Before my children’s current obsession with superheroes, I was asked the question “Who’s your favorite princess?” more times than I needed to hear. Growing up, I’d never really given the question any thought. Lucky for me (and my parents), the Disney Princess franchise wasn’t really a thing in the 70’s. Looking back, I thought there was only one princess: Cinderella. I must have repeatedly viewed Disney’s 1950 version of the fairy tale because my memories of it are vivid. I’m assuming the other two princess movies available at that time weren’t part of my repertoire. Watching them now, I think I know why. Sleeping Beauty never grabbed my attention, and the ending when Maleficent turns into a dragon is too much for me to handle (or it probably was the one time I watched it as a child). Don’t even get me started with her names. Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora, Briar Rose…just pick a name and stick with it! Snow White was a classic story but I have a hard time enjoying it because it seems too old timey and out of touch. And that prince…I’m still not sure what the attraction is with him.
Times have changed, and princesses have evolved. I’d like to hope it’s for the better, as it’s important to have positive on screen role models for our children (girls & boys alike). I know Disney Princess allegiances are strong, so hopefully I won’t hurt any feelings as I give you my Top 4 Disney Princesses!
4. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
I feel a camaraderie with Belle right from the start. Anyone who has felt out of place in their lives (hello, high school!) can relate to Belle as she yearns to get out of the poor provincial town where no one seems to understand her. Plus she likes to read so she gets points for that. In addition, she shows bravery and an undying devotion to her father as she takes his place as a prisoner in the Beast’s castle. Beauty and the Beast is one of those movies that, embarrassingly brings the hopeless romantic in me to tears as Belle learns to love the Beast despite his brutish appearance.
3. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
Tiana has determination, which is why she’s in my top 4. Everything looks hopeless for her at the beginning of the movie, but her hard work pays off and she comes out a winner in the end. She’s a mold-breaking princess who puts her dream of owning a restaurant in front of landing a man. In the end, in true fairytale fashion, she winds up with both. Watching Prince Naveen’s transformation from a carefree, lazy playboy to a man (or a frog) with a good heart as he falls in love with Tiana is also a testament to her charm.
2. Merida (Brave)
The only princess in a Pixar film, Merida is definitely a badass. From the opening sequence as she rides through the forest with her bow and arrow, you can tell that she’s not your typical damsel in distress, and she proves that as she defies her parents’ wishes that she marry one of their allies’ sons. She breaks the Disney princess mold by realizing she doesn’t need a prince to be complete. She also has a really fun Scottish accent (which I believe is called a burr). When my kids watch this one, I just hope none of them decide to give me a cake with a spell attached, as I’d prefer not to turn into a bear.
1. Cinderella (Cinderella)
The only princess in my top 4 who was so special they named the movie after her. That has to count for something. This girl has been through it all: both her parents have died, there’s evil all around the house (stepmother, stepsisters, and the aptly named Lucifer), cleaning said house day and night, and her only friends are either feathered or furry. Throughout it all, she keeps a smile on her face and a sunny disposition, clinging to the understanding that someday her prince will come. It’s a little sad, and a little sappy, but when you’re a prisoner in your own home, I guess that’s what gets you through the day. In the end, she finds true love (we can only assume, as the courting period is rather quick) and exacts her revenge by living well. Well played, Cinderella.
Time to sound off! Who are your favorites & why?