After 75 Years, Disney’s Princesses Begin to Evolve

by Jennifer Welsing

Is the Disney Princess, that grumbled-over cultural staple, slowly but surely evolving into something more than a girl to be rescued? I think so.

Snow White, Disney’s first princess, is now 75 years old and still as beautiful and vulnerable as she ever was. But what about the princesses that came afterward. Cinderella? Ariel? The latest, Merida? Are they just as dainty? Say what you want about how cookie-cutter the Disney princess look is; small-waisted, doe-eyed, perfect teeth. And say what you want about how it took Disney 50 years to expand to races other than caucasian (and they still manage to have the same small waisted doe-eyed look). But if you watch, movie by movie, each princess grows into a stronger woman in her own way.

Since Disney debuted their first princess, the roles women hold in the world have changed. Women have moved beyond the house and into the workplace, and become more independent—and so has the Disney Princess. She’s now being written with the agency to go out and get what she wants. While Snow White may have stayed at home with the dwarves while waiting for Prince Charming to come rescue her, the other princesses left the house (or castle, or ocean) to get what they were looking for. For some it was a career (Tiana) or the chance to fix a mistake (Merida). Belle was running from unwanted love when she stumbled upon her prince by seeing past all the furry BS.

Whatever ideal Disney is trying to portray in its princesses still needs a bit of redefining. But it looks like they are realizing, however slowly, that girls don’t want to stay inside and wait for their adventure to start. They want to be in control of their own happily-ever-afters.

To read a movie by movie synopsis of each Disney Princess, go here.

Photos via Disney

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