I went through the first 6 Disney princesses last week let’s move on to the rest.
Pocahontas (1995) – You know in all honesty it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this movie and then I saw it only once but one thing sticks out in my mind. Pocahontas throwing herself between John and her tribe when he is to be executed. She convinces her father to stop the execution and the make peace with the English. This is another strong female character, why should we not look to her as a role model?
Mulan (1998) – Yep one more princess I love. She’s different than the rest of the girls around her. She wants to bring her family honor but doesn’t want to have to sublimate herself to do so. When her already permanently wounded father is called up into military service again she takes his place, a decidedly dangerous move as this could lead to her death. When she is revealed and then sees that Shan Yu is still alive she does not head on home as she could leaving the others to be surprised. She instead rushes to the Imperial City to warn her fellow soldiers. None will listen and yet she still does not give up. It is Mulan’s plan that saves the Emperor. I read that critics felt the somewhat romantic ending of the movie diminished the power of Mulan’s character. On the other hand since it is Li Shang who acts so nervous and timid with Mulan stepping forward to speak to him I think it shows her strength of character even more. Hmm yet another strong female role model. Wow I’m shocked (yeah that would be sarcasm just in case you can’t tell.
Tiana (2009) – OK another movie I’ve never seen. I’m not even sure why I haven’t seen it because kiddo was still watching then what he calls “girl movies” now. (And we’ve had multiple conversations about there not being girl and boy movies but like I said he’s 10 and some things are still very black and white in his world. I keep trying though, it has to sink in at some point) So I wandered over to wikipedia, imdb, and rotten tomatoes to read various synopses. (Doing what I ask my students to do and checking to see if the same information is presented in more than one place before deciding it’s reliable.) Tiana works two jobs to save money to start a restaurant and fulfill her father’s dream, yep no slacker this girl is (sorry for the Yoda speak, kiddo has been on a roll with it lately and it must be stuck in my head). Not sure how I feel about her making a deal to kiss a frog for the money to buy her restaurant, yes it speaks to going to incredible lengths to achieve what you want but something about it makes me feel squicky. She does however insist to Prince Naveen that hard work is the way to get what you want, which makes me wonder why she’d kiss the frog to begin with unless it was just desperation when finding out she wasn’t going to get the building for her restaurant. Through all the trials of being a frog Tiana doesn’t give up. Again we get a princess willing to give up something precious to her, her dream, to be with the one she loves. Not something everyone agrees with but not always a bad thing.
Rapunzel (2010) – Ah Rapunzel, the first thing that comes to mind is the scene where she’s first encountering the world outside her tower. Rapunzel may not stand up to her “Mother” well but she protects herself when Flynn sneaks into the tower. She manipulates first “Mother” then Flynn to get what she wants and gets out of the tower. She seems to naturally have a case of agoraphobia but fights that fear to get what she wants and see the lanterns. She does finally confront Gothel and once again we see a woman agree to give away something precious for the one she loves. Even better Eugene cuts her hair willing to give up his own life so that she can live a life of freedom. Hello give and take, both parties in a relationship giving up something precious to them to save something more precious. Not such a bad lesson and double sided for once. I don’t see Rapunzel as such a bad role model though, she’s a fairly strong female character.
Merida (2012) – Again a movie I’ve only seen once, managed to get it from the library one time before kiddo started on his “girl/boy movie thing” (any tips to get him away from that thinking would be helpful as it’s making me crazy), but even seeing it once I was impressed with how strong she was. Like Jasmine, Merida refuses to simply be married off, she fights for her own hand in the archery battle. She realizes she has made a huge mistake by going to the witch and does everything she can to fix it. Nope not a strong female role model at all huh? *yep you can see me rolling my eyes from wherever you are right?*
OK so that takes me through all of the current Disney princesses. Please don’t think I have anything against Frozen and Elsa, what I’ve seen of the movie is cute, and little girls always love a princess but maybe we need to direct our girls to real-life strong female role models as well as those in movies. That’s a whole other post though and one I will share another time, as is the possibility of a post that we direct our boys to good role models who may or may not be professional athletes. I’ll gladly take suggestions on either front so share away please.
*Side note – I have to say I resisted seeing Frozen when it first came out because I was highly disappointed, all of the first trailers showed only Olaf and the moose. I thought it was going to be a cute buddy movie and then it was princesses, I felt a bit misled. I’m willing to see it now but I guess I’ll have to wait and see it with my niece sometime 🙂
ETA: I scheduled this to post a few days ago and since then I’ve seen more of the movie, specifically the end and I have to say Elsa is ok but umm why are we not making more of Anna who SPOILER ALERT steps in front of the sword to save her sister, isn’t she the one we should be holding up as the strong one, she’s the one that went off looking for her sister who ran away in fear of her own powers. Really why is Elsa the one that everyone is raving about? Just my opinion.