The slightly satirical rant begins now.
Labeling all or most of the Disney Princesses damsels in “a state of danger or desperate need” waiting for their happily ever afters courtesy of princes riding in to save them doesn’t make you sound enlightened and progressive. It makes you sound like you don’t know your Disney movies, and it irks me no end. For those of you who can’t be bothered to get the facts on your own, here they are in pithy summary.
Snow White = All right, you get one point. This kid needed a compassionate huntsman, a septet of miners, and a prince to have her back, because she was too busy singing in ridiculous falsetto with the adorable wildlife to think much about self-preservation. Moving on.
Cinderella = Technically, she earned her way out of her mess of a life by making the house’s vermin feel like they owed her favors. It pays to be kind, folks.
Aurora/Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty = She was living a happy peasant life in the forest until her fairy guardians dropped the bombshell that she was a princess betrothed to a prince she didn’t think she wanted to marry because she didn’t know the guy she danced with in the woods was, in fact, that very prince. (I feel like I could be describing a Shakespearean comedy, right now.) Despite her disappointment, she decided to be an adult about it and would have fulfilled her royal obligations had she not been hypnotized and knocked unconscious by an enchanted spindle. You’re not gonna blame a gal for being cursed to sleep through the dragon battle, are you? Shake your fist at the story, if you like, but don’t take it out on the people who had to live it.
Ariel/The Little Mermaid = She had no need to wait for a prince to save her, because she wasn’t in any danger until she jumped into it headfirst on her own. On the contrary, she saved the prince from a noble death at sea following the heroic rescue of his dog from a burning ship. You want a princess who takes her destiny by the horns to the point of stupidity? Here you go. She went out and got everything she ever dreamed of, and it only almost cost the wellbeing of the entire ocean to do it. Slow clap for character agency.
Belle/Beauty of “…and the Beast” fame = If she were as pathetic as the usual brushoffs would claim, she would have stayed in her poor provincial town and married Gaston without a fuss instead of spurning him and trading her freedom for her father’s in a creepy castle. The only instance in which she needed saving was when she tried to break her promise to the Beast by fleeing the castle and got attacked by wolves. The moral of the story? Don’t break your promises. (And stay out of the freaking forbidden West Wing, Nosy Parker!)
Jasmine = Another instance of not being in distress until someone does something knuckleheaded. In this case, it was Aladdin’s fault for vying for her hand under false pretenses and allowing a sorcerer to get his hands on the magic lamp. Really, it’s only right that he save her, after all the trouble he caused.
Pocahontas = Quote John Smith, her tribe, and a number of the Virginia Company, “Thanks for saving us.” (Not a real quote, but the sentiment was there.)
Mulan = No one complains about Mulan, because she dressed up like a man. Telling.
Tiana/the Princess of “…and the Frog” fame = Wait for a prince?? She wouldn’t even ask her gazillionaire best friend to just loan her the capital to start up her own business! Also, quote Prince Naveen and all of New Orleans, “Thanks for saving us.” (See parenthetical statement in the Pocahontas section.)
Rapunzel = You realize she blackmailed a wanted thief into acting as a tour guide on her birthday jaunt to the city, right? She wasn’t waiting for a prince, just for the gumption to defy her emotionally abusive maternal figure. There’s a difference.
Merida = No one complains about Merida, because she’s Scottish.
There you go, dear readers. The next time you encounter someone spewing such ill-informed slander, just link ‘em here. We’ll rise above the prejudices of yore, one gentle correction at a time.
P.S. – speaking of princesses, “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)” releases this Friday. /End plug/