If there’s one thing Disney is known for, it’s their line of princesses. Beginning in 1937 with Snow White, Disney has helped create the image surrounding what it means to be a princess. Now, 80 years later Disney is still chugging along on that princess train, with a new princess movie being released nearly every year. From Cinderella and Aurora to Tiana and Moana, Disney has an entire span of princesses.
Despite their range of princesses to choose from, Disney has received a lot of flack for their portrayal of girls. The earlier films in particular are a sign of the times and have been criticized for their depiction of girls as passive who desire nothing more than to find a prince. Again, it was a different time, a cop out excuse, but necessary to note. Still, Disney changed what it means to be a princess and that includes both the older films and the more recent ones.
Disney proved that anyone can be a princess, whether you’re born into it, a servant girl, a mermaid or even a frog. The purpose isn’t to actually be a princess, the point is to show that no matter what your background is, you can be who you want. In other words, they changed the stereotype that all princesses wear crowns and dance around in high heels, some of them don’t even have feet.
A princess, according to Disney, is not only kind and understanding but smart and resourceful. Look at Belle, Jasmine, Rapunzel and Mulan to name a few. Belle loved to read, there’s literally a song about how the villagers judge her for reading. Girl was smart, now she’s a queen and they’re still peasants so what does that tell you. Jasmine constantly proved how resourceful she was from escaping the palace to helping banish Jafar. Rapunzel tracked stars like an astronomer and used her hair to get her and Flynn out of trouble. Mulan saved China! Nuff said.
Princesses are leaders. They don’t just sit around waiting for some knight to save the day they face the action head on. After Elsa ran off, Anna took charge of the castle. She gave out the orders of what was to be done and then went forth to bring back Elsa. This was a girl who had been locked in a castle her whole life and she took control of the situation like a bawse. Even Snow White, was a leader, just think about where those dwarves would be without her.
They’re also brave explorers who thrive on adventure. Pocahontas ventured into the unknown when she decided to befriend John Smith. She learned as much as she taught him, not to mention ‘Just Around The Riverbend’ is a song dedicated to taking the path (or river) less traveled. Ariel left her home behind to explore the world up above. She couldn’t talk either, but that sure as heck didn’t stop her, she wanted to see the land and she saw it.
A princess is a hard worker. Tiana is by definition a hard worker, she worked two jobs to make her dream come true. Even when she turned into a frog, she did her best to find a solution including braving the bayou and befriending an alligator. Merida is a skilled archer, swordswoman and rider. She didn’t get those skills over night, she worked hard and dedicated endless hours in order to the range.
Putting your opinions of Disney aside, at the end of the day none of the girls wanted to find a prince: Ariel wanted to walk on land, Rapunzel wanted to see the lights, Mulan wanted to protect her father, Cinderella wanted a night off, Tiana wanted her restaurant, Merida wanted to control her own destiny, the list goes on.
Princesses aren’t spoiled little brats who parade around in heels and tiaras all day (which is not easy): they’re strong, they’re independent and they’re inspirational. So go ahead, call someone a princess it doesn’t make you any less a peasant.