In this day and age, women are a fierce and powerful force in the world both at home and in the workplace. Women are CEOs of major companies, they are in film and behind the camera, they are authors and teachers and heads of state. Women are strong. In this era in the 21’st century American/Western culture, we know this to be true. Women can be whatever they want to be. They can fix cars, run for president and become life-saving doctors or they can be stay at home moms, home school teachers, art teachers, physics teachers and they can be college professors, engineers, astronauts and animators. I grew up believing I could be anything I wanted to be. Some women seem to think there are obstacles to this reality presenting negative images to girls in the form of princesses. They see princesses as objectified, idiot women who have to be saved by someone else to have their happy ending.
There is a meme floating around Facebook right now that gets my blood boiling every time I see it. I have pasted it below for your reference:
I believe this is ANYthing but the case and the reason I get so upset about it, is it feels like these things exist just to put down these iconic figures of childhood and impose some ridiculous, feminist agenda over what is truly a collection of beautiful stories with great lessons. People see what they want to see and by seeing such negativity in something so innocent and potentially positive, does a disservice to everyone. I understand that people see what they relate to and if they relate to the concept of women being objectified and stupid, that’s what they’ll see before they see the positive lessons. If they suffered from a negative love life or a bad family situation where they grew up believing they were worthless, they typically see princesses as frivolous, stupid girls with no sense of self who can only be happy because of their princes. I, personally, have a rational head on my shoulders and I am a confident person who believes wholeheartedly that you are what you choose to be. No one MAKES you do anything- Whatever you are and whatever you believe- you allow it to be true and have the power to either take control, or you can become the victim and allow media, men, Disney movies or who/whatever other outside influence is powerful in your life to shape your choices and make your decisions for you. It’s YOUR choice and I believe the princesses of the Disney universe embody this ideal of choice and character, providing a commanding presence of goodness as a role model in our lives as women.
So here’s my version of the meme above, with a few more princesses added in.
Snow White- Maintain your innocence, purity of heart and your ability to love and don’t lose faith in love- EVER. Don’t believe it when people tell you that innocence isn’t beautiful- it is. The only people who will say that are the people who lost theirs long, long ago and are bitter old hags inside. Don’t be afraid to love at first sight and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you find life is too difficult to face alone. Your strength is in your ability to love freely, even and especially loving those who might do you harm- they need your compassion most of all. The friends you cherish will return that love with their loyalty to you, till the end because they see your true heart, your pure heart.
Sleeping Beauty- Sometimes people just do horrible things for selfish reasons and hurt people because they’re hurt inside, themselves. Sometimes you’re born in a crappy situation where you have to fight battles that you didn’t start and really, had absolutely nothing to do with you. That’s okay. It sucks, but if you draw on your inner strength and remember you always have an ally no matter how dark things are, or how lost you may feel, you can face the demons holding you back with courage. Sometimes we make mistakes. We give ourselves over to temptation and we lose ourselves in it. Trust that because you are a decent, loving and kind person, the people around you who truly love you, will always do whatever they can can to reach you, pull you back from the darkness and wake you up. Just because you have had evil done to you, doesn’t mean you have to fear your life. It also doesn’t mean you have to fight alone. Live, dance, sing with abandon and love recklessly knowing you are strong enough to handle it. The only people who will ever tell you to do otherwise, are those who don’t have that strength themselves.
Little Mermaid- Some people are just born in the wrong place. You may wake up one day and realize; “I am nothing like my family and everything I want to be is someplace else! I want nothing they have and I need to find my own path!” When that happens, you know there will be resistance. People are afraid of change, of what they don’t understand. Remember they love you and they put restrictions on you because they are afraid, not because they don’t want to see you happy. The reality is, it’s okay to be an individual in a sea full of schools who all look and move the same. It’s okay to step out of the water into a new, terrifying world and it’s okay to hold onto your dreams and demand they become your reality, even if that means you need to change a few things about yourself. Sometimes changing your body is like making your body truly your own for the first time. Whether it’s hair, body art/modification or letting go of something that used to identify your personality, it’s okay to change when you do it because YOU want to. It’s okay to move closer to who you really are by abandoning who you were before. Just remember there are dark, angry and vindictive people in the shadows who are always willing to take someone’s passion and use it against them. Even when you have been beaten, that doesn’t mean you give up- that means you do whatever you can to get back on your feet and demand the life you want. Those around you will be drawn to you and love you, they will fight by your side and become champions for you, not because of what you say or what you look like, but because they see your spirit, your kind heart, your passion and your desire to experience the world in every way possible.
Jasmine- Even if you grow up in a culture where there are rules about who you are to become and you’ve been told you must honor your heritage by giving up who you wish to be, remember your passion and your individuality is a greater jewel than all the treasure in the world. You alone are the keeper of your heart and you make your own path- you don’t have to live someone else’s dreams. Education, compassion and fire of spirit are qualities to be cherished, ignited and given power, never squelched. Seek out someone who will love that fire, someone who will encourage that passion- never settle for anything less than you know you deserve and always remember; a prince does not a gentleman make.
Cinderella- The reality of the world is such that bad things happen to good people, good children, innocent souls are hurt and experience loss that shapes their spirits, even defines who they are as people. That doesn’t mean that good things cannot happen, too! Don’t lose heart and don’t wallow in despair just because you’ve been dealt a bad hand. If you keep gentleness, love and forgiveness in your heart, if you love your enemies, embrace the poor and provide comfort for the lost and afraid no matter how meek they are, love and light will always be drawn to you. If you seek the love and joy in all things and even menial tasks, in dark times when all seems lost, karma might just send a little magic your way. Charity, love, healing and compassion, even to the face of evil, is a powerful kind of magic that cannot be broken by hate or destroyed by selfish cruelty. Never give up your loving heart for the bitterness of a life not lived. Go live that life instead of crying about what might have been. Give love charitably to all, even those who would oppress you hoping that one day, they will see the power in forgiveness themselves, and also find healing.
Belle- Never sacrifice your passion for a caged life just because society tells you that’s what’s best and if you find yourself inside a real cage, use your brain- not your tragedy, to get you out. Self sacrifice, passion for life, self-assuredness with an extra dose of confidence will always see you through hard times. If you are confident to handle life on your own, you can achieve anything. Those who prey on the unusual and bully anyone who is different can never see the beauty of true individualistic passion for life. Creative ingenuity can sometimes seem awkward but it will always put you ahead of the pack. Contrary to popular society standards, it’s okay and even encouraged to break the mold, step out into the “great wide somewhere” and make your own story, before you ever settle for fitting into someone else’s. Your ability to see the world, and people, for who they really are is your greatest strength. Wield that truth like a sword and it can unlock all the magic of the universe.
Princess Sofia- sometimes we are led into worlds that don’t feel like our own and it feels like we don’t belong. Sometimes we shy away from new things because they are scary and change is hard. Leaving behind things we know and people we love can feel cruel and it’s okay to be angry. Just remember, a family is not always who we are related to, but who we know we can count on. Sometimes, people act cruelly because they are hurt inside… Try to see that hurt, have compassion for it and offer your hand in friendship, not judgement. The power of a princess is not in your home, jewels or gown, it’s in your ability to help people and offer what you have to those in need. It’s about relating to everyone, being willing to have compassion for all and taking initiative to make things better in your life and the lives of those around you.
Rapunzel- Never stop dreaming, never lose your sense of wonder or your passion for adventure. Don’t ever settle for an empty life and always, always defy oppression. Be brave, protect yourself, don’t live in fear and be willing to confidently step out into the world and discover who you truly are. Your worth is not just in your assets, be it beauty, your hair, figure or even your skills. Your worth and measure of character lies within what you are willing to do in the face of evil for those you love.
Tiana- Sometimes we think we know the way, we see a clear path to our desire and we steamroll toward it with blinders on our whole lives, thinking that goal is all we ever need, we can get it ourselves and once we have that one thing, everything else in our lives will be complete. What we often learn however, is that what we want and what we need, are often two very different things and we cannot be all that we are destined to become until we are willing to take the blinders off, remain open to the bumps in the road and take a fork every now and again. Be brave enough to show weakness, be strong enough to ask for help and know that your future isn’t always just a clear road with a single, one-way ticket, but sometimes takes a whole army of loved ones to travel with you, fight beside you and give you their hands, their strength and their contributions to make your dreams come true. It doesn’t make your dream any less your own, to build it with others. Not everything has to be done alone.
Pocohontas- Enormous physical and emotional strength, ability to join two nations in peace, avert war with her passion and intellect and saved her people from annihilation. Sometimes doing the right thing means doing something no one likes. Having the courage to do it anyway is what makes us strong.
Merida- Willing to accept a lesson with grace, take responsibility for her actions and move forward toward her responsibilities with her own heart and mind at the forefront, while also being able to see that life is more than just about what SHE wants. Life is about doing honor to the clan and this cannot begin until you do honor to the Self through hard work, sacrifice and a willingness to do the right thing, not just what feels best.
Princess Ada- Taking on positions of power is scary and it’s easy to want to blame others when things go wrong. It’s only through compassion and opening your eyes to the truth that you see we all depend on each other in this world. We must always do what we can to help the whole, not just ourselves. Taking risks and being willing to look opposition in the eye with strength shows character. Being willing to allow others to help you when you need it most makes you strong- not by proving you can do it all alone.
Mulan- Bravery beyond that of most women in her position, she does the unthinkable and pretends to be a boy to honor her father and keep her family and her country safe. She fights, she learns, she never backs down. True feminine strength is in our power to love and to fight for that which we love. Being unique isn’t always a bad thing- it’s how we choose to handle that uniqueness that matters. You can either bottle it up and pretend you’re just like everyone else, or you can join the army and save your country. Your choice.
See, those who only see a bunch of twitterpated, hair-flinging, lovesick girls with nothing but air in their brains, traveling mindlessly toward a man are seeing a VERY different world from the one I see, the one I believe is the true intention of these tales.
Princesses are strong. They are kind, loving, forgiving, compassionate, passionate, intelligent, proud, hard working, selfless, giving, resourceful and powerful. They fight against evil, they love with abandon, they demand recognition for what they believe in and they passionately go toward their dreams, unashamed and unapologetic. They teach our girls to go after their dreams confidently and to always maintain their grace, their loving hearts and their passion for living, even in the face of evil and all adversity. A princess must be all of those things and more and I believe any young girl who wants to stand bravely along side any of these icons gets it. It’s not just the hair, the dress or the crown. It’s not just talking to animals and finding true love. It’s loving the Self and being brave enough to love others and do the right thing against all odds.
Everything about Disney princesses are qualities I would be proud to see in my daughter.
It’s okay to be a princess.
Are you brave enough?