Tuesday, September 01, 2015 13:01

September retelling link-up | In defense of Disney Princesses.

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I often hear people complain about Disney princesses and how they give ‘the wrong image and idea to younger children.’ I talked a little about it in my discussion posts whether fairytales and Disney are done. Today I want to go ahead and defend my beloved Disney princesses.


Belle suffers from Stockholm syndrome, where you fall in love with your kidnapper. I say bull shit. Let’s go back to the basic of this story: her father is lost and enters someone else’s castle. The Beast thinks he is only there to gloat at him, so he locks him away. In the original tale it’s because Maurice steals one of his precious roses. If someone comes into your house, would you accept that? I know that Maurice had no wrong intentions, but I can see where the Beast comes from. He doesn’t kidnap anyone and Belle only comes into his life because she trades her life for her father. He never truly mistreats her and over time they grow a friendship that blossoms into something more. I don’t think it’s unnatural of Belle to fall in love with him. I was applauding when I read this article about Why beauty and the beast isn’t about the Stockholm syndrome. This story is all about finding beauty inside. Yes, the beast was an unkind person in the beginning, but he developed into a likable person.

Cinderella is often portrayed as spineless and stupid, but I honestly understand where she comes from. I think we all want to feel accepted and loved by the people around us. I know I always look for that feeling of belonging, like I said in my I am socially awkward post and my bullying story. Imagine you have lost two of the most important people in your life and suddenly you have three new people left. You look for their appreciation and that makes you vulnerable. So yes, Cinderella is abused and horribly treated and she doesn’t do anything against it, but spineless? I see it as a way of her to TRY to be loved by them. She wants them to notice her and that does mean she accepts their treatment, but is it really that strange? She always try to maintain her kindness. I think that it’s a beautiful trait, even when it’s a little naive. To always try to see the good side of someone can be a strength too. In the end she does stand up for herself and realize how strong she was. She managed to survive and she was still able to see the beauty in others.


Ariel is portrayed as that stupid girl who fell in love with a guy after one glance and she traded everything to be together with him. The first thing we must remember is that she longed for a life on land even before she met her Prince Charming. I think meeting him, finally seeing a human up close, was just the last push she needed. I think she was struck by the fact he was the first one she met and that gave a special connection to her. I think it was brave of her to go through the transformation and to go after something she wanted. I would be terrified to leave everything I know behind. Even if that decision meant that her story ended unhappy in the real tale, I think Disney gave her a strength by showing that fighting for what you want pays off in the end. This story is NOT about a girl changing herself for the love of her life. She changed herself to become part of a world she ached for and Eric happened to be there too (not to mention the fact Eric never said he wouldn’t have loved her if she was a mermaid. This also shows in the sequel with their daughter Melody).

I think these Disney princesses shaped me and I am welcome I had them in my life while growing up. I still love them, because they all have their good features and flaws. I loved this article that explains, with some examples, why Disney princess are NO bad role model and also this second article does a good job at portraying why Disney princesses rock. I also applaud this article for showing why Disney princesses are great role models.

How do you feel about Disney princesses? Do you think they are good or bad role models and why?

author image

Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

26 comments:

  1. I completely agree with you. I love Beauty and the Beast - it's my favourite film of all time - and it does annoy me when people dismiss the story as stockholm syndrome, because their love story is beautiful. The Beast isn't perfect, in fact he's not even a particularly nice guy at the beginning of the story, but he changes, and that's what matters. For me Beauty and the Beast is about second chances, and everyone deserves them. The Beast changes and he never mocks Belle for her passion. Gaston literally throws one of Belle's books into the mud, but when the Beast discovers she likes reading he gives her her own library! He sits and listens to her when she reads to him and it's lovely. Perhaps most importantly, it's not stockholm syndrome because when he lets Belle goes, she leaves.

    I'd be lying if I said Cinderella was my favourite princess, but I don't hate her. Just because someone is sweet and kind it doesn't mean their feeling and opinions are less valid. It takes a lot of strength to wake up every day and be kind to people, especially to the people who are making your life hell. I once read a really cool article about how Cinderella has a lot more gumption than people first think, because she doesn't really wait for the prince to find her - she goes to the ball and she finds him herself. Plus without Snow White and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, there would be no Belle or Ariel or Jasmine!

    As for Ariel, there's a chapter in a book I read earlier this year I think you should check out. It's a fantastic memoir by the playwright Samantha Ellis called How To Be a Heroine, and she talks about her life and how the heroines she's read since childhood have shaped her. She talks about how in the original tale it's a gross story, but the Disney version is a lot more feminist. Ariel is already interested in the world above and, more importantly, Eric falls in love with her voice. When he meets her later he doesn't care that she's gorgeous, he wants to find that voice and that's such an important message. :)

    Great post, Mel!

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    1. First of all, thanks for the long comment, I love those!

      Beauty and the beast is the best tale if you ask me and definitely my favorite Disney movie. I hate it when people downgrade the story and hate on the romance. Yes, second chances and being able to see someone for who they truly are. I love it how the beast changes even more around her and becomes a better person. And yes! He lets her go to see her father. It's not like he locks her in her room.

      Thanks for letting me know about How to be a heroine, I will definitely check it out! That's a beautiful way to look at it :)

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  2. SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS!! Thank you thank you, I completely concur with everything you say here.

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  3. I love this! I actually wrote a post last week about how the Disney princesses have always been there for me as I've grown up.

    People are so quick to judge you if you say you like them at 22 years old because they're "sexist" or "childish" but I disagree. I've always loved Beauty and the Beast because they fall in love over a gradual period of time, it isn't love at first sight. Beast actively tries to be a better person for her and open his heart to her, and that's when they fall in love. He loves how smart she is and caring of her father and the animals. Not to mention the fact that she literally falls in love with a beast, so clearly it's not all about the hot prince.

    Same thing goes for The Little Mermaid, like you said. Ariel hears him playing music and dancing and wishes she could dance with him. She finds the statue and "falls in love" but it's more like a first crush type of thing. Eric hears her voice and knows she rescued him and thinks she's an amazing woman BEFORE he sees her face (however little he actually did see). That's the whole point why Ursula can come in and pretend to be her without looking like her - because he didn't see her face!! He just treats her like a poor mute girl and eventually sees Ariel is the amazing singing woman that saved him and realizes he likes her too!

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    1. I will check out your post, I love to read about everyone's opinions about Disney and how it has shaped them. I hate it when people judge someone for loving something - and when they start to hate on it. Beauty and the beast is a beautiful story.

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  4. This was a great read, and I love your view on all of them. I don't think I have ever really thought about in such great details, I mean of course we've all heard the negative reviews of the princesses, but the fact of the matter is that little girls (and grown ups) around the world love them and for that reason something must be right about them. I think you have only highlighted a few of them in your post here, and I would really like to hear more. :)

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    1. Thanks Michelle, I might need to make another post and highlight 3 other overlooked princesses.

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  5. AGREED! Disney Princesses get too much hate, but that's because you're looking at it from one angle. These stories represent so much more than just "girl trying to get the guy." They represent sacrifice, family, courage, and determination.

    http://a-whole-new-world-of-disney.tumblr.com/post/107623663073/mydollyaviana-hatenotion-typical-stereotypes

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  6. Mel, what a beautiful article! I think you provided a plausible defense for each of these princesses and in no way are they bad role models. You're so right that Belle traded places with her dad, which is why she's dealing with Beast to begin with. And I loved how you justified Ariel's position as well! Lovely article hun!

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    1. Thanks Jeann! I put a lot of effort and furstration in it, haha.

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  7. Absolutely adore this, Mel! I feel like Disney Princess' get a lot of shit they don't deserve. I will say that not everything about them is perfect but some of the accusations just make me mad.

    I used to be one of the people who was 'meh' about Cinderella but a while ago, Melissa Grey tweeted a bunch of things that made me look at her story with a completely different perspective.

    Also, I always get really mad when people try to say that Beauty and the Beast is basically about stockholm's syndrome. SHE CAME VOLUNTARILY. Gosh.

    Thanks for sharing this post <3

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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    1. I like the fact that they are not perfect and that the story have flaws, because that makes it even more realistic.

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  8. This post is GORGEOUS Mel :D So much love for this. You are amazing. <3 I adore all of these Disney princesses. And I very much agree with it all. Sigh. So awesome. I have zero hate for any of the Disney girls :)

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  9. Agree with most of this. I seriously hate when people say Beauty and the Beast is about Stockholm syndrome. It's such a beautiful story, there really is no need for people to twist it.

    One of my problems with Cinderella is in many versions even in the Disney's version (though lately versions have been changing that a bit), is that we see no interaction between Cinderella and her Prince. They fall in love at first sight and there's nothing else to confirm their love. Ariel falls in love with Eric, but then they have a few days together she gets to know him and still love him (for lack of better words). That's partly why Aladdin and Jasmine is probably my favorite Disney couple, as when we see them interact the first time Aladdin sees that she isn't only pretty, but kind and smart (when she plays along with him when he comes to her rescue). Even though he had fallen in love with her at first sight there are plenty things to confirm there was much more to her character than looks.

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    1. Exactly, stay away from a story that has a complete different meaning.

      I have to agree about you on that point about Cinderella. It's definitely a story where there is hardly any time for them to fall in love. Aladdin/Jasmine are great together :)

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  10. YES! Someone who gets Ariel! I thought that the overall message was that if you change yourself for a boy, then he's going to miss some of the awesome things about your personality. When did she win his heart? When she returned back to a mermaid and showed him who he was. He liked human-voiceless Ariel, but he couldn't make that finally commitment because. to me, he knew she was holding back (not her fault, but, you know, imagery). That was the message I got from the movie when I was a young girl.

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    1. That is also a great way to look at it! For me, it was also a sign that if you really want something, you need to get it. It's no use to just mope around and wish for it to happen.

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  11. I really like this post. I agree, some of the Disney princesses have been reviled and I can't say that I honestly love all of them but they're very important pieces of modern culture if you ask me. My Disney favourites are Mulan and Tiana from Princess and the Frog, I think! I really liked Pocahontas when I was a kid but I haven't watched that movie in so long that I can barely remember the story... I'll have to change that soon! :)

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    1. You should! Watching Disney movies is always a fun thing to do.

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  12. I adore Disney princesses as you know and no one else can convince me otherwise!! I loved the points you made. Once my wrap up post is live, I will link back to it. Need to read some more fairy tale books this month!

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    1. Thanks in advance! And yes, that's one of the things we have in common, Disney rocks.

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  13. I'm so with you, Mel! Belle was in control of her choice to stay there and it was her trying to see beneath Beast's tough exterior. And Cinderella... I've never seen her as spineless or weak. More like freaking tough and strong to deal with her situation and still be kind and a hard worker and still want to love her step-family. Who of us would react in such a good way to extreme hardship, losing everything and being forced into circumstances like that by people who should be protecting us? And what could she have done about it? During those times if she would have left with no family and no friends she would have been out on the streets or become a slave or prostitute, much worse than where she was. I don't like it when people try to attach negative connotations to my beloved fairy tales. Plus these are all old fables/fairy tales that were supposed to teach lessons and had nothing to do with feminism or today's prejudices. I think sometimes people forget that and to look for the lessons they are supposed to be teaching.

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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    1. The beast never chained her or physically hold her back to leave the castle. Cinderella had a lot of mental strength to endure it and still manage to stay true to herself.

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  14. I actually took an honors seminar in college that focused on critically analyzing Disney films (Our main focuses were Snow White, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Princess and the Frog but we looked at a lot of others too!) The conclusion we came to with most of the films is yes, they have problematic themes at times (especially if they're reflective of older, more outdated cultural values and ways of thinking) but that doesn't mean they don't also reflect positive values and can teach their audience positive things. I think that's one of the biggest takeaways I got from the class- that you can critically analyze something and still love it and find value in it! :) thanks for the intriguing post and the links to the articles, I'm excited to check them out!

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

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