The Evolution of Disney Princesses

I believe I can assume correctly when I say that Disney has made an incredible impact on the lives of people my age and still continue to.  I can still remember watching The Lion King and The Little Mermaid on VHS (I feel old) as a little kid.  Even as I grew older, Disney continued to create heartwarming movies that everyone could watch and enjoy. While many of these stories differ greatly from one another, there is one type of fairytale story that we never tire of.

The Disney Princesses.

Disney princesses have always been a huge part Disney’s franchise. While we continue to see trailers for new movies of different princesses, we never seem to grow bored of them. One of these reasons may be in part of the evolving storylines of these princesses. The lessons and morals we learn from these stories have changed drastically between Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Frozen, and have only improved for the viewers, even including girls and boys my age!

Let’s start from the beginning.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora are Disney’s three original princesses.  The animation is the oldest and in a way, the most beautiful.  But what exactly can we learn from their stories? Here are a few ideas.

1.      Always hold onto hope.

2.      Always remain kind and considerate.

3.      Life is not always fair, but learn to take the best out of it.

4.      Love conquers all.

While these lessons hold strength and should not be demeaned, I feel there is something missing from these tales.  While watching these movies, I hardly see any form of loving relationships between these princesses and their guardians. I do not see much of their childhood and I failed to connect with them as a child myself. While I loved seeing these princesses finally find true love, I realized, to my shock, that they only knew these man for a day before choosing to marry them! What kind of lesson is that for young children? It was as if the only way these princesses could find true happiness was through their handsome prince.

The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998)

Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan introduce many new lessons for their audiences. Here are just a few lessons added on to our list.

5.      Fight for what you believe in.

6.      Protect the ones you love.

7.      Stand up for yourself.

These stories present a profound importance to family. Mulan, in fact, does the near-unthinkable and becomes a man in order to protect her father! These princesses are much stronger and determined to get what they want. We still do not see their childhood, but a stronger character development happens with these princesses. We see how they change throughout the film and how they become a better person. The leap to these princesses is incredibly impressive and I am so happy I get to say that I grew up in this decade!

The Princess and the Frog (2009), Tangled (2010), Brave (2012), Frozen (2013)

Our most recent princesses bring up the bar very high for any princesses in future movies! Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, and Elsa (technically, we would have to put Elsa in the Queen category) bring up some incredibly important lessons that are relevant for girls and boys right now.

8.    Work hard for what you want.

9.    Let no one tell you what you can and cannot do.

10.  Always put family first.

11.  You do not need a man to gain respect.

12.  Learn to love and respect yourself.

These types of lessons and role models are exactly what children and young adults need to see. We see these characters grow from children into women, and face all their struggles with them. We watch them attempt to fulfill their dreams, without a strong reliance on romance. These princesses have visions for themselves and fight to win their dreams. They learn to respect and love themselves more than any other princess before. Even I, a college-aged student, find myself entranced by these strong women in these films! 

In the year 2014, we now have incredibly strong princesses who teach all of us (at least) 12 important life lessons. The character development from Snow White to Elsa is staggering and has grown incredibly powerful for people of all ages!  We can all learn something valuable from these princesses, no matter how old we are.

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.