Haters love to bash Disney’s culture of beautifully drawn women.
They scorn at the idea of well-proportioned, sparkly feminine figures, saying, “Disney likes to think of the Princesses as role models, but what a sorry bunch of wusses they are. Typically, they spend much of their time in captivity or a coma, waking up only when a prince comes along and kisses them.”
They continue the character bashfest through cartoons like this.
After reading up on the theories that Disney women are easily sexualized and terrible role models, I almost bought it.
But last time I checked, most of my very smart, successful, female friends and I weren’t brooding in a corner somewhere, hoping someone would come along and rescue us. (Well, on nights that end before 2 a.m.)
Some argue Disney is selling a negative concept of women. I say that the characters who slept in wait for the prince may fit under that umbrella, but we tend to forget about the less sparkly ladies.
Let’s not make playtime so intense.
After all, outsmarting armies, riding carpets and rocking a fin for feet can’t be too easy – but it sure must be fun. Unless you’re one stuck waiting for a prince, in which case, I’m sorry –it may be awhile.
Maybe the problem isn’t that the Princesses exist – maybe the problem is that Disney’s truly leading ladies often get overlooked in marketing. Two of my favorites aren’t highlighted in that cartoon, because it’s simply harder to argue against them.
But they’re all here.
Disney may have produced some “wusses” early on, but they certainly changed their ways with the later heroines.
Follow their leads.
What does a beautiful young woman from a traditional Chinese family to do when she just doesn’t “fit in?” Cut her hair off with a sword, decide to defend her family’s honor and ride across the tundra with her talking mini dragon, of course.
You get it, girl. She’s courageous, resourceful and can “hang with the guys,” if not outdo them all.
And in the end, she got the guy not for being hopelessly devoted, but for being hopelessly badass.
Lesson learned: If you do what you really want, you will get what you really want. Courage is often rewarded.
Plus, who wouldn’t want a clan of ancestors whispering wisdom into your ear and a mini dragon named Mushu?
Continuing with the Disney theme of speaking to animals and nature in general, this Native American warrior of the old New World broke the rules to “befriend” an attractive English settler. With an exotic name like John Smith, who could blame her?
Throughout the story, Pocahontas, or “Little Mischief,” teaches John and his crew more about her land than they’d ever know alone.
Lesson learned: Never be afraid to lead. Be yourself, and in the end you’ll find that others are a lot more like you than they might seem.
She loves learning, hates pretty boys and wants to get out of a town below her ambitions. She also fiercely protects the one she cares about. She made a deal with Beast to save her father.
By getting to know her hairy captor, she shows us how to move beyond appearances. In the end, she falls in love. Sigh.
Lesson learned: Learning is really cool and strong women can always make the choice to have it all.
Honorable mention: Ariel, whose curiosity teaches us to never be afraid to explore beyond the limits. The whole giving her voice to Ursula thing bothers me, though.
These few Princesses stand out as teaching women to be strong, intelligent, graceful and, most importantly, fierce.
Maybe its because I used to wear my mom’s “Prom Queen” crown around the house and played Barbies as a kid, but the Disney heroines will always represent fun for me. And a time when we all took it a little less seriously.