Halloween is quickly approaching and now’s the time for buying costumes. I’m starting to see the usual articles and comment about why you should not choose Disney princess costumes for your girls. How you instead should choose costumes portraying “strong females” or historical female icons. Okay, I get the whole real female role models are great choices over imaginary ones. But I was really put off when I saw a certain book promoting costume ideas with the tag line: “When your daughter is too ambitious to be a princess.”
If their purpose was to break stereotypes about women, the best way to do that wasn’t to basically belittle other girls or women who want to be a princess. That doesn’t strengthen their platform of strength and girl power, it just puts other girls down to raise themselves up. Personally, I believe that women can be whatever they want to be and we should be supportive of each other. If your message is that princesses aren’t ambitious or aren’t good role models, then we need to talk.
Disney has been very pro-active in presenting a new type of princess for a new era. Even having their “Dream Big Princess” campaign focusing on strong women who do amazing things. Because being a Disney princess for Halloween is the opposite of lacking ambition. Let’s take a look at some of the latest Disney princesses shall we.
Let’s start with Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. Belle is well read and dreams of doing more with her life than being the wife to a narcissistic buffoon. When her father is taken prisoner, she hops on the horse, rushes to where he is, and takes his place. She’s strong willed, smart, and determined. I wouldn’t classify her as a weak female character with no ambition.
Again, a female character that doesn’t want to just be a “perfect bride” because it isn’t who she is. When her elderly father is called to war, she pretends to be his son and takes his place. She not only keeps with the other men, she saved China, after they all basically turned their backs on her. Of course they realize she’s right and helps her in the end, but initially they shunned her for being a strong woman who did what needed to be done to save her father. But again, she’s just a “Disney princess” and isn’t someone that girls should really look up to.
Tiana from The Princess and the Frog is a perfect example of a strong woman working for what she wants. She has a dream to open her own restaurant and she works very hard to earn the money to do so. Even in the end, she pays for it herself and even enlists her Prince Naveen to help her renovate the place. How is she not a good example of ambitions, perseverance, and strength?
Merida from the film Brave. Now here’s a character that just screams “strong female.” Raised to be strong by her father, she’s then forced by her mother to be placed up for marriage. What does any “weak female character” do in that situation? Shoot for her own hand of course! She wins too, beating out all the men wanting to “win” her. Brave even goes a step further, taking Merdia’s mother, who’s very “traditional” and pro arranged marriage, and helping her change and become more open minded and free. That’s a two-fer on strong female characters there.
Elsa and Anna
Elsa and Anna from Frozen. This is a love story. Yes, the film does have some traditional romantic elements, but the true love story is one of sisters. Elsa is a woman who’s been hiding who she truly is her entire life and Anna is brave and courageously goes to get her back. In the end they are closer, Elsa can finally be who she truly is and Anna gets the sister bond she’s desperately wanted. Again, whatever “weaknesses” the characters began with they overcame through strength, character, and courage. All things I want my daughter to understand.
You want to talk about ambition let’s talk about Moana. She steals a boat to go find a demigod and save all her people and Te Fiti herself. She convinced Maui he’s more than what he believes. She frees her people to a life back on the water and she saves Te Fiti and the ocean, and she does this all with a chicken in tow. If that isn’t an example of girl power and determination, I don’t know what is.
Princess Leia / General Organa
Princess Leia is technically a Disney princess now. She has always been a strong and amazing female character. She was the only female among a crew of strong males and she held her own! Fast forward to the new film and she is a General leading the Resistance.
Some argue that when she was Princess Leia she wasn’t as good of a female role model as she was when she was General Organa. I beg to differ. She was caught smuggling plans for the Death Star, and then she took over her own rescue. She killed Jabba the Hutt for making her a “slave” and wearing that ridiculous get-up. She grabbed a speeder bike and took off after an escaping storm trooper, she befriended the Ewoks who then helped them win the battle of Endor, and she got shot trying to help take the shield generator down. Yeah, but she liked Han and wore “those” outfits. So what? She still was an amazing example of girl-power, quick thinking and ingenuity.
I could go on and on about strong female Disney princesses… Rapunzel, Pocahontas, Sophia the First, Elena of Avalor, and more. Beyond princesses the Descendants characters did what was right and not what was easy. I think Disney has been giving us quite a few strong female characters to look up to. But at the end of the day just dress up as whatever you want. Be a male character, be Batman, be Darth Vader, be whatever you relate to! As far as which “girl” costume you or your daughter should wear to embody adventure, strength, courage, determination, etc., there are so many amazing females and characters to look up to, and being a famous female scientist is awesome, but so is being a princess.
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