. So you can imagine that I was beside myself excited when Disney announced their live-action remake of my favorite fairy tale. And yesterday, I finally got to see it.

It’s been a while since I wrote about fairy tales, so many of you probably don’t know that I’m not just a fan of Disney. I love the original tales as well. In many cases, I like them more than the lighter, tamer, happier versions. It’s hard to believe there was a time when it was considered normal to read children bedtime stories where stepsisters hack their own toes off, children throw witches in ovens, and princes fall from towers into thorns that blind them.

They weren’t just creepy stories for kids, though. Fairy tales represent a rich folkloric tradition passed along and refined by both male and female storytellers. And plenty of research has gone into documenting these stories’ histories, discussing their role in society, and cataloging the different styles. Beauty and the Beast, for example, is 425C in the Aarne–Thompson classification system. It’s one of a surprisingly large number of animal groom fairy tales and most likely has it’s roots in the story of Cupid and Psyche.Tale As Old As Time: Thoughts on the origins, meaning, and newest adaptation of my favorite fairy tale | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Fairy tales have always generated discussion and debate. This time around, people are talking about bestiality and wondering why this “tale as old as time” has endured for so long with such twisted ideas at its roots. But if we equate the Beast with an animal we miss the point of the tale. Psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim believed the “animal groom” stories were “intended to reassure virginal brides about sex” (i.e. he seems scary, but once you get to know him he’s not so bad).

Beauty and the Beast goes deeper than most tales of this sub-type, though. What we know as Beauty and the Beast was first written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740. In this earliest version, as in subsequent versions, the Beast has to prove himself worth loving. Continue reading

Hidden Figures and NT-type Women

Contrary to popular belief, INTJs have emotions. They also express them, though not always to the person they’re having feelings about (for example, an INTJ might tell his best friend he likes a girl, but not tell the girl. Or an INTJ might tell her husband she hates a coworker, but never give the coworker a hint). INTJs tend to compartmentalize their feelings and process them internally, and they hate expressing deep emotions casually or to people they don’t know well.

hidden_ntIf you’re very observant, though, and get to know the INTJs in your life, you’ll start to realize there’s a remarkable depth to their feelings. They’ll even do things, like cry at movies, that are typically associated with Feeling personality types. They might scorn the things that are “supposed” to make you cry (e.g. I’m sniffling at a Pixar film and my INTJ sister laughs out loud in the theater). But then I’ll look over and notice moisture leaking from the corners of her eyes at the end of Hidden Figures (I’ve been informed it was not crying).

Hidden Figures (2016) is a fantastic film about “a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. ” They were among the first African-Americans and the first women to work in such prestigious technical roles. My sister, about to graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, gave me one explanation for her emotional response to the film: “these women and others like them made it possible for me to be an engineer.”

As the character Mary Jackson tells a judge, someone always has to be first. These women proved it’s possible for women to be taken seriously and make important contributions as mathematicians and engineers. But I suspect my sister’s words go deeper than referring to breaking down gender stereotypes about the kind of work women can do. It also has to do with people’s expectations for what women should be like.

hidden_nt_2Only 24-35% of women have a personality type that relies on Thinking as their primary or secondary mental process (according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type). INTJ and INTP women are tied for rarest at 1-3% of the female population. ENTJs come in a close third at 1-4%. ENTPs tie with ESTPs with 2-4%, just slightly more common than ISTPs at 2-3%. The STJ types aren’t nearly as rare, with ESTJs making up 6-8% and ISTJs 7-10% of the female population.

I’m not going to type the women in Hidden Figures, but having seen the film I think it’s safe to say Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are Thinking types. Their minds are naturally wired to excel at processing facts, figures, and data — a hall-mark of the fact-checking, analytical Thinking functions that use “impersonal criteria to make decisions.” I’d say Katherine at least is probably an Intuitive type as well, pairing pattern-recognition and possibility-seeking with her Thinking side.

That means she wasn’t just a rarity at NASA (an African-American woman working in a highly technical position). She’s also a rarity in society (a woman using both Intuition and Thinking as her most comfortable mental processes). Thinking traits are so strongly stereotyped as masculine that NT women often don’t fit cultural expectations for femininity. One of the many things I loved about Hidden Figures is that these three women seemed to have figured out a way to balance being wives and mothers with working as groundbreakingly successful mathematicians. They’re also portrayed as real people who are admired and respected for who they are instead of as the bitchy, controlling, or cold stereotype we often get when presented with Thinking female characters (take Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal as an example). And the men they’re in relationships with aren’t scared of them or trying to fit them back in boxes.

It was really wonderful to see characters that embraced femininity on their own terms. While I do believe God created the two genders to be different and complementary in the roles we fill, I also think there are stereotypes in our culture that do both genders a disservice. One of those is that women are or “should” be more emotion-driven than analytically-minded. There’s room for both. And, as Hidden Figures reminds us, we would do ourselves a terrible disservice if we tried to keep these women hidden.click to read article, "Hidden Figures and NT-type Women" | marissabaker.wordpress.com






Part Two: “Unofficial” Disney Princesses MBTI Chart

Last week, I updated an old post called The Missing Disney Princesses with a brand new MBTI Chart featuring the 14 official princesses (well, technically there are 11 official princesses, plus Anna and Elsa who have their own line, and Moana who hasn’t been crowned yet. So it was more like the “Official + New/Popular Princesses Chart”).

There are other Disney women, though, who’ve been completely snubbed by the Disney princess line-up and I wanted to include those as well. I had them on a separate chart in my previous post and I wanted to follow that pattern this time as well. Eilonwy and Alice were the most requested characters I left out last time, so I’m adding them. And I’ve also added a character no one asked about from my favorite underappreciated Disney films — Maid Marion from Robin Hood.Updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart, Part Two | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Note: I’m not using anything from sequel films (just to help narrow-down the typing choices), so that’s why you won’t see Ariel’s daughter Melody (for example). I also type using cogitative functions. If you’re not familiar with that aspect of Myers-Briggs theory, click here and here for a two-part introduction. Read on for detailed explanations for why I chose these types for the unofficial princesses, and click here for the post about the other princesses.

Continue reading

Updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart

A couple years ago, I made a Myers-Briggs chart called The Missing Disney Princesses that quickly became one of the more popular posts on my blog. Now (finally!!!) I get to update it to include our new princess, Moana.

But I’m not just adding Moana to my chart. I’m also moving around a few of the other princesses. Last time, my focus was on showing that we don’t see all the personality types represented by the Disney princesses. Both Intuitive and Thinking types are under represented among Disney’s ladies. That’s still the case, but this time my focus is on explaining why I typed each princess the way I did.

In the two years since publishing the last chart, I’ve learned more about Myers-Briggs typing. I’ve also re-watched several of these movies, considered comments from readers on the previous post, and asked advice from fellow personality type and Disney enthusiasts. In response, I’ve re-typed several characters (which is noted and explained in the individual character discussions).Updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Note: I type using cogitative functions. If you’re not familiar with that aspect of Myers-Briggs theory, click here and here for a two-part introduction. Read on for detailed explanations for why I chose these types for each character. Continue reading

Dark Side or Light?

The dark side is quick, easy and powerful. The light side requires commitment, bravery and peace. They are always at odds, always battling in the galaxy as a whole, between groups of people, and even within individual hearts and minds.

Star Wars has always been about the classic battle between good and evil. This same battle rages in our world as well, which is one of the reasons this franchise is so popular. We can all relate to the humanity and struggles of the people in this “galaxy far, far away.” It’s a sort of myth or fairy tale for the modern age. And, like many iconic stories, it can prompt discussions about a variety of topics important today, including faith and religion.

Do you walk on the dark side or the light? | marissabaker.wordpress.com

In Star Wars, the Dark Side is the “quick and easy” path, just as in the Bible the path toward destruction is wide and easy to find. Darkness has a strong, seductive pull which actually mirrors an analogy in Proverbs where evil is compared to a crafty harlot while wisdom is a gentle, godly woman.  But Star Wars teaches the Dark Side isn’t better – the good characters resist it and win, the bad characters find that it ruins their lives and the lives of those around them. Continue reading

The Missing Disney Princesses

UPDATE 12/19/2016: Hello, all. I’ve heard your comments, re-watched films, and re-typed some princesses (and added Moana!). Click here to check out my brand-new updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart.

You may have seen those images with a Myers-Briggs chart that matches up an MBTI type for each character in a series or film. I did one for Lord of the Rings, the Star Wars one was quite popular for a while, and I’ve seen others for Hunger Games and Downton Abbey, to name just a few. Another you might have seen features Disney princesses.

The problem with these types of charts is it assumes there’s an example of each of the 16 types available. Unfortunately, they’re not always so evenly represented (I had this problem trying to type people in Lord of the Rings — there’s an unusually high number of introverts). Since there’s only 13 “official” Disney princess (if you count Elsa and Anna, who haven’t been officially crowned yet), that makes it rather difficult to come up with 16 types. On top of that, there also seems to be certain personality types which make “better” princesses than others, so there is some overlap. All together, the 13 official princesses represent 11 different personality types:

An MBTI chart for Disney's official princesses. I’ll give descriptions of each type in a moment, along with a bit on why I think they fit each princess. But first, 13 princesses really isn’t that many — they couldn’t have filled out the chart even if there wasn’t any overlap. So let’s add a few of the “unofficial” princesses: Jane, Kida, Giselle, Megara, Nala, and Esmerelda. We’ve now added six more characters, but only filled in two more MBTI types.

An MBTI chart for Disney's official and unofficial princesses.

The “missing” princesses can be explained by the fact that the NF and NT types are less common in real life. The lack of ESTJs (with the possible exceptions of Jane and Kida) is explainable by Isabel Myer’s observation that it is “the most traditionally ‘masculine’ type.” But one of the reasons Disney has been pressured to introduce more racially diverse Princesses is that little girls should be able to see people like them represented in the stories they enjoy. But what about the little INTJ and INTP girls, who see very few positive portrayals of their personality type, especially as female characters? (I asked my INTJ sister if she could think of any female characters who she identifies with as a similar personality and the only one she could come up with was  Dr. Temperance Brennan from Bones.)

Looking back at the chart of just the 13 official princesses, most of the missing personality types are thinkers: ESTJ, ENTJ, INTJ, and INTP. You could say that’s because most women are feeling types, but that’s a bit like saying most books are paperback instead of hardcover. There are more feeling-type women, but there are certainly plenty of thinking-type women as well. The only official Disney princesses who are thinking types right now are Jasmine, Mulan, Merida, and Tiana. The next Disney movie will feature their first Polynesian princess, Moana, and I think I would be awesome if she was also their first “official” princess who was an ESTJ, ENTJ, INTJ, or INTP. Or an ENFJ, since they’ve been left out, too.

Type Explanations for The Princesses

Disclaimer: typing fictional characters is a great way to stir-up disagreements, and it’s very rare that people agree on a typing. The types I’ve gone with for each character reflect my personal feelings, supported by reading other people’s thoughts on websites like personalitycafe.com and this excellent blog post. Please feel free to disagree, and let me know in the comments how you’d type these princesses 🙂

SJ types

The personality group that David Keirsey refereed to as “Guardians” is the best represented in this grouping of Disney characters. It’s really not surprising — they make good heroes and about 40 to 45 percent of the population falls into this group. SJ types are hardworking people who enjoy helping others and want to “do their duty.”

ESTJs are take-charge people who are practical, well-grounded, loyal and organized. They enjoy new experiences that appeal to their senses, such as meeting new people and traveling to a new place. They often ignore their intuition and base most of their decision on past experience. None of the official princesses fit this type, but Jane Porter from Tarzan and Kida from Atlantis might be ESTJs (honestly, I’m not sure, but I’m not sure where else to put them either).

The ISTJ is a very responsible type, and they are extremely hardworking. They value decisiveness and logic, with little time for make-believe or patience with other people’s oversights. Practical and fact-oriented, they are honest and dependable. Tiana from The Princess and the Frog is an ISTJ.

ESFJs are warm, friendly, and people-oriented. They value loyalty, friendship, and harmony. They are typically practical people with well-defined ideas that they aren’t afraid to share. Anna from Frozen is a very good example of this type, particularly in showing the strongly social side of ESFJs and their tendency to trust people quickly. Snow White is another example, and we could also add the “unofficial” princess Giselle, since she was patterned after Snow White’s personality.

ISFJs are as hardworking as ISTJs, but more interested in people than than in facts. They are very considerate, loyal, and will put up with quite a bit of abuse before provoking a conflict. ISFJs aren’t likely to express their inner ideas and feelings except with close friends. Cinderella is a good example of this type.

SP types

Keirsey called the SP types “Artisans,” because they work well with solid objects — whether it’s a weapon or a paintbrush. This group of personality types focuses on the now, and tends to be both fun-loving and realistic. 30 to 35 percent of the population fits in this group.

ESTPs like to take action — they don’t enjoy sitting around and waiting for something to happen. They are realistic, adaptable, and enjoy physical activities. In the case of Merida from Brave, this includes horseback riding and archery. They hate feeling confined, and are impatient with theories or ideas that they can’t see practical application for.

ISTP types are good with tasks that involve some kind of physical skill, and they like to take the time to think before acting so they can complete tasks in them most efficient way. They might seem aloof from other people, but do care about equality and fairness for groups and individuals. Mulan is an example of this type, and so is the “unofficial” princess Megara from Hercules.

ESFPs are friendly and focused on other people. They like observing as well as interacting with others, and have a powerful sense of curiosity. Material possessions interest them, and they often have some kind of a collection that they find ascetically pleasing. They hate structure and confinement as much as ESTPs. Ariel from The Little Mermaid is an excellent example of this type.

The ISFP type likes to work with people and meet their needs, but is generally quiet and reserved. Isabel Myer says they often “have a special love of nature and a sympathy for animals.” Like other SP types, they work well with their hands and are in tune with external sensory details (including things like music). Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is hard to type since she has so little screen-time, but she seems like an ISFP to me.

NF types

Types who rely on Intuition are more rare than Sensing types. The NF types who Keirsey called “Idealists” make up only 15 to 20 percent of the population. They are romantic, intuitive, spiritual, and seek good. Though their rarity in Disney is reflected by rarity in reality, it’s really surprising that this type isn’t more prevalent in fairy tale stories, especially since most NF types (though certainly not all) are women.

ENFJs are very social and have excellent people stills. They have a gift for expressing themselves and can influence other people (usually they have a very strong aversion to hurting others, but they have the potential to be manipulative). Typically honest and imaginative, they may hide their opinions in order to avoid disagreements and maintain harmony. None of the Disney princesses are ENFJs.

We finally got an INFJ Disney princess when Frozen was released last year (and I’ve already written about Elsa as an INFJ). This is the rarest personality type. INFJs are focused on their inner worlds of possibility and rely heavily on their intuition. They care deeply about other people, and avoid conflict as much as possible even if it means hiding their true self.

ENFPs are creative, imaginative, and artistic. They are easily excited by new ideas, but only follow through on pursuing the most important goals. Possibility excites them, and they love interacting with people and sharing their dreams and ideas. Rapunzel, sometimes typed as an ENFJ, is more typical of the ENFP type.

INFPs value internal harmony and have deep feelings that are rarely expressed to other people. They often seem like outsiders in their society and are more concerned with their inner moral code than with external expectations. Even so, they interact well with other people and are very loyal. Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas are both examples of this type.

NT types

“Rationals,” as Keirsey described the NT types, are the rarest group — only 5 to 10 percent of the population. They are skeptical, analytical, and independent. Their rarity helps explain why there aren’t more Disney princesses in this category, along with the fact that most (though certainly not all) NT types are men.

ENTJs are problem-solvers who like to lead. They are curious about new possibilities, and enjoy theoretical problem solving as well as coming up with practical solutions for current problems. They are very forceful and decisive. None of the human princesses fit this type. Nala from The Lion King acts very much like an ENTJ, though, especially as an adult who leaves her pride to go off and find a solution to the problem of Scar.

The INTJ personality type is almost as rare as INFJs, and female INTJs are the rarest gender-type combination. They are often cast as villains in fiction, which is a shame because they make such wonderful scientists and detectives (like Basil of Bakerstreet from The Great Mouse Detective, to use Disney as an example [Update: after re-watching this film, I now type Basil as an INTP. Click here to read why]). INTJs are innovative, clever, and very organized. If something isn’t logically challenging, it rarely holds their interest.

ENTPs tend to be independent and a bit impersonal. They are more concerned with their projects and plans than with how those plans will affect other people. They don’t like routine, preferring new experiences that challenge their quick minds. ENTPs are versatile, clever, and enthusiastic about understanding their worlds. Jasmine and the “unofficial” princess Esmeralda are examples of this type.

INTPs are described by Isabel Myer as “the most intellectually profound of all the types.” They are curious, logical, easily bored, and focus on creating theory regardless of whether or not it has practical application. They often have trouble relating to people because they see little value in feelings and find it hard to explain their ideas in a way that makes sense non-experts. None of the Disney princesses fit this type.