As a preteen I wanted nothing to do with the princess obsession. I absolutely did not want to be a princess....

...because what's the future in it?

Ok, imagine you are a princess or Cinderella or the virtuous poor virgin girl recognized as pure and perfect by some prince. The two of you fight the dragon or authorities or parental disapproval or whatever. You are either charming or a good worker or both and birds and animals adore you. You get in trouble and have to be rescued... poisoned apples, glass slippers, whatever.

The prince wins you and now what? Your big day comes, the most important day of your life, white dress and marriage (and why, I wonder, is having sex for the first time supposed to be the most important day of one's life? Really?) and now...

Uh. Well. Now you are Queen. The King rules the kingdom. You can clean the castle and you are a sperm catcher incubator. You get to have babies. Disney Queens do not co-rule. They are housewives with a crown.

I wanted nothing to do with being a princess. Queen was not my ambition, unless I got to be Elizabeth III. I wanted to be an astronaut, a brilliant scientist, win the Nobel prize, write the Great American Novel, explore Mars, design and build giant bridges. In Kindergarten I thought "girl on a float" would be a great thing to be. You dress up, wave and people like you. No prince required. Hand me that sword, I'll rescue myself, swords are fun.

I saw no glory in vacuuming, in housecleaning, in sewing or knitting (I learned both), in laundry. I could be a famous and sought after chef, that would be ok. Rich woman, poor woman, beggarwoman, thief. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.....

BQ 299

In defense of the modern iteration of the Disney Princess, she exhibits positive qualities well-suited to Disney’s target primary school age audience . The Princess(es) is/are often orphan(s) or otherwise separated from their parents (e.g. Rapunzel in Tangled), but this separation serves a narrative purpose. Removal from parental oversight causes the Disney Princess to be/become self-reliant and proactive. These are important qualities for primary kids to see and value as they learn to take small steps away from their own parents.

The Disney Princess is not grasping or materialistic, in the way a slur like "she’s such a princess" might suggest. She works hard, even if born into privilege. She is compassionate and kind. She explores or goes off on adventures and overcomes barriers. She has a positive, can-do attitude. She stands up to evil and wrong-doing even at personal cost. She wins the day by being a good person and doing what is morally right, even when that's not the easy choice.

To focus on a lack of career ambition or to worry about a weak match-making sub-plot is to read too much into characters that are mainly proxies for primary grade girls. Close observation of primary girls watching these films tells me that such threads are accepted as the macguffins they are, but otherwise ignored. Prince-chasing never seems to factor into subsequent role-play.

Having the kids see and want to emulate these strong, kind, and capable female characters is not a bad thing at all. It's a lack of such role models as they outgrow the animated Disney offerings that should perhaps concern us more.

BQ'16 266

One aspect of the Disney Princess Role Model that sticks with me, and by that I am referring to the one that entered Disney's consciousness in the late 80s and beyond (I am ignorant of anything prior to that time for obvious reasons) that is worrying is its emphasis on the male/female relationships therein.

Ariel, the princess from The Little Mermaid, is really fascinated with the boy she saved from drowning. In other to get with him, (reacting to her father's anger that she's interested in humans at all) she defies her dad in every way by visiting a sea witch who basically uses her as a pawn to try and usurp the entire sea kingdom. Of course, she's a strong, independent person who doesn't need to listen to anyone at all until she falls afoul of her bad decisions (and because the Prince is a commitment-phobe, typical man) and here comes Dad to the rescue, literally sacrificing everything and having himself turned into an anthropomorphic piece of kelp to save her.

This is no way feminist - replace Prince with "bad guy from the other side of the tracks Dad refuses to let you date, you're only 13", the Faustian bargain with a sea witch with stealing the family car, and Ursula taking everything over with a tearful call from a police station and some insurance problems and the only thing different about this story is that Ariel wasn't wearing yoga pants nor was she drinking a pumpkin spice latte, like, okay?

Later on the princesses became rather butchy with a clear case of being manlier than thou. The rat from "Flushed Away" is a street smart take-no-prisoners badass chick who can't help but eyeroll at the pampered, tuxedo'd house rat she's saddled with (and falls in love with, because obviously that's the way things work). Mulan subs in for her dad and goes to war because reasons, and saves the entire empire (okay, so the historical Mulan actually really was a badass - but still.)

It's almost like Disney just cannot let a female character BE a strong independent female character. You have to throw in daddy issues and incompetent potential mates into the mix. I can totally understand why people wanted a change from the "wears dresses, needs rescuing" model, but is this really any better?

RE the whole Disney Princess thing...This is an interesting debate, and I would just like to add a somewhat different point of view. I grew up about the time Disney was making Snow White and the ilk, and I remember my feelings distinctly. After all, the creative team at Disney at that time was almost exclusively male, and the princesses were the sort of feminine ideal a man creates- a radiant being to strive for, to be worthy of, to fight battles for, to protect, rescue and cherish...of course this has nothing to do with what real women are like, and the same was and is true of the male ideal created by women- the chap who sacrifices everything in pursuit of his one true love. In the general run of novels written by either sex even today you can see the same dichotomy. It is fashionable to sneer at such stereotypes these days, and to be fair and objective both images have done incalculable harm to the individuals of both sexes who have single-mindedly striven to mold themselves into what they think their gender opposites want them to be: i.e., an acceptable sexual partner.

Shall we be realistic and realize that this stereotypical way of viewing the opposite sex owes its origin to an age, not so very long ago, when the end of procreation was pretty much the end of life? I don't mean to be patronizing, boys and girls, but there can come a time when the woman or man you are with becomes simply another mind with a slightly different and therefore fascinating way of thinking- if you are lucky and have chosen wisely.

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