By: Naomi Wuliger
Disney princesses have always been desirable characters little girls aspire to be, like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Pocahontas, and Sleeping Beauty. These are some of the most recognizable Disney princesses of today, but they all have one thing in common- they are reliant on a prince to rescue them from whatever predicament they are in. What message does that send to impressionable young girls? It tells them that they must be saved by a man, and that they are incapable of solving problems on their own. This is very problematic to be teaching young girls because it denies the idea that women(princesses) can do anything a man(prince) can do. However, some more recent Disney movies have been portraying stronger, independent, and more powerful women.
In 2012, Brave was released, a film where a princess named Merida, a skilled archer, seeks to carve out her own path. However, her defiance of an age-old tradition (marrying young and having children) angers the highland lords and leads to chaos in the kingdom. Seeking help, Merida visits an eccentric who grants her an ill-faded wish, turning her mother into a feared bear. This results in Merida having to undo this curse and restore order in the kingdom. This sends a message that women, and even young girls, can solve their own problems without a man.
In 2013, the movie Frozen was released, which follows the story of two sisters who love each other, but have some issues in their relationship due to Elsa’s magic ice powers. The other sister, Anna, does not understand why Elsa keeps her powers away from her, yet Elsa is simply worried about what harm she could do to her sister. When Anna is told she must get a true love’s kiss in order to live after Elsa accidentally strikes her with ice, her friend Kristoff takes her back to Hans, her fiancé, who nearly kills her. Elsa returns from her ice castle, and is revealed to be Anna’s “true love”, saving her. This movie represents the strength of women and sisterhood, and how a man is not needed for everything.
More recently, in 2016, Moana came out, a movie about a teenage princess who sets out to save her kingdom. During her journey, she encounters a man named Maui, who believes he is king of the world until Moana puts him in his place, and forces him to show her the way by finding the heart of Motunui and going on a dangerous trek. Eventually, Moana is able to save her kingdom and restore order in nature, pretty much all on her own. In spite of her fear, Moana is brave enough to battle the strong forces of nature and achieve success.
Disney has more recently moved in a direction that is more progressive and provides a more accurate representation of who women are, and who little girls can grow up to be. It is vitally important for little girls to have examples and role models who represent the strength and courage of women, and show their great capabilities to achieve anything they desire.