Move over, passive princesses of yore. Disney has come up with some new princesses recently, that seem to be doing a way better job at being role models to young girls. These princesses don’t spend hours waiting for their Prince Charming to come by their way. They don’t need a handsome prince on a white horse to whisk them away from their troubles. They’re beautiful, but willing to get their hands dirty. They can fight you, and fight you well.
The Princess and the Frog
The movie, The Princess and the Frog, released in 2009, was pretty historic in it’s own way. It introduced the first African American princess (well, she was to become one eventually). Tiana had a dream, but her dream wasn’t finding her Prince Charming and riding off into the wilderness. It was to open her own restaurant for which she had been saving up, since forever, penny by penny, tip by tip. She finally does get to open her restaurant with it’s popular gumbo, and it’s called Tiana’s Place, even though she’s married to Prince Naveen by then. Unlike most other Disney princesses, Tiana is not a princess by birth, she only becomes a princess after getting married to Prince Naveen. A theme that runs throughout the movie is that beauty is not everything, as Tiana and Naveen fall in love with each other while they are frogs.
Tangled, released in the year 2010, was based on the story of Rapunzel. Only this Rapunzel was rather different! She knew how to use weapons (even if they constituted her impossibly long hair and frying pans), she pretty much showed Flynn Rider, her love interest in the movie, who the boss was, and didn’t fall for his smoulder. Instead, she fell for him after getting to know him (through various rather adventurous instances). In the end, it is she who saves Flynn’s life, through her tear, which has healing properties.
Brave, released in the year 2012, is,till date, probably the only Disney princess movie with no male lead or love interest. Merida is a princess with curly red hair and a thirst for adventure. Sitting in her room, gazing up at the stars, dreaming of her Prince Charming is not for her. She is amazing with a bow, and puts all her prospective suitors to shame. In fact, when faced with their incompetence, she goes to the arena (against the wishes of her mother) and shows them what shooting a bow and arrow is really like. Merida’s story is special because she questions why princesses had to marry in the first place. Merida is more than happy chasing will-o-wisps, climbing mountains and shooting arrows, all of which, according to her mother, do not befit her title. Brave is a heartwarming movie about bravery and the relationship between a mother and daughter that cannot understand each other, but finally do. In the end, they are closer than ever, and there is no suitor in the picture.
Frozen was released in the year 2013, and focuses on the relationship between two sisters, Anna and Elsa. What’s different in this movie is that the importance of love has been emphasised, yet the emphasis has been on all kinds of love, be it the love a girl has for her sister, or the love a snowman has for his human friend, who he feels is worth melting for. After all, it is just not a true love’s kiss that can thaw a frozen heart. Anna, the main female lead, isn’t perfect. She’s awkward, yet cute. She’s feisty. It is Anna that ventures into the cold (literally) to save her sister, not a handsome prince. It is rather refreshing to see the bonding between two female characters, instead of always being faced with evil stepmothers and mean stepsisters. Naive Anna, who yearns for all the love and attention missing from her life, first gets engaged to a prince she just met that very day, who later turns out to be the villain. Kristoff, the boy who helps her find her sister, actually tells her that he doesn’t trust her judgement because she ‘fell in love’ in one day with a man she just met, thereby questioning all those years of ‘one kiss of true love which would awaken Sleeping Beauty’. After all, what if she doesn’t like the way he eats or picks his nose? Anna herself punches (and consequently pushes into the water) the villain in the movie, after holding Kristoff back from doing so. It is clear that she can fight her own battles.
It truly seems like Disney is trying to move away from the likes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Snow White, in order to give better role models for young girls to aspire to.
By Aarushi Maheshwari