Top 8 Empowering Disney Princess Movies

8) “Aladdin” (1992)

            Although this movie is titled “Aladdin”, Jasmine should not be forgotten. Jasmine is extremely sassy, and is empowering because she doesn’t fit into the “perfect, little, well-behaved princess” narrative. She won’t be bossed about, and refuses to agree to an arranged marriage. 

7) "The Little Mermaid" (1989)

            Although Ariel does make some questionable choices, “The Little Mermaid” is truly about breaking free and following your dreams. Ariel is bold. She breaks the rules and takes risks to fulfill her dreams. She fearlessly goes after what she wants and has a mind of her own.

Empowering Song: Part of Your World (Reprise)

6) “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

            Belle doesn't fit in because she is too progressive for her time. She loves to read (even though it isn’t “proper” for a woman to read), and wants more for herself than being someone’s “little wife.” In addition, Belle proves herself to be brave when she rescues her father by trading places with him. Belle fiercely protects and defends what she loves, and is also not afraid to reject the boorish Gaston and stand up to the frightening Beast.

Empowering Song: Belle (Reprise)

5) “Brave” (2012)

            In “Brave” Brave, Merida rebels against traditional gender roles. She doesn’t want to be a princess. She doesn’t want to practice walking with a book atop her head, but would rather be shooting arrows from her stallion. In addition, Merida rejects the arranged marriage her parents set up for her with full force. Instead of choosing a husband based off  who is the best bowman, Merida shows them all up in the sport before eventually going on a quest to save her mother and kingdom.

Empowering Song: Touch the Sky

4) “Frozen” (2013)

            This movie got a ton of hype, and then received backlash for its success. However, the wonderful thing about this princess fairytale is that it is not about a guy. It is about two women. Elsa learns to accept herself and comes into her own; when Anna finds out that Prince Charming is not actually Prince Charming, she doesn’t let it keep her down. Instead, Anna herself becomes the knight in shining armor by saving her sister. This story is empowering because it is not about romantic love, but instead about self-love and familial love—love between sisters; love between women.

Empowering Song: Let It Go

3) “Moana” (2016)

            “Moana” is similar to “Mulan” in some of the movie’s key plot points. For example, Moana doesn’t fit in with her town, she can’t be the “perfect daughter” and she breaks the rules to ultimately save her people. Both of these princesses kick butt however, and Moana embodies female empowerment as a determined heroine.

Empowering Song: How Far I’ll Go

2) “Hercules” (1997)

            Although Meg isn’t a princess (or a goddess), I would argue that she deserves her spot as #2. Meg is one tough cookie. When Hercules tries to save her, she simply replies “I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this. Have a nice day.” Meg describes herself as a “big, tough girl,” refuses to go gaga over Hercules and fights to protect the people she loves.

Empowering Song: I Won’t Say I’m in Love

1) “Mulan” (1998)

            Mulan is inarguably the most empowering Disney Princess role model there is. She is not of royal descent, but she is the “savior of China,” so we count her anyway.    

            First of all, the entire movie highlights how wrong it is to treat women as second-class citizens. Further, Mulan breaks free of traditional gender roles by refusing to stand on the sidelines where her culture tells her is her place as a woman. She joins the army to save her father, proves that she can do anything a man can do and ends up being the savior of her nation.

            Although the song is titled “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (which perpetuates negative ideas about gender), it is played during a scene where Mulan fights tooth and nail to be a capable soldier, and eventually succeeds—proving she can do anything she sets her mind to, even when all the odds are stacked against her.

Empowering Song: I’ll Make a Man Out of You