Disney+ has been out for a couple months now, so you’ve probably gone deep into the vault and your nostalgia bucket is overflowing. I bet you have an opinion on who the best Disney princess is, but when you curl up and watch these classic movies with your kids, you might see the princesses in a different light. All of a sudden, you think, “She is awesome! I hope my little girl loves this one.” or “I’m not so sure this lady is making the best life choices right now.”
Sure, the way our kids take in a movie is different than how we do, but one can still argue that some of these princesses are better examples for girls than others. Here are four to admire and one who didn’t make the most of that fairy tale life.
Cinderella knows the value of good friends (even if they are mice), a wise elder, and a good fitting shoe. She was dealt a tough hand, but she made the best of it. There were moments she should have stood up to her step-sisters and step-mother, but I appreciate that she served with quiet humility. Sometimes, that’s the way to crack the shell of a hardened heart.
Today, there is no lack of strong women in the media, but I don’t think most of our daughters watched Good Morning America’s profile on Sheryl Sandberg. In Mulan, they get to see a strong girl who fights to protect her family and gains the respect of her people. As a woman who wasn’t a very girly-girl growing up, I love that she proves the best Disney princess doesn’t even need a gown.
She loves her father, knows the value of education, and doesn’t fall for the guy every other girl likes. Yes, some argue Stockholm Syndrome as Belle’s reason for falling in love (and that is a real concern). But I like to think she learned not to judge a book by its cover and fell for what was in the Beast’s heart. This is a great lesson for our daughters—not just in love, but in friendship, too.
Brave, innovative, celebrates her culture—Moana will teach your daughter that her ability to change the world has little to do with her size, gender, or lack of ankles. About that, Moana has a solid, strong body that serves her well throughout her quest. And in a sea of starry-eyed princesses, Moana shows there are many non-love-related adventures on the horizon.
Ariel (the worst!)
Don’t throw your phone! The Little Mermaid was my first favorite Disney movie, so this hurts me, too. But hear me out. Ariel was given the gift of a beautiful voice and she signed it and her family away for a guy about whom she knew the following: he could play the flute, loved dogs, and had a good head of hair. I appreciate that she desired a different life and went for what she wanted, and I’m all for our daughters taking risks. But they should be calculated risks.
Had Ariel spent five minutes discerning her deal with Ursula, the calculation would’ve looked like this: No prior conscious interaction with the prospective suitor – ability to speak + time crunch + conniving evil sea witch + risk of becoming creepy ground-dwelling slave = no deal!
In all seriousness, these movies make for great conversation starters with our daughters. You can ask your girls what they admire about the characters, what they would’ve done differently, and which of the princesses’ noble qualities they see in themselves. And you get to keep filling that bucket with nostalgia.
Which Disney princess do you think is the most admirable? Or the least?