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A Disney Princess Guide to Your Not So Happily Ever After

Remember way back in the ‘90s when you wanted to grow up to be a Disney Princess? Maybe you dressed up as Cinderella for Halloween or never went anywhere without your trusty royal tiara or sparkly heels. Or maybe, like me, you dressed up the family dog as the Little Mermaid just for laughs. As collegiettes, we were raised on Disney movies from Snow White to Cinderella, from Sleeping Beauty to Beauty and the Beast, and we learned more than a few simple lessons in love. We were taught to believe that every girl is a princess and deserves a prince, as well as her own happily ever after ending.

But now, after frat boys and weekend hookups, awkward drunk texting mishaps and secretly pining for that cute guy who sits next to you in English class, a happily ever after seems pretty hard to come by on campus… but that’s what we’re supposed to believe, right? If there’s one thing Disney has drilled into us, it’s that dreams really do come true.
But if you pop in one of these classic movies and read beyond the basic princess-meets-prince storyline, you’ll come to realize that real life lessons can be learned from our favorite princesses. Here’s a comprehensive guide to finding your own happily ever after, brought to you by our favorite Disney fairytales and the princesses we idolized as little girls.

Snow White

As “the fairest in the land,” Disney’s first princess, Snow White, is just like “that girl” at the kegger. You know the type – she loves attention from guys and she needs a group of them circled around her at all times. Co-ed living isn’t so out of the norm, but living with seven guys? That sounds like a frat house. Yuck. And although Snow White wasn’t hooking up with Sneezy, Dopey, and Grumpy, she’s definitely acting like their housewife. She caters to their every whim, cleans their house (with rabid cute and cuddly woodland animals), and cooks them hot meals, all the while waiting around for Prince Charming to ride in on his noble steed and sweep her off her feet. For lack of a better term, she’s a doormat for guys, not to mention a bit of a drama queen.

Princess Lesson #1 – Don’t be a Doormat for Guys

Want to make a prince campus cutie fall head over heels in love with you? Hanging around a house full of guys probably isn’t the best bet. Playing the jealousy card can backfire in the worst way. Not to mention that letting guys walk all over you and acting like a servant does not create respect in a relationship, and no one wants someone they can’t respect.

Sleeping Beauty

Picture this – you fall into a magical, semi-conscious stupor only to be awakened by the kiss of a prince. This sounds a little all-too familiar doesn’t it, collegiettes? It sounds to me like Princess Aurora aka “Sleeping Beauty” had one too many margaritas at the bar with her friends on Thirsty Thursday and woke up to a sloppy frat boy sucking her face.

Princess Lesson #2 – Avoid Drunk Hook-ups

If there’s one thing you can learn from Sleeping Beauty (and one too many vodka tonics), it’s this: drunken hookups are not sexy. Despite what happens in the movie, we know that not every guy who kisses you back to life or who you meet in the woods alone (creeper much?) is a prince. If you want to meet real guys and not just opportunists hanging by the bar, avoid Aurora’s scenario. And as for the “evil witch” who cast that spell? Well, we’ll just call her Smirnoff and leave it at that.


You just met the man of your Disney-inspired dreams. Sure, he’s a little shabby, but he’s adventurous and funny, he treats you right and his dorm has the best view of campus (not to mention he has a pretty rad carpet). You’re most likely not in an arranged political marriage like Jasmine, but you might be pressured to date other guys. Your friends and family don’t get “what you see in that guy” and you’re unfazed by that perfect guy from home who your mom is trying to hook you up with (“he’s pre-med, honey!”). Do what Jasmine did – follow your heart even if it means “climbing the palace walls,” so to speak.

Princess Lesson #3 – Look for the “Diamond in the Rough”

I’m not saying that if you’re greeted by a man in shabby clothes covered in dirt you should allow him to lead you down dark alleys and abandoned buildings into his “home.” But take a word of advice from the Sultan’s daughter – sometimes overlooking the flashy princes and giving the grungier-looking guy in the corner a second glance isn’t always a bad idea. He might just be a “diamond in the rough.”

Also as a side note, it doesn’t hurt to have a pet to cuddle with when that “dream guy” doesn’t work out. Tiger cats (like Rajah) are awesome.


Seeing Belle and Beast, you might call their relationship borderline abusive (Beast has some serious anger management issues). Sure, he’s a little hairy and is severely lacking in table manners (he eats soup like a dog), but… he’s a guy, right? And what are guys if not hairy and messy? You can change him, right?

Princess Lesson #4 –  You Can’t Change Him

Wrong! Don’t make Belle’s mistake and let your boyfriend become your project. Just because you might be able to teach him how to properly use silverware or ballroom dance doesn’t mean you can change a “beast” into a prince, no matter how much of a monster he was before you met him. Instead, try following some of Belle’s better examples of engaging in your boyfriend’s favorite hobbies – reading, playing in snowball fights, ballroom dancing, anything that you both can enjoy. 



Ok, so this fish-tailed princess doesn’t teach a lot of great lessons in love (drastically changing your body and ditching your friends and family for a guy doesn’t exactly promote a healthy message about body image and self-respect), but one thing we can take away from her fairytale story is how important communication and body language are to dating and someday meeting (and maybe even keeping) that special guy you’ve had your eye on.

Princess Lesson #5 –  Body Language Speaks Volumes

I know, I know – it’s been said a dozen times before, but it’s true. Eric can get to know and fall in love with Ariel even though she’s missing vocal chords (cue the singing seagulls, “kiss the girl, sha la la la la la…”) . Her fun-loving personality still shows through in her lovable quirks (although I wouldn’t suggest brushing your hair with a fork), her facial expressions, and her body language. Give it a try. You might end up feeling like a fish out of water, but even if you flop – maybe you trip or fall over (maybe your boat gets capsized like what happens to Ariel and Eric), you and your guy can always laugh it off. Guys will appreciate that you have a sense of humor and you’re not afraid to laugh at yourself.


I actually empathize a lot with Cinderella – squeezing my feet into those perfect must-have heels and running around campus with a million errands (it doesn’t involve evil demanding stepsisters, but you get my drift). Among other things (like knowing how to put in a hard day’s work and being kind even to those who treat you unkindly), Cinderella teaches us a very important lesson in love.

Princess Lesson #6 – Don’t Try to Be Someone You Aren’t

Between formals and parties, classes and walks around campus, it’s tempting to get dolled up for your guy every day, but don’t overdo it, especially if you start appearing to be someone you aren’t. If a guy is going out with you in the first place, caking on every kind of makeup you own and perfectly curling your hair on every date is only going to put pressure on you to maintain that image. Come that fateful day when you run into each other and you’re wearing your collegiate sweats with your hair tied up in a not-so perfect ponytail, he might not even recognize you right away. And as we learn in the end from Cinderella, the right guy will like you for who you are, not the shoes you’re wearing.


Sometimes our happy endings don’t always work out. As hard as you might try at a relationship, there’s always that thing, big or small, that drives you apart. For Pocahontas and John Smith, there was a lot going against them from the start. Racially and culturally, they were worlds apart (not to mention the whole you’re-stealing-my-land thing). You might not be a chief’s daughter and he may not be a pioneering Englishman, but chances are you’ll find yourself in a relationship where for one reason or another, your individual lives conflict and you have no choice but to part ways. You might go to different schools or be in different class years. He might graduate early or you might decide to study abroad. Sometimes, you just have to accept the fact that you are from two different worlds that can’t possibly coincide and sadly, you need to split up.

Princess Lesson #7 –  Sometimes a Break-up isthe Best Ending

Take a note from Pocahontas. If you end on amiable terms with your boyfriend, don’t let the break-up ruin the great memories you had with him. Remember that time you rolled around in the grass or went canoeing? Learn from the bad moments and treasure the good moments. Take the memories and move on. And if it doesn’t work out, you always have friends to fall back on… even if they areraccoons and willow trees.

With our girly notions of true love and happily ever afters, Prince Charmings and knights in shining armor, guys have a lot to live up to. I think one of the greatest lessons in love we can learn from Princess Aurora, Jasmine, Ariel and others, is that there really is no such thing as a happily ever after. You’ll always fight, you might even break up, and there will be time when you have to cut your guy some slack. All girls may be princesses, but remember: not all guys are Prince Charmings.

YouTube, The Second City Network’s Advice from a Cartoon Princess series

Alexandra is a graduate from the University of New Hampshire and the current Assistant Digital Editor at Martha Stewart Living. As a journalism student, she worked as the Director of UNH’s Student Press Organization (SPO) and on staff for four student publications on her campus. In the summer of 2010, she studied abroad at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, in England, where she drank afternoon tea and rode the Tube (but sadly no, she did not meet Prince Harry). Since beginning her career, her written work has appeared in USA Today College, Huffington Post, Northshore, and MarthaStewart.com, among others. When not in the office, she can be found perusing travel magazines to plan her next trip, walking her two dogs (both named Rocky), or practicing ballet. Chat with her on Twitter @allie_churchill.
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