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3 Ways Emma Watson Turned Belle Into a Feminist

The new live version of Beauty and the Beast has taken movie theaters by storm. Emma Watson has completely reinvented the role of Belle and is now inspiring young girls to be a new, more progressive kind of princess. Here’s how.

1. Her fashion alterations

Emma Watson made a subtle, yet impactful feminist statement with her alterations to Belle’s classic provincial outfit. Instead of the dainty ballet slippers Belle wears in the animated film—which, let’s be real, would make all the ass-kicking she does pretty unconventional—for sturdy ankle combat boots. As well as her shoe makeover, Emma Watson gave her Belle a dress that was cute, but actually functional. Watson swapped Belle’s original blue dress and simple apron combo for a layered frock with pockets for her books and tools. Plus, Belle got bloomers so she had the ability to move with more freedom and less worry about being ladylike.

2. Her refusal to accept the role of damsel in distress

In the original film and in the Broadway musical, Belle was distraught over her fate being sealed as the Beast’s prisoner. As you may remember in the animated film, there is a perfectly dramatic scene where Belle flings herself onto her bed at the castle and weeps. However, in Emma Watson’s portrayal of the princess, she turns her tears into action. Watson’s Belle gets started on her escape plan right away by tying together piles of clothing and trying to make an escape route out the window. Watson transforms Belle into a quick thinker and problem solver rather than a character who just sits and waits for someone to come to her rescue. Although Emma Watson does show a lot of emotion in the character, making Belle all the more of a human princess, she creates a perfect balance of emotion and efficiency.

3. Her determination

Originally, Belle was a pretty self-motivated Disney princess. However, Emma Watson takes her to the next level. In multiple scenes in the new live version of the movie, Watson’s character is sharing stories with children (instead of sheep like in the animated version) and teaching them how to read. On top of this determination to spread her knowledge and love of books with the younger girls in her village, Belle also puts her mind to creating new inventions. In the animated film, Belle was merely an assistant to her father, but Emma Watson creates a Belle who invents a makeshift washing machine and comes up with witty inventions throughout the film.

10/10, Emma Watson, 10/10. 

Freshman at Emerson College, theater kid, coffee addict, and Delawarian at heart.
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