Disney Gals- Spineless Damsels in Distress or Admirable Heroines With a Message?

Firstly, I must say this.  I LOVE Disney.  Lovelovelovelovelove.  I grew up surrounded by little but and I KNOW it influences my writing, and possibly even my behaviour.  I think all girls need to act a little princess-y from time to time, so it’s understandable that I get a little defensive when I hear someone referring to the new movie “Brave” and saying something like, “Oh, finally Disney has an independent hero who has healthy self-esteem and the ability to stand up for herself without needing a man.”

Whoa.  Now now, are we accusing the other gals of being little sissies dependant on big strong men to save them?  Hmmm.  What about Pocahontas?  I distinctly remember HER saving her man.  http://images2.fanpop.com/image/forum/64000/64712_1276624940393_full.jpg

Ooh, and what about Mulan?  She kicked BUTT.

And Megara?  She didn’t take crap from NO MAN.  (With the possible exception of the god of the underworld.)

These are all some seriously strong female roles, and I can list more.  But…

 

 

 

Not all the Disney chicks are like this.  Sleeping Beauty was the very definition of a helpless damsel in distress.http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs33/f/2008/300/5/6/Sleeping_Beauty_Tribute_by_nippy13.jpg

 

 

Cinderella NEVER stood up to anyone, she just took it.http://lauraestaceysofficialblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/cinderella_cleaning1.jpg?w=300&h=249

http://ilikeyummypie.webs.com/Snow-White-Pie.jpgSnow White, the first Disney princess needed rescue, and was also the “housewife” type, a figure many associate with some classic sexism.

Now what do I take from this?  I take that all Disney heroines, like all real women, are different.  Some women are soft sweetiepies who rely on other people when it gets to crunch time while others are a little more “rough around the edges” and resist help when offered.  And I think this is okay!

In literature, people lately seem to freak out whenever the “damsel in distress” character type appears.  Check this out.

http://lauraestaceysofficialblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/hermionevsbella.png?w=528&h=1056

So, the conclusion you’re supposed to make from this is that Hermione is a better character.  No!  She’s a different character.  Bella never claimed to be anything other than what she was, and I know most girls find it much easier to put themselves in her place.  And, in her defence, in a scene that was either taken out or very unclear and under-emphasized in the movie (I can’t remember), Bella actually tried to cut herself to draw the vampires away.  Certainly an act of bravery and taking control.  But besides the point.  (If you’re wondering, I do prefer Hermione, but that’s because I understand her on a personal basis, which happens when you have a bunch of different female leads.)

If the maker of the poster had his way, all female characters would adhere to the same “type”: not too desirable, prepared for everything, and with “good” tastes.  Would we not miss the ditsy girls who stupidly run to the top of the building in a horror movie?

When I think back to the Disney girls, I think they all had something to teach us, the strong and the “male dependant.”

Firstly, even the strong ones needed help sometimes, and showed a softer side and that teaches girls that it’s okay to have weaknesses.  Pocahontas has a clear message of kindness across all peoples, and Mulan teaches self-sacrifice and not adhering to only what others want you to be, and Meg sums up that even big girls need help sometimes.

  The sweeter girls, I think, often had even better messages.  Sure, Aurora’s abilities were beauty and song, a fact feminists will jump all over, but look at her personality.  She was a princess who, without even knowing it, accepted the life of a commoner, complete with doing work and wearing boring clothes.  I think this says something about humility and the idea of equality, that no one is ever to good for anything.  And Cinderella was the humility incarnate, as well, she showed some serious positive thinking.  Despite having to do never-ending chores for her cruel family, she never let it get to her and stayed ever-happy.  And why did everyone like Snow White?  She was so kind to everyone that ANIMALS liked her, a trait shared by all the previously mentioned princesses.  Feminist, Disney-girl-haters love to point out that all the girls got where they got by being pretty, but I think the men fell in love with them more because they were kind and sweet in demeanour.

  So, if you’re a girl looking for a Disney role model, try picking the one that works best for you.  I like Belle because she’s smart, book-y, and was so kind and patient that she could turn and abusive and angry beast into a kind and mannerly gentleman.  (A bit controversial, that last bit, as many say it’s impossible and leads women to never abandon abusive relationships, but again, that’s a different topic.)

The point is, let’s try to avoid limiting the variety of our characters, okay guys?  Me, I’d love to see a princess who LOVED being a princess, couldn’t stand wearing anything but a pretty dress, and wouldn’t get her hands dirty for all the gold in the kingdom.  She’s FAR less pretentious.  But that’s just me.

  P.S. This time, let’s try to not bombard me with comments like you have been and just assume I’m right, kay?  OR you could tell me which princess YOU empathize with the most and why.

P.P.S. Sorry about the crappy formatting; it’s been present throughout many of my posts.  I’m having HUGE troubles getting the pictures to do what I want, and I’m starting to give up, so long as I get my message across.

One thought on “Disney Gals- Spineless Damsels in Distress or Admirable Heroines With a Message?

  1. […] Source: Disney  /  via: lauraestaceysofficialblog.wordpress.com […]

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