Today: Jun 17, 2024

Today’s Disney princesses: Feminism in princess roles

Mackenzie Hurlbert – Copy Editor

Princesses. Almost every girl growing up wants to be one, right? I know I was a princess for Halloween in Kindergarten, and I practically worshipped Snow White. You don’t have to love pink and glitter to admire Belle’s intellect or Pocahontas’s independent attitude. Since princesses play such role models for young girls, shouldn’t they be more than beautiful? How about intelligent, willful, and independent? Now that sounds like someone to look up to, and I think Disney agrees.

Photo Courtesy |
Princess Rapunzel from the movie Tangled.

I read an article on that ranked Disney princesses from least to most feminists. Of course those like Ariel who traded her voice for a shot with a guy were ranked low on the list, but it’s clear that as Disney has created more princesses, they’ve held stronger, feminist roles. Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Jasmine, and Belle are all role models who influence girls to decide what they want in their lives and to pursue it. Jasmine from Aladdin refuses to be objectified, saying, “I am not a prize to be won.” While not historically accurate, Disney’s Pocahontas rebels against her tribe and societal views by fighting for her own future and becoming friendly with one of the white settlers. Rapunzel from Tangled is one of my favorites, because throughout the movie you can see her develop from a meek, sheltered girl to a determined and courageous princess who goes after what she wants and escapes from her oppressive captor’s grasps. As the article said, she is one of the few Disney princesses to wield a weapon, a frying pan which she is quite adept with, and I also really like that she has a pet chameleon—in my eyes, that’s much cooler than Cinderella’s mice.

Of course I have not forgotten the one princess who epitomizes feminism, who proves that women are equal to men, and who, as the article says, overtly challenges the gender roles of her society. Any guesses? It’s princess warrior Mulan. This princess is pretty awesome. She joins the Chinese military to take her father’s place, she saves the men and the Chinese Empire from the Huns, and what I admire most about her is that she stays headstrong even when there’s no one there to support her… now that’s much more inspirational than waiting around for your Prince to bring back your glass slipper. Mulan’s a fighter, and though she makes a few messes and faces some dissension, her strong spirit, independent mindset, and outspokenness persists.

Think about it! It’s awesome that Disney princesses have evolved from spacey beauties to determined spirits! Looking back, Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora was just that—a pretty girl who was vacant headed and whose life depended on a man’s kiss.

Nowadays girls have princesses like Merida from Brave and Rapunzel from Tangled to look up to. Merida’s an independent woman who fights for her freedom and her own hand in marriage; she does not wait around swooning over a prince charming or trade her voice for a date, and instead, she takes action to achieve what she wants in life, which is much more than a kiss or royal wedding. I’m really proud of Disney for giving today’s girls competent role models so they can look up to someone who’s not just a pretty face, but intelligent and determined.


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