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A Definitive Ranking of Disney Heroines

25. Cinderella

            I give Cinderella major props for surviving years of abuse, but that’s about all she has going for her. If the Fairy Godmother hadn’t shown up, Cinderella wouldn’t have made it (though her fairy tale version had more agency).

24. Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell’s not exactly a heroine, but she has the personality to stand out in Peter Pan. Tink’s confidence, ambition, and strength earn her place on this list. But, besides mooning over Peter and looking at herself in mirrors, what are Tinkerbell’s interests? Does she have any? No.

23. Lilo

            The notion of changing herself to be better liked never enters Lilo’s head, even though she’s virtually friendless before meeting Stitch, which is admirable. That said, some of Lilo’s choices make no sense.

22. Esmeralda

      The OG activist, Esmeralda blends courage and strength with compassion. But we were all heart-broken when she chose neck-beard Captain Phoebus over Quasimodo.

21. Ariel

        A lot of people love Ariel, probably because of her infectious personality. I almost feel bad putting her so low on this list, but then I remember that she sold her voice to a sketchy witch so that she could have a fling with some dude she’d never even talked to before. Listen to your dad once in a while, Ariel.

20. Eilonwy

     Confession: I watched Black Cauldron for the first time just last year; once I got over the plot’s being set in motion by a clairvoyant pig, it’s not a bad movie. The same goes for Eilowny– once you get past her snobbishness, she’s a cool character.

19. Nala

     The only thing dragging Nala this low is her limited role in Simba’s story. They play together as cubs, and then Nala’s absent until later when she and Simba get busy in a relationship so quick it could only be Disney.

18. Megara

      Megara’s both sweet and competent. Plus, she has one of the catchiest songs. But not everyone can relate to her.

17. Anna

            I’ll be honest: for a long time, I disliked Anna. Her peppiness and carelessness prompt really dumb decisions (Marrying someone after knowing them for half a day? Sure, sounds great!), but then I grudgingly noticed her assets. Anna is loyal and devoutly moral; plus, she always comes back from her mistakes.

16. Wendy

     “Mother” describes Wendy perfectly: her caring, pragmatism, and occasional bossiness make her a god-send for the Lost Boys. Yet her self-importance complicates things.

15. Aurora

     My preference for Aurora stems at least in part from our bond: I, too, love to sleep for hours on end. Joking aside, though, Sleeping Beauty strikes a balance between the innocence of a Snow White or Ariel and the skepticism of a Belle.

14. Rapunzel

    Rapunzel, like Cinderella, suffers an abusive childhood, but hers lacks the directness of Cindy’s step-family. Because of this, the moment when Rapunzel finally breaks from Mother Gothel’s over-control to follow her heart instead becomes all the more powerful.

13. Jasmine

      The Arabian Princess earns points for her adventurous spirit and desire to move beyond her privilege. Plus, she has a tiger for her best friend, and how cool is that!? 

12. Merida

    Besides maybe Tarzan, I can’t think of many Disney movies that focus on parent-child relationships. Merida’s journey with her mother has a realness and relatabilty in spite of the whole turning-into-a-bear thing. Also, that hair.

(Note: I just remembered that Brave is technically a Pixar movie, but Disney produced it, so don’t @ me.)

11. Elsa

     The loneliness and pain that Elsa deals with goes by in an obviously expositional song, but it lends her a majesty (get it? Because she’s a queen?) that truly inspires.

10. Snow White

     It’s very stylish to dislike Snow White these days, but she’s the only one of the abused princess characters (why are there so many of these?) to show independence. Snow charms the Huntsman into sparing her, then works for her living with the dwarves. She doesn’t have Cinderella’s fairy godmother or Rapunzel’s Flynn Ryder, yet she remains kind-hearted, optimistic, and polite anyway.

9. Belle

     I keep picturing Emma Watson while writing this, but Belle as a character has an unique intelligence. Imagine how much it took for her to be herself in such a “provincial” and close-minded town! Arguments of Belle having Stockholm Syndrome for the Beast make sense, but don’t forget that she doesn’t fall for him until after she makes him into a better person.

8. Alice

     Despite her argumentive tendencies—or partially because of them?—Alice makes her way through a crazy and dangerous adventure by sheer force of spirit. She takes nothing lying down, and always stands up for what she knows to be right.

7. Pocahontas

     First, “Colors of the Wind” is 100% the best Disney song of all time. Second, Pocahontas both explores her ambitions and stays true to her roots, which exists as a goal for so many girls and women.

6. Tiana

    The only heroine to have a job, Tiana breaks barriers and gets stuff done. #NOLA!

5. Lady

     Okay, so she’s a dog. But Lady never wavers in herself, and she’s not afraid to confront even those she cares for when they do something wrong.

4. Jane

    Jane Porter is another young woman who struggles between what’s expected and what she wants. Yet she has an innate sense of self from the start, not even entertaining Clayton’s oppressive ideas and embracing the difference between Tarzan and herself.

3. Moana

   The most recent of these heroines, Moana tackles perhaps one of the bigger challenges in Disney. Who else literally had to make it through a place called the “Realm of 1000 Monsters?” Moana is brave, sensitive, and moral.

2. Kida

     The titular city of underrated film Atlantis: The Last Empire faces many perils, ultimately saved from by none other than their princess, Kida. Unlike many Disney girls, Kida does not have to do anything as dramatic as changing her entire life to succeed. Rather, she uses the strength of her background to her advantage, acting (in this vein) more realistically than fantastical.

1. Mulan

   There’s no way around Mulan’s awesomeness. With everyone against her—even those who otherwise care about her—the girl saves her nation and makes strides for women. Though few of us have to go as far as disguising our genders to fight a one-dimensionally evil army, we could all do with some of Mulan’s attitude.

If you are interested in writing an article for Her Campus Davidson, contact us at [email protected] or come to our weekly meeting Monday at 8 p.m. in Chambers 1003.

Kathryn is a sophomore at Davidson College, coming from Virginia. She likes animals, hot chocolate, and Victorian British Literature.
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