What Constitutes as a Disney Princess?

So it looks like Moana is not going to be a Disney Princess. If The New York Times is to be believed, “celebration over the introduction of a Pacific Islander princess in “Moana” has apparently been premature. Because the film barely mentions her lineage, the company will not be calling Moana a princess, according to a Disney spokesman.”

This is…very frustrating, to say the least.

Now of course, this could just mean that they’re not going to add her to the lineup right away. It’s entirely possible that, if the movie does VERY well, they’ll add her in anyway. But still, it’s kind of irksome how Disney was going to add in both Anna AND Elsa (who is a QUEEN) in the lineup before the movie even came out (when the movie took over the world, they got their own separate franchise) but Moana, who despite being a daughter of a chief and the protagonist of her own movie it looks like she’s going to have to PROVE her worth of being a princess. What makes this especially infuriating is that Disney has a bad record of excluding their non-white princesses (all four of them!) more than often. So the fact that there’s no guarantee that brown girls (especially Polynesian girls) are going to get any merchandise for Moana after the movie runs its course is more than troubling. Considering Disney’s current habit of marketing Frozen to death and leaving their other movies in the dust (even if the movies were huge hits, like Big Hero 6 and Zootopia), this just makes matters so much worse.

This just proves how absolutely fickle Disney is when it comes to adding ladies to their Princess lineup. Do you have to be born a princess? No, because Cinderella, Belle, and Tiana married into royalty are considered princess. Do you just have to be a princess in general? No, because Mulan has no connections to royalty and Pocahontas is not technically a princess but they’re both in the lineup (despite barely getting featured on any merch). Do you have to sing and have a love interest? No, because Merida has neither of things but she’s included. Plus there’s also the matter that some characters (like Esmeralda) WERE included at one point but then promptly kicked out.

So what gives? How come some of Disney’s female characters are allowed to be featured in an elite lineup and get their own dolls and products but others aren’t? Honestly, I have no idea. I feel like at this point, you have to be white and wear a pretty dress. You might be included if you’re non-white for diversity token points, but once you’re inducted they won’t bother to include you.

This is why I stand by this: Disney needs to create an all-inclusive HEROINE lineup. One that showcases all the important Disney female characters and focuses on all their skills, talents, and personality (not just looking pretty) and allows all girls to be represented. The current Disney Princess lineup just isn’t cutting it.

Until then, I’m going to do my best to make sure Moana is popular enough to warrant inclusion. It’s not fair that two skinny white women get plastered everywhere with no problem but a brown, thicker woman has to fight for it.


Author: Laura Alexander

My name is Laura, I use they/them pronouns, and I'm a recent graduate of the Social Service Worker Program at Sheridan College. I'm on the autism spectrum (Asperger's) and I have a passion for film and animation, social issues, and helping others, all of which will be featured on The Flying Red Robot blog. Please read the about page before commenting or following. "Big Hero 6" is my favourite movie.