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- 1+ 724- 324Anyone who says that Ariel is her favorite Princess is usually either a bitch or a redhead. Or both. Anyone who thinks that Ariel is a good example of what a woman should be probably hasn’t seen the movie or doesn’t really understand what "independent" means. Ariel certainly is strong willed, but she is hardly independent. She wants to leave the sea, which is ruled by her caring, land-loathing father, to go on land to marry some guy she doesn’t know a thing about, who rules some little principality in whatever European country that the movie takes place in. Her station isn’t going to change.
It’s not like she wants legs to become a dealer of rare and collectible forks. No, she wants legs to try and bang some dude she doesn’t even know— who makes it a hobby of feeding on some of her best friends—in hopes that life on land will somehow be better than being the most beloved princess in the ocean. Hell, the whole message of "Part of That World" is about how her life is perfect under the sea, but that just isn’t enough for her. Further, to get those legs, Ariel has to sell her voice (the original Hans Christian Andersen story tells us mermaids don’t have souls) and the sea witch, Ursula, even tells her how useless a voice is for a woman in "winning" a man, anyway. Her body is supposed to be her key to his heart, not her thoughts or vocal ability (how was she to know Eric had a thing for sopranos?). It’s to be a romance based in nothing but how pretty each is to the other.
Now, if Ariel actually knew a thing about Prince Eric other than how he likes boats and how he's handsome, then I’d be all for their star-crossed romance. Instead, we’re given a heroine who tells her family (who all love and support her) to F-off and sells her voice to a witch to have a chance to be with some guy she doesn’t even know. All of this is definitely the message you want to give to your impressionable young children.
- 2+ 413- 334Sleeping Beauty is the last princess movie to have had Walt Disney’s personal hand on it. She’s a princess who doesn’t know she’s a princess and therefore has no aspirations besides meeting other humans—preferably male humans. After 15 years of seeing animals bang in the woods, Briar Rose sings a little ditty called "I Wonder" where she basically mourns the fact that all the lady animals are getting some from their male cohorts and she hasn’t laid eyes upon a man in the entirety of her life. In fact, the only other people she knows are 3 fairies masquerading as humans to take care of her.
She’s so lonely, in fact, that she creates an imaginary "dream prince" and the animals play along (the owl acting as the prince). While they’re dancing and singing, however, a real prince comes along and starts dancing with her. This startles Briar Rose until Philip’s smooth line of, "We’ve met before … once upon a dream," wins her over. Yeah, nothing like telling a poor, desperate girl that you’re her dream prince to get some. It actually makes me wonder if the entirety of Sleeping Beauty happens in Briar Rose’s head (and how awesome, albeit f**ked up, would that be?). A girl so desperate for love, she rather sleep and dream of imaginary princes than live a life on her own, be it within the forest or outside.
- 3+ 346- 354The coolest thing about Cinderella is that her stepmother’s cat is named Lucifer. But this list isn’t about awesomely named animal sidekicks (though that list will surely come), so back to the princess at hand: Cinderella. So, she meets the prince, whirlwind romance, midnight strikes and she flees the scene. We all know the story. But the thing that I never understood about the story is those damn glass slippers: why didn’t they return to whatever matter they came from? The carriage returns to a pumpkin, the princess is once again a bumpkin, and yet the glass remains in slipper form. And what kind of a woman wears a glass slipper? Standard heels scare me enough, the chance that I might slip and it’ll shatter and tear my Achilles tendon does not do anything for me, but I’m obviously no princess. But neither was she, until she got a little help from a fat, old blue fairy woman.
Aside from constantly cleaning the house, putting up with three bitches and having rodent friends, Cinderella’s life wasn’t too bad. She lived without any sense of eminent danger, and she has a Fairy Godmother. Though, Cindy doesn’t know that until she wants to go to the royal ball. Seriously, where has that tart been all her life? "No, Cinderella, I wasn’t here because cooking and cleaning without talking back are all necessary skills you will need in life." But once that wicked stepmother cock blocks Cinderella from meeting Prince Charming? You better f**king believe the Fairy Godmother is going to appear and bibbity-bobbity-boo the f**k out of the situation to ensure that Cinderella gets her chance at some royal sausage. Again, girls, do your chores and get married. Aspire to nothing else. At least she and Prince Charming had some fine conversation for, what, five minutes at that royal ball, right? Enough to leave an impression that separated her from the other fine vixens of the kingdom.
- 4+ 265- 402What’s so bad about Jasmine? I mean, really she has a tiger! She actually attacks the villain! She’s one of the few princesses who is actually born a princess! That may be true, but unlike the other princesses on this list, Princess Jasmine is a supporting character, not the lead. The movie, as you may be able to guess by the title, is about Aladdin, not her. Although her existence as a woman who wants to live her life her way rather than according to the laws of men or her palace is an important turning point in the history of the Disney Princess, she is still very much a pawn in the film.
Her whole story arc in the film is about whether or not she’ll be married by her next birthday, so the next ruler of Agrabah may be chosen. She doesn’t get to rule the kingdom when she becomes queen, even though she is the sole heir! Nay, her husband gets the power and the p***y; she just gets stuck with some dick (take whatever meaning you want). The sultan, her father, spends a bulk of the film trying to find a suitable suitor for her. Additionally, this plot point is integral to the villain Jafar’s master plan as he desires her hand in marriage, not because he loves or cares about her, but for the title and power that would give him if they wed.
To Jasmine, the idea of marrying someone is so repulsive that she runs away. She is successful in her escape until she realizes she doesn’t understand a thing about how economy and trade works (which perhaps makes it a good thing that she won’t have any actual power as sultana) and is forced to reveal her identity to the guards and is ushered back into the kingdom. Obviously, she’s not too keen on the forethought. Nevertheless, despite all her rage, by the end of the movie, she finds a suitor. Granted, he is one of her choosing and so she is very much happy to have him, she is still following the orders of those men who were irritating her so furiously in the beginning of the film. So she’s a happy Sisyphus, at least.
- 5+ 294- 450Belle is the number one princess of choice among intellectual women. She reads, she thinks, she has a strong relationship with her father that isn’t on the borderline of creepy. She seems like a well-developed character, which is what makes her story the most destructive of them all. Belle is a woman who longs for adventure and yearns to make her life better. She wants to leave her small town to find a life worth living and a man worth loving, because that he-man misogynistic hunk of a hunter named Gaston just doesn’t cut it for her. Sadly, her plans are derailed when her father, in hopes to make their lives better, leaves her to enter his wood-chopping machine into the fair. After leaving for a few hours, his horse, Philippe, returns without him. Worried, Belle has Philippe take her to him. They find him locked in a cell in an otherwise seemingly abandoned castle. When accosted by the Beast, she suggests that her life be traded for her father’s. The Beast agrees, and that’s the end of Act 1.
Act 2 is dedicated to everyone in the castle trying to make Belle fall in love with the Beast, so she can break the spell. It’s basically a manipulation game where the Beast tries to act civilized to win the heart of the cultured peasant. And he wins, but in winning he is also changed—not just physically from a monster into a man, but within. At the beginning of the film, The Beast and Gaston are exactly the same person. They are both chauvinist assholes who don’t care about anyone but themselves and wager a woman’s worth based on her physical attractiveness. It is the Beast’s ability to change or, rather, Belle’s ability to change the Beast that turns him into the character that we love. And that is the problem with Belle and the movie itself: It teaches women that they can effectively change the man they love into the person they want him to be; or, conversely, that women should change to be with the person they love.
While I’m all for men not being assholes and becoming decent human beings, the message that it’s a woman who causes the change is definitely dangerous. Using a woman who is awesome and interesting as the vehicle of this message is additionally dangerous, as any woman who thinks herself deserving of a decent man but has a propensity for dating assholes may believe they can follow Belle’s route of changing men. But unless her person of interest has a horrifying curse affecting him, the change isn’t likely going happen. So, in the meantime, love the one you’re with and don’t expect change. You’re not a Disney princess and your life isn’t scripted in the manner of a fairytale.
- 6+ 184- 395Tiana is a character of high merit, despite looking exactly like Belle with a separate color pallet. She’s the first (and so far only) princess from the modern age and of sub-Saharan decent. She’s also the first princess to actually have and hold a job. Granted, she’s the first (historically speaking) heroine of this lineup who lives in a time when a woman holding down a job that isn’t model or governess wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Nevertheless, she’s a woman who can take care of herself and follow her own goals with or without a man, which is a good thing, because she’s also, regrettably, the first princess whose prince is completely incompetent.
Like Briar Rose, Tiana has no need or desire to become a princess. She only wants to fulfill her dead father’s dream of opening a restaurant (a little Elektra complex never hurt anyone, right?). It is actually the prince who is desperately trying to find a mate in this film. Prince Naveen comes to the US of A in search of a wealthy woman to marry because he is now penniless and unable to take care of himself. He has no skills or trade, aside from making women fawn over him. Tia, in fact, is repulsed by him, until long after they are both stuck with each other in frog form, while trying to regain their human bodies. It’s a union that comes from a shared suffering rather than love; in the vein of, "yeah, I’ll marry you if you’re the last man on earth." Only it’s "Yes, I’ll marry you if by some freak occurrence we both turn into amphibians and the only way I can have sex and it not be bestiality is with you." It’s disappointing that such a revolutionary character in the Disney princess line up is put together with a chump. He is the fool to Tiana’s straight man, screwing up her well played plans.