COLUMN: 'Brave' and the evolution of Disney princesses
Disney/Pixar’s new film, “Brave,” is preparing to hit theaters this weekend, and with it comes a new Disney princess named Merida.
Although Disney has a history of making films about princesses, this is the first film to have a female protagonist — and Merida appears to be different from all the past princesses.
Many young girls who have seen Disney movies were undoubtedly influenced by them. The princesses were glamorous and beautiful, so of course young girls would want to be like them. But were they really the best role models for young girls?
Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are not very active characters. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have no other option than to wait for their prince to come and save them as they are unconscious and can only be awakened with true love’s kiss.
Cinderella, too, is saved from her dismal life when a charming prince falls in love with her.
As another wave of Disney princess films were released in the 1990s, the princesses evolved slightly from the less active originals and gained some independence.
This era of princesses brought a new group of role models for young girls to look up to. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan gave Disney princesses a more active role within their own films — although you cannot forget their non-princess counterparts, Meg and Esmerelda. They were smarter, tougher and they did not spend the entire movie asleep or cleaning.
However, the films were still greatly focused on these princesses falling in love with a charming and heroic man. So young girls are still seeing the message that finding a man is incredibly important to achieving happiness in life.
In 2009 and 2010, Disney introduced two new princesses that had their own dreams and desires that really didn’t involve meeting a prince at all.
Tiana and Rapunzel are not actively seeking a chance to fall in love with a handsome prince, although they both do meet a man while trying to achieve their own dreams. Both of their films end happily, and the characters achieve their dreams and meet a charming man.
Disney movies used to focus on a princess meeting her charming prince, but as gender roles have evolved, so has their representation in film.
Now, there might finally be a princess movie that does not involve the princess finding true love.
It appears that princess Merida will be a feisty and, of course, incredibly brave character who will fight for herself and do exactly whatever she wishes. She might be a great role model for young girls as she shows that princesses can be tough — and finding a husband isn't the most important part of life.
It appears that Disney is finally realizing that girls need role models who are tough and adventurous.
Hopefully Merida is only the beginning of a wave of strong independent young women for the girls of this generation to look up to.
Sarah Wilson is an English literature junior.