Mulan climbed a 50-foot pole by herself while holding weights, Merida hit the bullseye on a target without much concentration, Tiana developed her own five-star restaurant all by herself, and the kingdoms turned into queendoms. This is the new face of Disney.
Each time a new Disney movie is released, its main female character is tougher and stronger than the last ― and one day she might be stronger than the typical male heroes.
Older Disney movies like “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella” featured female characters as tiny, helpless girls. The princesses end up being saved by a heroic prince to obtain their happily ever after.
Women’s rights groups have pressured Disney as well as other corporations to portray stronger females, saying girls need more to aspire to than romance. Disney is listening.
“Mulan” shows her female independence when she runs off to the army in place of her father, despite the fact that her culture frowns on women acting like men. Mulan’s Asian culture also emphasizes her role as the “perfect wife” but instead she learns to fight as well as or even better than the rest of the men there.
“I feel that it is very cool that [princesses are] stronger because it gives little kids someone to look up to,” junior Thuy Bo said. Bo’s favorite princess is Mulan because of her strength by putting her family first.
“Brave” is another film in which the main female character tries to escape the conformities of her society. Like Mulan, Princess Merida ignores society’s norms by staying tough and continuing her “unladylike” actions.
“Princess and the Frog” is the story of a young African American girl who strives to follow her dream of having her own five star restaurant. Her song “Almost There” is a strong message about working hard for dreams.
The “Frozen” franchise showcases women in a more realistic form. Anna and Elsa, the main female characters, are portrayed as real-life girls who experience awkward moments and wake up disheveled in the morning.
“Mirror, Mirror,” the reboot of “Snow White,” shows Snow White not waiting for the prince to come; instead she learns how to sword fight and improve her quickness. She fights the prince and is the one to kiss him to break a spell instead of the reverse in the classic.
Sophomore Karina Fardmanesh said that she likes that princesses are becoming stronger and not just damsels in distress. “They’re showing little kids that women can be independent and can do things without men,” Fardmanesh said.
“All [recent Disney movies] have featured self-reliant female protagonists for whom romantic love is not the endgame,” film-editor for “The Guardian” Andrew Pulver said. In his article, “How Disney’s Princesses Got Tough,” he says that the Disney women no longer rely on men for their happy ending. “Moana,” a new Disney film being released on November 23, is said to feature a plot where the main character does not have a love interest in the movie at all.
Chelsea Mize, a writer for “Bustle,” believes that the time of the prince saving the damsel has disappeared. “We have the Tianas and Elsas and Mulans, who are, however subconsciously, instilling in young girls the idea that you can be empowered and fight your own battles and create your own happy ending without the help of a man,” Mize said.