While historically Disney doesn’t exactly have the best rep for being inclusive or tolerant (Google Walt Disney—he was notttt the most chill guy when it came to anyone who was not white, Christian, and male), our favorite princess movies have really gotten their act together, especially more recently. But even before Disney set the world aflame by—gasp—having two male characters kiss, the princesses knew what the fuck was up. Like, even before we knew what feminism was or why we needed it in our lives, the Disney princesses were serving up a big ol’ slice of feminist pie in their movies. Not all of them—lookin’ at you, Princess “give up my best attribute in hopes of kissing a guy” Ariel—but a lot of them were woke af. So we’re taking the time to celebrate these animated feminist heroes. Below, the most feminist Disney princesses, in no particular order because we’re not about pitting women against each other (today).
Belle was a fucking G. Who knew women in 18th-century provincial France were already woke? I mean, this is the country that brought us Joan of Arc, so it all makes sense. Anyway, Belle was the original Strong Woman Who Don’t Need No Man™. When fuckboy suitors (ahem, Gaston) came calling, she didn’t let them or society pressure her into getting married so she could leave her father’s house and embark on an exciting career of cleaning the house and grocery shopping. She fought for her right to be left TF alone so she could read her books. Speaking of books, Belle was obvi smart AF, and you all know how we feel about smart women: we love them, the GOP hates them.
Unlike the girls from your sorority whose highest aspirations were to obtain an MRS degree, Tiana dreams of opening her own business—a restaurant, no less. From what I’ve gathered from watching a shameless number of hours of Kitchen Nightmares and Bar Rescue, I know that opening a restaurant is the riskiest business venture there is. Tiana is not some rando with an Etsy jewelry shop—she is the real deal. She works two jobs to earn enough money to turn some ratchet sugar mill into a restaurant, and we wholeheartedly respect her hustle (even if we ourselves only “hustle” when we’re rushing to get ready to go out). Also, despite all Naveen’s charm and obvious good looks, Tiana doesn’t fawn over him right away because she knows getting tangled up with a fuckboy is only going to hinder her dreams. Smart girl.
Meg is independent AF, almost aggressively so. She isn’t your damsel who needs to be rescued, and her only weakness—before Hercules comes along and fucks up her shit—is “weak ankles.” Which, incidentally, is the same answer I give in job interviews.
^I’m just gonna leave that there. Jasmine has fucking integrity. When random princes from far-away kingdoms come knocking, she is not impressed—if Jasmine gets married, she’s doing it for love and not for money or power. That is also what I tell my dad when he asks why I’m 25 and still single. Anyway, Jasmine isn’t afraid to speak her mind, even if her dad gets mad at her and an evil sorcerer almost kills her and the man she loves in the process. That takes a special kind of bravery. And while we are not down with the way women are too often seen as sex objects, we can understand why Jasmine would use her sexuality to distract the crazed psychopathic sorcerer-turned-genie who is trying to drown the guy she actually likes in a life-sized hourglass. It is a practice more commonly known as “working with what you’ve got.”
Do I even have to explain it? Fine, I’ll do it. Mulan A) defies gender roles and joins the army even though doing so could get her killed B) is a fucking badass warrior C) FUCKING SAVES CHINA FROM A HUN INVASION SINGLE-HANDEDLY. Ya. Sorry Shiang and your band of (lovable) clowns. You ain’t shit. Mulan for Emperor! Ayayayay!
For some reason I still don’t understand, it took until 2013 for a Disney princess to realize that it’s completely ridiculous to marry a guy she’s only known for a day. Like, way to be slow on the upkeep, Disney. Elsa is QUEEN which obviously demands respect. Because of her special powers, Elsa was brought down by her family for her entire life until one day she just said “fuck it, I can’t let the haters keep me down anymore” and went off on her own and built her own ice palace where she could do whatever the fuck she wanted. Is Elsa every feminist, and are Elsa’s parents and the kingdom in general an allegory for the patriarchy? Who’s to say? Well, me, and I’m saying yes.
Yeah we all know Brave as a movie was garbage, but at least it brought us Merida. This girl doesn’t care about fuckboys or doing “typical feminine” things—which we resent as a concept anyway because gender roles are bullshit. Merida is also super good at archery even though it’s a typical “male” sport and if her mom had her way, she’d be wearing dresses and attending etiquette classes or whatever women were “supposed” to do back then. Merida is basically the Scottish Katniss Everdeen, sans Hunger Games—only Merida is like, 12 years old, I think. She also does not give a single fuck about her appearance, despite having a gorg head of red hair, which is just another “fuck you” to the patriarchy and society’s beauty standards. I am here for it.
Pocahontas is smart as hell and independent af—and no, I don’t mean that because her best friends are a raccoon and a tree. Our girl P-Money (K, I’ll stop) stands up to her dad who’s not an ordinary dad, he’s a cool dad the fucking chief. And I mean that not like how your dad calls everybody “chief” as a term of endearment, but in the way Native American people say it, which is more meaningful I think. Like, I’m afraid to ask my dad for money because I blew out my tire again—imagine asking him for the ability to make your own decisions and forge your own destiny. Yah, it’s a BFD. Pocahontas makes the cardinal mistake of falling for a racist white man, BUT at the end when she’s given the choice between living with racist-turned-bae John Smith or staying and helping her tribe, she chooses the later. Pocahontas probably invented the phrase “hoes before bros” because she’s a down-ass bitch. She is quite literally ride or die.