Saturday, March 17, 2012

Strong Females: They Aren’t Merely Pretty Princesses

        This weekend, I got home for spring break just in time for my younger brother’s school musical. Watching a bunch of fifth and sixth graders trying to sing and act is not my favorite pastime. This year, the kids were performing a shortened (to my relief) version of Beauty and the Beast.

As I sat and watched them prance around stage, I couldn’t help thinking about all the grief Disney princesses get today. Sure, their stories are usually centered on a damsel in distress, trying to find her true love or something, but they also center on female characters who have strong, honorable personalities. Take Belle, for example. She sacrifices herself for her old, sick father. She loves to read, she is caring and kind, and she knows the difference between right and wrong. Instead of falling for Gaston like the other girls in her village, she looks past his handsome features to see the true evil inside. She falls in love with the Beast because she sees his kindness. Belle is actually a really intelligent, honorable character that young girls should look up to.

Young girls shouldn’t aspire to be thin or beautiful, and I know that Disney princesses are usually thought to be role models of such traits. However, I believe that they can be much more. Other princesses, in addition to Belle, are strong female characters that young girls should see as role models. Mulan, Ariel, Jasmine, and Pocahontas are all intelligent, kind, and overall good-natured characters who fight for what they believe in and prove their strength throughout their stories. Sure, Ariel wants to become a human to marry the prince, but she does manage to trap a shark. Overall, these princesses are great role models for young girls.

While reading the Hunger Games, I see many of these characteristics in Katniss. She is intelligent, strong, and has a kind heart. Of course, she is a much stronger survivor than any Disney princess, but she serves as an equal role model for young teens. I may just be mixing up the events of my spring break thus far (not very eventful…seeing an elementary school production of Beauty and the Beast and reading the Hunger Games on the bus ride home), but I believe that along with superheroines, there are female role models for both kid and teen girls. Whether they are Disney princesses, fierce fighters from the future, or an Amazonian warrior princess, strong female characters do exist in fiction and media, and are becoming more and more prevalent.


  1. I fully support your championing of Belle as a role model. Upon rewatching The Beauty and the Beast recently I too marveled at what a good character she was. Also, I think that she didn't just see the kindness in the Beast, but actually inspired it through not only her looks, but her actions. Belle doesn't share the foolishness of several of the other Disney Princesses, such as Ariel (no matter how catchy her songs are) wanting to drastically change herself and sacrifice her voice just to be with a man.

  2. I, too, completely agree with this post. Belle has an admirable thirst for knowledge that cannot be stopped despite what her townspeople say or think about her. Her desire to read books and gain new perspectives is often mocked by the townspeople, who call her "strange, dazed, and distracted". Belle yearns to break free from the "provincial" life and desires to seek opportunities outside of it.

    Katniss shares this quality of going against what is socially expected of her gender. Instead of using herbs to heal others, which is considered female gender typed, Katniss is proactive and goes out to hunt for food. Both Katniss and Belle are great examples of superheroines because they refuse to be limited by their societal gender typing. They act how they want and are completely happy with it.


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