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Starting with The Princess and the Frog (2009), every Disney princess movie has included a scene where the princess is a child.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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Tangled (2010)

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Brave (2012) (yeah, I know it's technically Pixar, work with me)

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Frozen (2013)

anna and elsa

The only other Disney princess (I can think of) who was a child in her movie is Aurora, who was a baby for story purposes so that she could get cursed. We're introduced to every other princess as an adult/teenager. I have my own theory about why the trend so suddenly and uniformly arose, but I would like to hear other people's thoughts.

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+1 - Interesting observation. And don't forget to post your own theory as answer, too (or maybe as part of the question if it doesn't suffice for an answer, but don't hold it back). And are you sure about the plot-device tag? – Napoleon Wilson Mar 12 '14 at 9:40
I like this question. I've done some basic searching, but I can't find anything definitive. An interview with a Disney executive would be good. I hadn't even thought about it until you mentioned it. – Andrew Martin Mar 12 '14 at 10:25
As to the Pixar statement above ... doesn't Disney own Pixar? I think you're right on topic and we don't need to work with you on that one ;-) ... Also, didn't Cinderella start out as a child? Just thinking ... – ᴘᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 12 '14 at 11:58
@Paulster2: To be honest, all the princesses are kids. Snow White was 14 for instance -… – Andrew Martin Mar 12 '14 at 12:10
@AndrewMartin for the purposes of this question, I'm defining kid as a version of the character at a totally different age than during most of the movie, and under 10. – vastra360 Mar 12 '14 at 16:12

You may not want to believe it but they use psychoanalysts/psychologists in the motion picture industry to asses "what sells the story better" trends, habits etc. They've obviously worked out that kids can relate to the characters better if the character is a more like themselves. It makes perfect logical sense in fact. Don't forget that movie making is a business. The more $$$$$$ = better for the studios.

Checkout an amazing documentary called: The Century Of The Self - Adam Curtis

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Whilst this answer may well be right, it really needs references/materials to support it, e.g. interviews with Disney personnel, research showing changing trends of children's animated movies, etc. – Andrew Martin Mar 12 '14 at 13:54

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