From Our ReadersIn defense of Disney princessesFrom Our Readers
, Disney’s most talked about offering since the nineties, I’ve read and heard plenty of what I would call “off” comments about the Disney princesses of my childhood. As happened with
, the introduction of a Disney princess who “doesn’t need a man” seems to have given people, even Disney fans, the license to lay into all the princesses who have gone before. They say, “Finally a good role model for girls!” Well, I object to that. You can play the feminist card all you want, but feminism should be about sisterhood, celebrating all kinds of women and the right for girls to be themselves. The princesses of the Disney renaissance—Belle, Jasmine, Ariel, Mulan, Pocahontas—are all strong female role models. Smart, free-spirited, kind, brave; but we’re going to discriminate against them just because they happened to fall in love?
OK, maybe you all need further convincing, so I’ll try and invalidate some of the myths surrounding our princesses. Starting with possibly the biggest misconception of them all:
Name me one Disney princess whose main outfit is pink. Can you do that? Aurora’s dress is pink only for the purposes of the Disney princess merchandise, as there is too much blue in the line-up. Cinderella wears blue. Snow White wears blue and yellow. Belle’s main dresses are blue and yellow. Jasmine wears blue. Ariel tends to wear blue when she’s wearing clothes at all. Pocahontas wears beige—but a blue necklace. Wendy, Alice in Wonderland, that one from Atlantis (does she count?). Rapunzel, and Meg wear purple, Jane wears yellow, Esmeralda wears red. Mulan wears pink briefly, but since she’s in armor for the majority of the film, I think we can excuse that one. It is true that little girls are indoctrinated into thinking pink, pink, pink, but Disney ain’t the main culprit.
So the misconception here is that all Disney princesses want in life is to find a man to marry them and take them away to his castle. This might be true for some, but when you actually watch the films, the majority of the princesses know that there are some things more important than finding the love of your life. So Snow White hopes that some day her prince will come and Ariel’s willing to risk everything for a boy she’s seen for five minutes. But most of these girls have bigger dreams. Tiana wants to own her own restaurant, Belle wants more than to be somebody’s “little wife,” Jasmine questions the law that requires her to marry at fifteen, and when she does find her true love, she is prepared to let him go, as she knows the right thing is for Aladdin to free the Genie and so cease to be a prince. Pocahontas objects to marrying Kokoum—the brave and handsome husband picked out for her—and when she does meet someone she prefers, she realizes that it is more important she stay with her people, than leave with the man she loves. Even Aurora sacrifices love (the “peasant boy” she met in the woods) to return and do her duty as princess. Even for Ariel, the biggest romantic of all, it’s not just about Eric. Her dream is to be a part of the human world, and she does all she can to achieve that. And that’s all before we even get to Merida!
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Love you! I love Disney princesses and I hate all the hate they get.
FINALLY! I’ve been wanting o write an article like this for a long time. When I was growing up I took away something completely different from the princess movies than what people are taking away today. And this is it. They are strong, courageous, kind, and hard working, they dream of bigger things. And that shaped who I am today. Not the “I need a man because i’m girly and weak” message (nothing wrong with being girly.) But people need to watch the movies again. Because the message that the “brand” is sending is not present in the movies.
I like this. What I don’t like is that “Disney Princess” is a BRAND. Some of them are not even princesses… Alice? Mulan? Rapunzel is a princess in her movie, but in the original story she’s just some random pretty girl… she marries royalty… and bam! That Prince really gets his ass kicked… talk about wicked witches keeping young girls in tow… Nimee Amee from Baum’s Oz stories did get two men hacked to pieces both the Tin Woodman and the Tin Soldier… that’s pretty awful too… but I’m on a tangent… Disney Princess doesn’t actually mean literally royal. and that is my main complaint. girls you put as “Disney Princesses” on there who are not royal: Alice, Wendy (Tigerlily is the only stated Princess in that movie if Pochahontas counts, but not Wendy), and Esmeralda.
What I’d really like to say is that there are three Disney girls, who ARE Royal, and ARE Strong, Brave, and generally sort of “kickass” who are never mentioned in the same breath as the others, well: Tigerlily, I already mentioned… she’s “Native American” Neverland royalty? Or something… they call her “Princess Tigerlily,” Princess Eilonwy from “The Black Cauldron” who with just a little help from Tarren… and mostly it’s she and a magic sword who do the “leg-work”… watch the movie… it’s good, trust me… I gotta do a video on this now… anyway, she’s awesome, and also Princess Calla, who is not in a movie, but she is a Disney Princess and is from one of my other favorite semi-forgotten Disney Things… The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, no not the candy… gummi berry juice, which makes Gummi Bears bounce, and gives humans super strength for some reason… the main human character is Cavin, sort of a young squire-in-training, who… just the show… anyway, Calla is also very important and all three are good role models for girls. Calla wears Blue, Tigerlily wears brown/beige, Eilonwy wears a black and pink combo (black and pink… interesting choice there…???) Whatever, Eilonwy is still kick-ass. All of them are young teens I’d say, no love-interest, and are generally good role models for young girls so… what is keeping them away from that “oh-so-precious Disney Princess Brand thing…”
Let’s see: 1) Tigerlily is not the star of the movie she is in, but appears only briefly. 2) Calla isn’t in a movie, just a TV show, and the stars are the Gummi Bears, not her or Cavin. 3) Eilonwy is in a movie Disney is still trying to wish away but cannot b/c it was a big flop and b/c they think it’s too scary for kids… Disney… NEWS FLASH… the Horned King is really not that scary when compared to some of the images in MANY of your films… too long to list… goodnight! Merry Something!!!
Thank you! Finally a post about Disney princesses that I want to share!
Bravo! *claps* I quite agree and have always thought similarly. Yes every Disney movie reflects the values of its time, as you said, but they are not all completely negative. In fact, I agree with your positive take on these princesses. And Merida is not a story about a girl not wanting to get married, her story is about mothers and daughters.
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