I can't believe I haven't done one of these until now. :) Enjoy!
"God will not abandon you. So don't you abandon us."
10) Miriam (The Prince of Egypt)
I believe that Dreamworks' "The Prince of Egypt" is one of the most underrated films ever created, and Miriam is no exception. Only a supporting character in a film that is almost entirely about her brother, Moses, Miriam manages to shine despite her rather minor role. She isn't traditionally pretty (paling in comparison to the lithe and exotic Tzipporah,) but she has an innate, inner goodness that shows throughout her being. Despite having spent her whole life enduring backbreaking work, hunger, and abuse, Miriam trusts the God that she loves to care for her, no matter how far away he may seem. Spirited, faithful, and a shining example of how strong beliefs can help you endure anything, Miriam is a great example of a great character in a very great film.
"I'm a big tough girl. I can tie my own sandals and everything."
9) Meg (Hercules)
Say what you want about Meg, but she's unique, particularly for Disney heroines. Sarcastic, jaded, and even bitter, Meg is a far cry from the original creation, sweet, happy, upbeat Snow White. Meg is in many ways the modern young woman; she has baggage (because she's old enough and mature enough to have it,) she's got insecurities, and at times, she's got an awful attitude, but hey, she's human. I like than even though Meg is technically a supporting character, she has her own backstory; she doesn't exist purely to give Hercules something to do. I also like that Meg is portrayed as a (mostly) positive character, despite all her obvious personality issues. What's the message here? You can still be a good person despite of, maybe even because of, your imperfections, and who doesn't get need to hear that?
"Doctor. To muse and blabber about a treasure map in front of this particular crew, demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic! And I mean that in a very caring way."
8) Captain Amelia
Belle is often given credit for being the "smart" Disney heroine, but in my opinion, that honor goes to Captain Amelia, of the (severely underrated) "Treasure Planet." Captain Amelia might just be the coolest female character ever created by Disney. Authoritative, in-control, whip-smart and clearly highly educated, Captain Amelia is a woman in high position and of high ambition, traits unheard of with Disney women until this point. The only reason she's this low on my list is because she (*sigh*) eventually caves at the end and falls in love, settles down, and has babies, totally trumping any badass-ness she had going for her. (Just once, I want Disney to create an awesome female character that doesn't end up snuggling into a traditional gender role at the end. *climbs off soapbox*) However, despite her eventual fall from grace, Captain Amelia is a great character, and one of my all-time favorites.
"No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream you wish will come true."
I know that she may seem a little passive and weak compared to the other heroines on this list, but for the record, I adore Cinderella. I love her grace, her elegance, her beauty... she's kind of the Audrey Hepburn of the Disney Princesses, with her understated sincerity and quiet regality. I like that she has a breaking point; she's spent so much of her life playing by the rules, so much of her life trusting that everything will work out if she just does what she's told, if she just works harder, if she just is more pleasant or kindhearted. When that doesn't work out, Cinderella has had enough, and it's time to take fate into her own hands (with some help of course.) I think most women fall into this category. Even the nicest girl-next-door can only take so much neglect, and it's when we set out to take control of our own lives that we start to truly shine, just as Cinderella does.
6) Jessica Rabbit
DAMN. The single hottest woman ever drawn is also a remarkably interesting character, despite being an entirely supporting character. Sexy, bold, and yet kindhearted, Jessica is the polar opposite of how animated women had been betrayed before 1988: (keep in mind that the last major animated heroine was Aurora.) I love her sensuality, her sense of humor, and her seeming obliviousness to the fact that she could clearly do better than Roger Rabbit. To her, they're soul mates. If that's not proof that love is blind, I don't know what is.
"If I do marry, I want it to be for love."
My love of Jasmine is astoundingly new. I used to be Anti-Jasmine, calling her spoiled, crabby, and hard to relate to. With the exception of the latter, I still believe those things, but my view on those attributes has changed. Jasmine is pretty significant in the Princess canon for being high-spirited, flirty, and the first princess who feels genuinely intelligent as opposed to well-read or merely curious. I even like her defiant streak; it makes her more memorable than if she'd cowered and caved under pressure like other princesses. Whatever the reason, I've been permenently won over to Team Jasmine, and I'm never going back.
"I need to know that he loves me for just being me."
I truly love Odette, and I don't think she gets enough credit. On a purely superficial note, I think that luscious Farrah Fawcett hair of hers is to die for, but more than that, I like how spirited she is, without ever losing her princessy personality. She's what I imagine Cinderella would be like if Cinderella were more of a modern woman. Even though she is beautiful, Odette isn't concerned with being a trophy wife. She wants to marry Derick, but only if she feels he truly loves her for who she is, not her beauty. Even when faced with living life as a swan, or worse, Odette doesn't fade away. Rather, she seems to thrive on the adversity, even challenging and bickering to Rothbart's face. In my opinion, Odette is the perfect princess: lovely, enchanting, and with a spine of steel.
"I want so much more than this provincial life."
I'm not going to spend much time here because everyone knows why Belle is so likable. Intelligent, well-read, highly-relatable, and a huge step forward for Disney heroines at the time, Disney's bookworm has a huge fanbase of hardcore fans, and I'll be the first to admit I'm one of them.
"God help the outcasts, the poor and downtrod. I thought we all were the children of God.."
I'll touch more on how important Esme is during my next installment of the "Disney Feminism" articles, but for now, here's a sneak peek: I think Esmeralda is remarkable because she's confidant, sexy, and a mature woman rather than a fledgling teenage girl. She earns her own money, doesn't seem to depend on anyone, and can fight her own battles, but what's more, she stands up for something just because it's right. Unlike other heroines, she isn't motivated by a boy or family issues. She does the right thing because it's right, independent of outside factors. She has a conscience, and I love how she's portrayed as highly positive despite her brazen sexuality and confidence. (These traits are usually frowned upon, particularly in tradtional Disney films.) Keep an eye out for my article on "The Tough Girls" for more on Esme.
"I don't know when, I don't know how, but I know something starting right now: someday I'll be part of your world!"
And of course, you just can't beat the classic. Just like Belle, I won't spend any time on Ariel because you've heard it all before. I just love her, despite all the reasons I probably shouldn't. :)