I have now seen the latest Cinderella film and have admit that I was a little bit hesitant of watching it. While I like the original, I think Cinderella is one of the more annoying of the Disney princesses. She doesn’t really have that much about her and seems to just cry and languish, while letting others deal with everything. That might have been ok in the fifties, but for more modern-day audiences, she just doesn’t have that much too her.
And don’t even get me started on her prince! He spends the night dancing with her and then apparently doesn’t remember what she looks like the next day. She was blonde – at least go with that for a start!
Thankfully the newest Cinderella manages to iron out the kinks from the animation. They give Ella more depth while still retaining the underlying fact that it is her kindness and hope that sees her through. And it’s a nice touch that she and the prince can have a conversation before the ball, making their relationship seem more believable and they initially begin to fall in love because of an intellectual attraction, as well as a physical one.
This got me thinking about the rest of the Disney princesses. While I’m a massive fan of Disney films, there a few of the princesses that are rather irritating when you think about it. Obviously, some of the problems are due to the time period they we released, when the depiction of women wasn’t quite the priority.
So here is my take on the best and worst Disney princess role models:-
Mulan – She disguises herself as a man to join the army and save her father, gets a Rocky-style montage and becomes the best soldier in the unit. Even when she gets found out (after saving everyone) she still goes on to save the whole of China.
Merida – A Disney princess who refuses to marry and is still unmarried at the end of the film. And she’s handier with a bow and arrow than Katniss Everdeen.
Elsa/Anna – A nice sign of Disney moving into the 21st century. We can have a queen without her having to have a king and both Elsa and Anna have a complete personality. There’s a nice inside joke that the idea of want to marry someone after only having just met them and the central love story is about sisterly love.
Jasmine – Nicely feisty and stands up for herself. And she’s more than happy to marry for love, even if he is a penniless orphan, instead of just choosing any old prince.
Aurora – Sleeping Beauty meets a stranger in the woods, doesn’t even know his name and then throws a strop when she won’t get the chance to see him when he turns up at her house, even though she’s just discovered she’s a princess. She’d rather entertain a stranger than finally get to meet her real parents after sixteen years. In the whole film, she only sings, dances, throws a hissy fit, sleeps and has awesome hair. That’s it really.
Cinderella – Original Disney Cinderella doesn’t seem to have that much depth to her. While it follows the idea of being good and believing in magic so everything will work out ok in the end, Cinderella seems to just put up with her station in life, cries a few times, lets other people sort things out for her (a fairy godmother or pet mice) then falls in love with a man who can’t even remember what she looks like after a night of dancing with her.
Ariel – The Little Mermaid is probably one of my favourite Disney films but Ariel is a complete drip – although she is only sixteen, so maybe she can be forgiven for that. She willing trades her voice for legs, changing everything about her, all for a bloke she’s laid eyes on once and she’s supposed to rely simply on her looks to win him over. Not the greatest message for young girls.
Obviously there’s a few more princesses who I haven’t included, mainly because I feel they’re kind of down the middle. While Rapunzel and Belle are better role models than some of the older Disney princesses, I don’t find Snow White that bad, if you take all things into consideration.
What do you think? Who would you include in the best and the worst?