Dad calls me his princess. Mom thinks this has gone to my head. One of my dearest friends once a whined, “why am I not a princess?!” (She had just watched the royal wedding). I ran the princess half marathon.
What’s up with our princess thing? I recently took an internet quiz to find out how much of a Disney princess I was. I scored somewhere in the middle. This didn’t surprise me. But it did spark a conversation with two friends about our favorite princesses. You see, even though I am an adult and even though I would like to think I am not that girly, I love animated chick centered movies. I love most animated movies really. But guess what, my favorite female characters aren’t princesses. Mulan, Meg, and Princess Tiger Lily…even though it’s in her name she doesn’t count as an official princess.
Mulan is amazing. She has both parents (major deviation), who seem to be pretty decent, and they don’t even get killed off. Her grandma is a spitfire. Remember the part: “Do you want to stay for dinner?” “Do you want to stay forever?” There are a few songs from the movie I will belt out shamelessly, yeah total non sequitur. She saves her country. She doesn’t have magic or need a man (she likes a man, but they end up working together more than she depends on him to save her). She defies everyone and stands up to gender restrictions (as best she can) to do what she believes is right. She is the best. But she is not a princess.
Meg. I mean come on folks, any woman who says, “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day.” is worth admiring. She also has a few songs I belt out with regularity (in fact it might be part of my running mix, my pre-date getting ready mix, really every mix). Meg doesn’t have a family. She makes a series of poor decisions, but hey, she can handle it. She reluctantly falls in love with a demigod. Let’s skip the whole part of the actual mythology where Hercules ends up killing her. The movie Meg has spunk, she is a well created character, especially considering she isn’t that well-developed in mythology. Meg may not be the perfect example of healthy attachment, she has her guard way up, but eventually she is willing to let Herc into her life. I think she is great, she ties her own sandals and everything.
Princess Tiger Lily. I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched Peter Pan. And I don’t even remember if she has a single line in the whole movie. But what I do remember is the way she stood there with her chin in the air, in a brave and defiant posture. And the way she danced, she was really dancing, not just flitting around. Those two postures stick out for me. I’ve always liked her.
Bravery. Confidence. The ability to stand on her own two feet. No magical powers of her own. No wimpy distress for a man. In fact they are all willing to make sacrifices for their friends and/or family not to just be a damsel in distress. They are regular bad ass gals.
These are the ladies I like best. But they don’t “count” as princesses. I guess this shouldn’t really matter, but it makes me mad. Sure, there are other things about the “real princesses” that I like, Belle is an avid reader, Ariel has beautiful curiosity, but there are a lot of things about them that make me cringe, helplessness, making absurd sacrifices for guys (yeah I am talking about you Ariel and Pocahontas), and the like. Sure there are some newer princesses that are okay. I guess my bigger issue is with the whole “princess thing.” Sure it is fun to play and imagine. I have no qualms with Dad calling me his princess, nor with girls who make-believe or even wish they were princesses. It does seem to have some perks, and hey we all want to be special. But why do the princesses we offer as models have to be so…well…lame?