How Disney Princesses Translate to Modern Times

It was a rainy day at my beach house in Marshfield, Massachusetts. With nothing better to do, I decided to watch Princess and the Frog on Netflix with my little sister and her friends. After the movie, I was overcome with tears of both joy and sadness. All I wanted, ever since I was little, was for my life to be just like a Disney movie. These Disney princesses are beautiful, intelligent, kind, and they manage to overcome every obstacle that life faces them with. 

Turning your life into a Disney movie may not seem realistic, but it actually is, as many of the stories we learn from Disney princesses can translate into modern times. While Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel, Ariel, and Belle may be initially viewed as the more traditional Disney princesses, each princess still teaches lessons that we can learn from while living in the 21st century. However, it is important to note that these movies do entail problematic situations.

remote control turning on the tv Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash For example, most of these princesses dreamed of their princes coming along to save the day. Belle suffered from a major case of Stockholm Syndrome from falling in love with the Beast. Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella acted as if being a homemaker (cooking and cleaning while the men worked) was the best way for a woman to go about her life-- when that is far from the truth. After all, these movies were made during a time where women were expected to become housewives and nothing else. Even though The Little Mermaid was produced in 1989, after the feminsit revolution of the 1960-70s, the film still reflected antifeminist beliefs. Ariel lived the perfect life as a princess in the underwater kingdom of Atlantica with her six older sisters, friends, and a loving father. But, she still felt as if her life wasn't complete without being a part of a man’s world. 

Yet, these movies display a sense of positivity that can be hard to come by in days like these. Despite each princess having a tough life, they each knew that if they kept on pushing through, that someday things would work out-- and indeed they did. This then taught millions of children that life will work out for all of us too. 

Photo of the castle during daytime with Christmas decorations Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels For instance, Rapunzel was locked in a tower for 18 years before Flynn Ryder “rescued” her (talk about a seriously long quarantine!). Once she was in the outside world, she turned it into her own, without relying on Flynn to be happy. Another example is princess Tiana. She worked her whole life to achieve her dream. Instead of praying for a prince to come and save her, she wished to accomplish her ambitious goal of starting her own restaurant. As I am determined to become a successful lawyer and politician one day, I can strongly relate to Tiana. Those nights where I studied while my friends would go on midnight runs to Waffle House weren’t always easy, but as Tiana once said, “What you give is what you get.” I always use this saying to push through. I realize that if I work hard for everything, it will eventually pay off.

Mulan’s story is incredibly honorable. Similar to Mulan, I share a special relationship with my father and would do anything for him. In doing the brave task of fighting as a male in the army to save her father, she not only ended up rescuing him, but saved all of China. Mulan showed that fighting for your loved ones and caring for family are true examples of honor. Princess Jasmine refused to marry any guy as she wanted a man who would respect her as an equal. In the end, Aladdin made Jasmine the leader of her own kingdom-- as it should be. This teaches young girls that they have the power to become leaders.

Princess Merida is seriously a queen. She showed her feeble suitors that she can do everything they can do, such as archery and horseback riding, which were viewed as solely “male activities.” Despite her mother yelling, “You’re a princess, act like one,” Merida showed that princesses are not just elegant and well-mannered, but that they are strong, intelligent, powerful, determined, and especially brave. Merida shows that any girl can be a princess no matter her skills, looks, or status. All girls are beautiful in each and every way, and we are all capable of achieving such great things in this world. 

Pexels Oftentimes at political events, I am still one of few women in the room, even in the 21st century. I plan to change that for good. By making sure that my voice is heard, like many of these Disney princesses did, I will inspire future generations of young womxn to become prominent leaders of society. 

These Disney princess movies were not made randomly. They were made to give young girls like me hope. I believe that someday, if I keep on working hard toward my goals, my dreams will come true. In the meantime, all I can do for myself is not to settle for any less than my best. Wishing on evening stars and throwing coins into fountains may help my wishes come true, but they can only bring me part of the way there. I know that in order to find both love and success in life, I must work for it. After all, Tiana told me that with hard work and determination, my dreams can come true.



Photo Credit: Her Campus Media Library