Reblogged, because it had been my single-most popular post until I was Freshly Pressed. From about 3 years ago, and I don’t plan to update it in any way, other than this introduction. This might also be a hint about where I can currently be found. Yes, having a sex-change operation.
When my older daughter was 3, she spent a lot of time in costumes because – well – because she was 3. Although her mother would complain that the child should not go out to the supermarket dressed like The Little Mermaid, I argued, “Why not? Why must Halloween costumes be restricted to one day?” Boys from my time had a “what I want to be when I grow up” list that included astronaut, police officer, and baseball or football player. Today’s boys probably have basketball player and rapper. Girls will likely always think “princess” until someone brings them into reality.
When I think about princesses, I can’t help but attach “Disney” in front of it. This may seem strange, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those Disney princesses, but raising two girls and going to Disney pretty much every summer will make that not such a strange idea. All that thinking led to an evaluation of this princess roster from a man’s point of view. I supposed using the word “roster” kind of gives it a manly touch already.
As is also a manly thing, I now have to figure the best way to make a princess line-up. To be a Disney princess you need three things: 1. appear in a Disney movie, 2. female, 3. daughter of a king/tribe/leader and/or married to a prince. That’s about it. Some princess lists, like Wikipedia, incorrectly include Mulan, who is rather terrific, but is only covered by 1 and 2. There has been a recent addition of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, but I don’t know enough about her so, through no fault of her own, she will not be included in this list. Thus we are left with, alphabetically, the following:
Now I need a way to order them. An easy way would be prettiest to ugliest, but that’s not fair because they’re all pretty and that’s kind of a shallow (but manly) way to list them. Instead, I will simply list them how I like them, also rather manly, from least to most. Of course I will explain why, otherwise this didn’t need to be more than pretty much one sentence long.
The worst of the princesses, yet considered by many to be the best, Cinderella has two very big strikes against her. Within minutes of meeting the prince at the ball, she’s already in love. There is nothing wrong with the idea of wanting to be a princess and wanting to meet any decent guy, even if not a prince. However, she is all over him a little too quickly. You could argue that she likely has never been on a date, and that would make her susceptible to wanting to jump on anything with the right chromosomes. More importantly, or more “wrong,” is that she allows herself to be mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. She’s a slave in her own home. After her mother dies, her father marries a pretty cruel woman. Then he dies, and the stepmother takes over. Cinderella could have done a better job of standing up for herself. Instead, she willingly went along with the servant program. She deserves no respect.
6. Snow White
It was not easy to put Snow White above Cinderella, but there is a key difference among the negative similarities. They are both stupid. They both fall for the first man who shows them any attention, which may have been typical for their time period because it wasn’t every day that a good man rode up on a horse. Although Snow White was dumber, I have to give her a break because she was raised within the walls of a castle and never had any sense of the outside world. If the Wicked Queen told her the sky was green, then it was. So even though the Dwarves told her not to talk to strangers, it is hard to blame her when an old woman tells her to bite the magic apple and her dreams will come true. She was pretty dumb, but not the dumbest, so not the last.
Like it or not, The Little Mermaid should really be called The Little Brat. Regardless of how inflexible and unreasonable her father, King Triton, might have been, she was going a little too far by declaring that she’s sixteen and will do what she wants. She, like the previous two princesses, just got a bit too gaga when she saw a cute boy. She’s cute and smart, and I love that hair, but her attitude needs a big adjustment. In the end her father makes her human so she can literally run off with Prince Eric, and that was probably the best thing her father could have done for both himself and the rest of the ocean.
In Sleeping Beauty, the resident princess is barely in the story. She doesn’t really do anything. She spends most of the movie hiding out in the forest home of Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather, the three fairies who are protecting her from the evil Maleficent. The only thing of any importance to say about Princess Aurora is that she is easily the prettiest of them all. other than that, she is irrelevant.
Props go to the little big girl. Although she is only sixteen, like Ariel, she put the fishtail to shame. She also has a bit of a defiant streak in her Arabian blood, but she is purely justified when she stands up against Daddy Sultan. While the law of her land says she marry at 16, she tells them all where they can go. When Aladdin shows up slinging gold pieces from atop an elephant and an entire circus in tow, she wants nothing to do with him. This stark contrast is why she makes both Cinderella and Snow white look like classic tarts. The only reason she starts to fall for the faux prince Aladdin is because he lies to her and pretends to be just a regular guy, while pretending to be a prince, while really being a homeless kid, which is not exactly what she wants, which is still better than an arrogant prince, or a guy who pretends to be one. Got it? Good. She wants a guy of substance because she is a girl of the same.
She kicks ass. She can run, swim, dive, fight, sing. Well, they all sing, but somebody else usually supplies the voice. Anyway, what makes her stand up above the others is that she gets involved when she would have been justified in doing nothing. When the white settlers arrive, they bring trouble for her tribe. She could have just stayed quiet and let the men handle it, but instead she took action. I’m not saying she did the right thing or that her actions turned out well. Actually, she caused the death of a tribesman, but she still deserves credit for doing something. And she’s got a fabulous body.
We have a winner! Belle is everything. She, like the others, is a beauty, as her name suggests. More – I think – importantly, she’s got a heck of a brain. Beauty and the Beast proves that she has no interest in surface appearances. When her father disappears, she gets on a horse and rides out to find him. When she realizes he is locked in a ghastly castle, she goes in after him. When a monster tries to kick her out, she willingly trades her life for her father’s release. She outsmarts and rejects the town heartthrob, which completely devastates the three bimbos so ready to throw themselves at his big feet. You know what they say about big feet. Big smell. There is nothing about Belle that you can criticize. Although, I’m not really sure how she understood the horse. All in all, she’s the closest there is to a “real” woman. Some heels wouldn’t hurt though.
48 thoughts on “The Princesses”
Too bad you didn’t include Mulan here.. She would have been the winner 🙂
Yup. But she’s not a princess.
Ow.. really? I thought she’s on the princess’ category..
I love your post though.. 🙂
her father was not a king.
I don’t know – I have a soft spot for Ariel. She might be a bit bratty sometimes, but I do think that’s fairly realistic for a 16-year-old girl. It’s also pretty normal to fall for a cute boy, and do crazy things to get him. Ariel is also much more kid-friendly than Hans Christian Anderson’s mermaid. In Anderson’s tale, the prince falls for another girl, and the sea witch gives the mermaid the ultimatum: kill your crush (for realz, with a knife) to become a mermaid again and live with your family, or die because you failed to become the prince’s wife. She ends up killing herself.
The Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is much, much worse than a princess who merely hides and does nothing. The Disney movie, however, does have that great Tchaikovsky soundtrack, even if they did use the music out of order compared to the ballet.
I definitely wouldn’t have ranked Pocahontas so high. She is a perversion of history. Since Pocahontas was a real person, it is not cool that Disney maimed her story so much. They changed her age so that they could add a romantic story line that didn’t actually exist. Why can’t you have a cool female protagonist who isn’t romantically interested in anyone during the period when the movie occurs, Disney? Oh, because you need to perpetuate the stereotype that women need love and romance to be complete people. Awesome. (Not.) & yes, I also have a problem with Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.”
But your number one choice, Belle? She’s one of the worst. Specifically because Disney points to her and says, “See guys, she’s feminist! We are a progressive company that is not filling your daughter’s heads with horrible ideas!”
Except, Belle’s not really as awesome as Disney wants you to think. For one thing, she’s still got the big-eyed, ridiculously skinny waist that marks the anatomically incorrect Disney princess. And if you think those representations don’t affect girls, you’re wrong. I remember being a second grader and looking at myself in the mirror being disappointed and hoping that the slightly protruding (and completely normal) stomach would disappear when I got older. I specifically compared myself to Disney princesses. So the fact that there’s no normal female looking Disney princess is pretty disappointing.
Belle reads, which is cool. And she doesn’t fawn over Gaston just because everyone thinks he’s a filet mignon when he’s really more like a sculpture composed out of dog food.
But Belle is also in a situation that entails domestic abuse (remember how the Beast imprisons and intends to starve her when she first arrives at the castle? Not cool, dude.), and her romance is dependent upon her romantic interest changing in order to be a cool dude. I know that he’s a Beast – and that entails violent behavior, inappropriate verbal abuse, etc.
I guess I feel that it’s more important to note the problems with the Disney princesses than to rank them, so that we can point out to our kids, who are, inevitably, going to watch these movies, what is wrong with the story line. So that those kids don’t grow up thinking that these problems are okay. Of course, noting/pointing out extends beyond the Disney movies – Mr. Darcy’s story line also depends upon his changing to become a better man. It’s romantic, but it’s not something we want our daughters to grow up expecting.
This is way more thought than i intended. significant and accurate, but more intense than i was going for.
Regardless, I’m very happy you spilled it all out. Thanks!
I go a little overboard, sometimes… 😉
I prefer you go overboard than not stop by at all. Thanks. No problem.
I absolutely love how much thought was put into this.
And you have convinced me, Belle it is!
thanks very much. happy that you read it.
How could I not??? 😉
I’m so glad Belle was your number one, she was my favorite as well. I always felt she was one of the strongest Disney girls and still aspire to be her. Great post! 🙂
thanks very much. i’m glad you enjoyed it.
I always loved Belle.
me too. thanks for reading.
I think it’s pretty fucking amazing that a guy can look at a cartoon and rate its hotness. Kudos on the capacity to think out of the box! And Ariel does have to-die for hair. Totally. But then again, my own hair does look a lot nicer after spending the day at the beach: salt water + sea air + breeze + sun = HELLO GORGEOUS HEAD OF HAIR! Disney figured it all out…
When I saw Aurora I thought “Aurora who?” You obviously did raise girls to know more about the princesses than I ever could. I guess they never really did influence me (says the 47 yr old who still wears jeans and a t-shirt like it was her own personal uniform every day). And the single fact you know so much about the Disney stories says one thing loud and clear: you did your job as a dad to really get involved in your kids’ story times.
p.s. Prince Eric was hot. Ask my niece, she’ll tell you. She’ll also tell you that some girls watched all these movies growing up and obsessed about the princes. Not that she insisted she was going to marry one, but she was one. She was a she. A total she. But she chose to be a prince. She wore capes and walked regally about the house.
That settles it. We are both amazing. Although we will never have children, they would probably have super powers like flying and x-ray vision.
oh and they would be such handsome children, and smart, and talented, and would always know the right thing to say and when! Ha!
Without a doubt.
Belle was always my favorite! Good job
thanks very much.
There is one thing about these princesses that catches my attention: ALL of them are motherless. Don’t you find that curious?
There are only two Disney films in which the main character has both parents through the whole film. So it’s sad but consistent.
one is “sleeping beauty.” can’t remember the other, but i know there’s one more.
I’m brainstorming, but I don’t remember either.
sleeping beauty (aurora) is not motherless. however, the rest are. if merida from “brave” is considered a princess, then she still has her mother.
All, but one. Close enough! 🙂 Merida? Not a clue who she is.
Oh, yes! Now, I recognize her. Never seen the movie, though. Thank you!
This post is the obvious side effect of being a Father of girls. So for my response I will limit myself to the parameters you have set for qualifications of a Princess and bind myself to your list.
First off I will say the entire premise of Fairytales and Princesses teach little girls that there is love at first site. So instantly becoming smitten should not be a disqualification parameter. It is unfortunately a given and erroneous decision many women (I mean Princesses) make.
How I would order them last to first.
7. Aurora- You admit to her irrelevance and frankly it takes the kiss of the prince to awaken her. She is completely helpless to love. It pains me to place her last as she was one of my favorites growing up but she doesn’t even chose her prince it is ultimately arranged from birth. I do see from the man factor her beauty would shift her upwards.
6. Ariel- Again I agree a brat. So I moved her down. This is a shame since she is also one of my favs. I want to live in her watery world. And I have a weakness for red heads.
5. Snow White- First off her voice is annoying. You’re a man you have to admit that. Next she is as much of a slave as Cinderella only to seven short men instead of 3 women. She also is awakened by her prince from sleep, so like sleeping beauty it is an unconscious decision making process.
4. Cinderella- I move her up the list because she is truly resilient. I think you underestimate the cruelty of women. But I have her neck and neck with Snow White. To me these two are a tie but since she actually is conscious when she falls in love I moved her up. Either way.
3. Belle- Now Belle simply can’t be number 1. I think you were biased by your fatherly role, as this character sacrifices all for the love of her father. No doubt irresistible to a Dad. But if you look at it from the attraction to the bad boy point of view you might lower her a peg or two. Because when one of your girls takes off on the back of the first leather clad motorcycle you’ll wonder what the hell as it growls away. And the “he pulls your hair because he likes you” excuse even if true should be eradicated from a little girls upbringing.
2. Jasmine- For all the reason you say. She is independent and defiant. Her best friend is a Tiger. She wants a prince she actually likes and isn’t going to marry who her father, society and family dictate.
1. Pocahontas – She is definitely number 1 for me. She is noble, free-spirited and spiritual as well as the fact that she is the first and only Disney princess with two love interests. Girls should learn to date, to be selective and that there is no only one prince charming for them out there.
Here’s something for you to read. The aftermath of the princess syndrome. http://dctdesigns.com/2013/06/20/happily-ever-after-my-a-a-poem/
the way you presented this, i now have to rethink my rankings. (tried to reply to this yesterday but it didn’t seem to go through.)
All I needed to do was appeal to the Dad in you, it’s force is strong. 😉
Have you seen Brave? Merida is my favorite. She wins her own hand in marriage, refuses to conform. I just wish they didn’t redesign her to market the doll (made her “prettier”). Regardless, this made me laugh! My daughter loves the princesses but I prefer Tinkerbell and her posse.
i think merida is fabulous as a character, but i was disappointed with the film itself. as for tinkerbell, her attitude rocks.
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I love that Jasmine had a pet tiger. Not a princess, but Mulan was always my favorite.
i love mulan too, especially her hair, but she wasn’t a princess. sad to say.
The other thing with Belle is that if you look at how she’s drawn, she actually has a realistic figure. Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White all have tiny, tiny waists that can only be achieved by ridiculous corsetry from birth and then for the rest of your life afterwards to prevent you from breaking in two at the waist.
I’ve not actually seen Mulan or Pochahontas. May have to try to rectify that at some point.
i would see mulan first. while it is not a great movie, it is better than pocahontas. as for how the women were drawn, i would imagine ariel is the furthest from reality.
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