Opinion: Disney Princesses Are Good Role Models


Photo by Church of the King on Unsplash

Kristen Bell, who voiced Princess Anna in Frozen, stated in an interview recently that she does not think that Snow White is a good role model because of “stranger danger” and consent issues.

I don’t want to talk about that specifically because I agree with the stranger danger part and I would get too angry talking about the consent issue, but Bell’s statement reminded me that there is a school of thought that thinks that Disney princesses are poor role models because they “need men” and teach young girls that they need to be beautiful.

That is utterly ridiculous.

I grew up watching at least one Disney Princess movie a week – usually more than that – and I never once thought that I needed to obsess about my appearance. They hardly even mention beauty in Disney movies, the princesses just happen to be beautiful.

If you watch some Disney movies, you will notice an underlying (or sometimes overt) theme that beauty/physical appearance isn’t everything, or even important.

In Snow White, for example, the Evil Queen’s downfall is brought on by her vanity and pursuit of physical perfection, while Snow White triumphs because she focuses on living a productive life, even if it is in pursuit of love.

I know every Disney Princess movie back to front, and I can’t even think of an example of one of them worried about not being pretty.

Then there’s the other contention with princesses: their relationship with men.

With the exception of Snow White, every princess is independent enough to think and act freely and save herself multiple times without the help of men.

Take Belle, for example. She successfully kicks Gaston out of her house (quite humorously landing him in mud), finds and rescues her father, tames the Beast, and saves his life. The Beast, in contrast, saves her once, in the climactic wolf scene, a situation in which no human being could have reasonably saved their own life.

This is an important thing to notice: most of the time, the prince saves the princess because she could not reasonably save herself.

Prince Eric saves Ariel because of his skill as a sailor, not because of Ariel’s inability to save herself. In mermaid form, Ariel was independent and a quick-thinker, as evidenced by her successful evasion of a homicidal shark at the beginning of the movie.

Oh, and by the way, the situations where princesses are saved by guys are situations that would never happen in real life. In almost every other situation, the princesses are equal, if not superior, to the men in their lives, and that’s what really matters.

Pocahontas prefers being adventurous to settling down with Kocoum, and she falls for John Smith because he shows her adventure, not because she’s desperate for a strong man to save her. Besides, she ends up saving him after he’s shot.

Yes, a man sometimes saves the princess, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are powerful women in their own right and it’s plenty obvious.

I wanted to be a princess growing up because princesses are strong, clever, smart, and independent. They don’t take orders from anyone, and they do not need their princes, but it’s pretty great to have them.