10 Reasons Moana Is the Disney Heroine We've Been Waiting For

Within 48 hours of "Moana" being released in the United States, I had seen this movie twice. It has already managed to claim a spot in my top five movies of all time—everything from the plot to the soundtrack and the staggeringly beautiful aesthetics of the stunning animation has stolen my heart. But the most important part of the film, of course, is Moana herself. I'd been wishing for a character like her for such a long time, and I couldn't be more ecstatic that she's finally here. In case you haven't seen it yet or just somehow failed to see how completely incredible she is, here are a few reasons why she's just about the greatest thing ever. 

1. She was intentionally designed with a realistic body type in mind.

Many of Disney's princesses, while lovely, have been drawn with unattainable standards of beauty. Often, their body types have been incredibly improbable, if not altogether impossible to achieve in actuality. Moana, however, was drawn with a body that could very easily belong to a 16-year-old girl in real life. As I watched the movie, I was struck time and time again by the realization of how gorgeous she was, but also how incredibly real she was.

2. Representation.

As a little girl, I was always 100 percent cognizant of the fact that there were no Disney princesses who looked like me. I knew that, and I felt excluded, like there was inherently something undesirable about my appearance because it wasn't properly represented in the media. This film does more than just show images of Polynesian people—it really seeks to connect to the culture and spirit of these places and brings them to the forefront, which does not often happen in mainstream popular media. Little girls can watch this movie and see a Disney heroine who looks like them and lives like them, which is so incredibly beautiful and so incredibly necessary.

3. Her. HAIR.

This is the first time Disney has designed a character with hair like hers, and I found it to be one of the most captivating aspects of the entire film. Growing up as a woman of color, I've come to understand just how incredibly monumentally important hair texture can be in terms of representation and ethnic identity. Very rarely is it ever just hair, and I completely fell in love with the animation of Moana's curls and all that they signify. Incidentally, the animators had to develop new techniques to capture her hair type, simply because it was so vastly different from anything they'd done before.

4. The audition process to find her voice.

The creators of this movie deliberately set out with the intention of establishing a cast with ties to the Pacific Islands. There was a massive open call, and I remember watching eons of video footage on YouTube. The fact that so many young women were given the opportunity to be the voice of a character with ties to their identity was incredibly beautiful.

5. The precious baby queen who was cast to voice the leading lady.

Let's be real here, very rarely are teenaged characters voiced by anyone vaguely within their age range. However, Moana is canonically 16 years old and her voice actor, Auli'i Cravalho, was 14 when she was given the role. Incidentally, she turned 16 within a couple of days of the movie being released. Additionally, she is a native Hawai'ian and looks very much like her character; this is coincidental (they designed Moana before Cravalho was cast) but awesome nonetheless. Aside from the logistics of her casting, this girl is an adorable ray of sunshine with a killer voice. She's sweet and funny and seeing her face on social media never fails to brighten my day. If you're not following her already, go do so immediately.

6. Her story is focused on her strength and self-discovery.

Moana is truly at the center of her own story; unlike many Disney movies, her experiences are in no way defined in terms of a romantic relationship. Instead, the plot centers around her understanding of herself, her identity, and just how much she can do. She is incredibly powerful, and the film focuses on the ways in which she comes to take ownership of that power.

7. Her name means "ocean" in Hawai'ian, which is pretty cool.

It functions both as a word and as a non-gendered name. I thought this was a really nice nod to her connection to the sea and to the central themes of the film.

8. Her outfit was designed to be as authentic as possible.

When the creators came up with her outfit, the objective was to create clothing that she could realistically have worn—both in geographical and chronological senses. All of the materials that were incorporated into her outfit would have actually been possible to find on her island.

9. Baby Moana.

She's shown as a toddler for some very important moments towards the beginning of the film, and look what a perfect little munchkin she was!

10. Have I mentioned how stunning she is?

Seriously, she's absolutely beautiful and I'm obsessed.

If you're still not convinced, check out this list of all the extra special things about this movie. And if you are convinced, read it anyway because you'll probably be super excited about these facts, too.

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