I have a lot of love for the Disney Princesses individually (though I feel like Merida doesn’t really belong in the lineup, since she’s Pixar [not from the Disney Animated Canon like the others are] and pretty much the antithesis of a Disney Princess), but I never really liked how they were marketed. When I was a child, I remember clearly that, for most of their merchandise, all they’d really do is pose and look pretty and wear glittery dresses and smile. They weren’t shown to really do much, besides get dressed (I remember distinctly going to the Disney Princess site and all you could do with the Princesses was dress them up), do a few innocuous and feminine activities, and be kind.
Now it’s slowly starting to change. If you go to their updated site, they emphasis the Disney Princesses not as delicate maidens modelling clothes, but as determined dreamers who can do anything. Real role models for young girls, if you know what I mean. And honestly? It’s really refreshing. It’s a vast improvement over having them just be pretty and act out of character. I also like in some of the tie in books and shows they’re giving more personality to some of the older princesses, but there still needs to be more for the non-white princesses, particularly Mulan and Pocahontas. I’m kind of surprised Disney hasn’t made a TV show exclusively about the Disney Princesses interacting and going on adventures, can you imagine how much little girls would love that? Can you imagine how much older fans would love to see that? After all, Disney DID do a show called House of Mouse that had all the Disney Characters coexist in the same world, so I don’t see why they can’t do something similar just for the Princesses.
But I still feel like there can be more.
I feel like, in addition to showing girls they can do anything, they can also apply their skills and dreams and experiences to improving the world around them.
Give me a Snow White who makes sure every child has a loving home. Give me a Cinderella who opens up women’s shelters and provides resources for domestic abuse survivors. Give me an Aurora who holds charity events where absolutely EVERYONE is invited. Give me an Ariel who encourages ocean conservation and peaceful relations between nations. Give me a Belle who opens up schools and makes sure everyone is able to read and write. Give me a Jasmine who works to reduce or even eliminate poverty. Give me more of a Pocahontas who is an anti-war, anti-racism, and a pro-environmental activist like she is in the movie. Give me a Mulan who stands up for LGBT and women’s rights. Give me a Tiana who makes sure no one goes hungry and stands for black rights. Give me a Rapunzel who encourages the arts and provides resources for emotional abuse survivors. And give me more of a Merida as a diplomat.
I understand that all those are probably longshots that aren’t going to happen anytime soon, but I still feel it could add a lot of depth and substance to them. The Disney Princesses get a lot of criticism, some of them just, others not, but I feel like if you actually had them get together to do good things, you could give them a lot more credibility and respect. That’s just how I feel at least. But I am glad that they’re gradually moving away from them just being pretty. I just wish they’d let Mulan wear her blue dress and for Tiana to let down her hair every once in awhile.