As many of us know, Disney Princesses
are not always viewed in a positive light. Some people believe them to be passive, codependent damsels in distress. But is this really true? Or does each Princess offer a kind of strength in her own way? Here, I have carefully ranked the princesses in terms of being good role models for young girls. We'll start at the bottom of the list so we can work our way towards, in my opinion, Disney Princess' best role model. I have spoken to plenty of parents to make sure that I have diverse research and opinions.
The third Disney princess to ever grace the silver screen is the lead character in one of Disney's most classic fairy tales. However, she is the least interesting princess in terms of personality. I admit, she isn't given much of a chance with her very small amount of screentime. However, Aurora really offers nothing to her own film other than song and beauty...two gifts she received at the film's start. Aurora is gorgeous and elegant but she spends most of her time dreaming about a prince coming and sweeping her off her feet. There are countless more interesting characters in the film such as the Good Fairies and the anatagonist Maleficent. Aurora is pretty much just an object to be fancied, provided for and rescued. She literally does nothing but dance, sing, cry and sleep.
8. Snow White
The first ever animated heroine in a feature film, Snow White has a lot to her name. She stars in what is commonly known as the greatest animated film of all time. Now, the question is, as a character, is Snow White all she's cracked up to be? Snow White has many positive traits: she is very optimistic, kind to those around her and doesn't feel too sorry for herself...she even apologizes for causing a fuss after a terrifying run through the woods. Still, Snow White's only goal in life is to have a prince come and take her away to his castle, where she can be romanced and live happily ever after. She gets her wish after foolishly eating an apple from a strange hag who easily convinces her it's a "magic wishing apple." Sure, Snow White's not the brightest bulb out there and she may not have any ambition, but she has got personality.
Absolutely one of Disney's most beloved princesses, Ariel is a favourite among many young girls. She was the princess who sparked the Disney Renaissance with her spunky, teenage appeal. Unfortunately, the only character Ariel ever seems to concern herself with pleasing throughout the entire film is herself. Although she does like to explore and collect things, this interest quickly takes a back-seat in her reasoning for becoming human when she spots the handsome Prince Eric. After bravely saving this dashing young man from drowning, Ariel makes it her goal to join him on land and woo him. There was great risk in this...what if Ariel had made the deal with Ursula only to find Eric was an arrogant pig? She would have had two choices: marry him anyway or turn into one of Ursula's slugs. Luckily, in true Disney fashion, it works out because once she meets Eric, she likes his personality as well. Still, she bargains her whole life, abandoning her friends and family, for a guy she's only ever seen and never interacted with. While I admire her bravery and sass, I definitely think most of her popularity is due to her being a beautiful mermaid as opposed to a beautiful human girl.
Her story is one that inspired millions...rags to riches. And Cinderella is to be admired for throughout a life of hardship and abuse, she still manages to see the good in others and have hope. One of the most underestimated princesses in terms of value, Cinderella is more than just a pretty face. She works hard and appreciates what she has in life, while most of us would be damn near suicidal if we were in her shoes. Her main downside is that without the help of her fairy godmother, she would've died a slave. She didn't have the courage or strength to free herself...it was up to the mice and her animal friends to get her out of that wicked Lady Tremaine's grip. Cinderella's dream is, big surprise, to marry a prince which she evidently clarifies in the film's theme "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes."
The only Disney princess that the film doesn't revolve around, Jasmine has somehow captivated the spirits and hearts of many fans. She is the first non-European princess and the first to not be hopelessly dreaming of marrying a prince. In fact, she states that if she ever marries, she wants it to be for love and not status. She is shown to be clever and quick on her feet several times throughout the film such as seducing Jafar, playing along as Aladdin's crazy, monkey-worshipping sister and recognizing Prince Ali's mannerisms to be the same as the boy she met in the marketplace. She is sassy, fun and gorgeous...most importantly, she has self-respect and refuses to be treated like a trophy. Although the film is more centered around her lover, in the scenes she does appear in, Jasmine is a fairly admirable Disney princess.
The only princess to ever appear in a Best Picture Nominated film and present an Academy Award, Belle is a highly praised and popular Disney princess. She is remarkably unique and although she is beautiful, the filmmakers made her unaware of this. She does not wish to marry the handsome town-hero Gaston because she is able to see that he doesn't have much on the inside. She simply refuses to be someone's "little wife" which surprisingly is what all the other princesses before her dreamed of most. She dreams of adventure, a first for a Disney princess. Although she is a loner in her town, need for companionship and rescue are not at all apparent in her. When her father is in danger, she rides her horse to a spooky castle. She gives up her freedom and agrees to spend the remainder of her life in a dungeon, all to save her father's life. Although the film receives occasional criticism for romanticizing an abusive relationship, this is basically the film's only known controversy and it is a highly debatable one. Belle forgives and allows the Beast a chance to show her his heart and that is what makes Belle's story a tale as old as time - everyone should be given the chance to love and be loved.
Disney's newest addition to the princess lineup is Tiana. She marks the first ever African-American princess but has a lot more going for her than just that. She is independent, hard-working and loyal to her family and friends. She is the first ever princess to truly have a specific ambition. Tiana wants to have her own restaurant, not just for herself but for her deceased father who shared that dream. She is a vibrant and passionate character who does more than just believe and have faith in her dream - she works for it and earns it. Throughout the course of the her debut film, she learns to love Naveen. In the end, she gets her prince and the restaurant. She is a perfect example that a young girl can be in a loving, committed relationship while fulfilling her own individual dreams.
In Disney's first ever animated film based loosely on true events in American history, Pocahontas is one of the strongest Disney heroines out there. She is shown to be spiritual, athletic and independent. Not to mention beauiful but when every single Disney girl is gorgeous, it's the personality that stands out most. Pocahontas, like Belle and Jasmine, doesn't want to be married for the sake of companionship and someone to provide for her. She wants to find herself on her own terms and follow her own path. When she meets John Smith, she truly does fall in love with him because she sees more to him than the fact that his skin colour is different from her own. She is courageous and accepting, seeing both sides in what looks to be a violent war. She is eventually able to achieve peace by standing up for what she believes in, quite bravely I must say. In the end, she stays among her people instead of returning to England with John Smith. Although she cares for him very deeply, she is not willing to uproot her entire life and leave her friends and family behind.
This girl is the ultimate Disney hero, male or female! She defies gender stereotypes by secretly taking her father's place in the army. Not only is she brave and selfless, but she is insecure and a little clumsy, something real people can relate to. Mulan evolves as a character - she starts out wanting to fit in and bring her family honor through being a beautiful bride but ends up saving China and inspiring every girl who sees the film. She is kind but not a pushover and she doesn't rush into marriage with Shang. She asks him to stay for dinner, significantly hinting that there will be a romantic future between the two. Mulan is stereotyped as a "tomboy" but honestly she was just a different side of femininity. Being brave and strong shouldn't be solely a male attribute, it should be viewed as admirable from whoever shows those qualities. Mulan is the best role model for young girls because she shows them that they have the right to be whatever they want to be and can truly accomplish almost anything in life. Mulan is never once a damsel in distress whereas nearly every princess before her has been. The film realistically accepts that Mulan is a young woman and is not quite as physically strong as the men around her. But it is her determination and intelligence that allow her to embody a magnificent solider. The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all. This is completely true about Mulan. She is a strong character on any level and is easily the most heroic Disney Princess.