Disney is the most powerful and prominent company in the animation industry. Their movies have captured our imagination since we were children. But Disney faced issues regarding how women were portrayed in their films. Always lost, too scared, naïve or hopelessly in love, Disney women used to portray that which our society now strongly voices out against. And ever since these concerns were raised, Disney has made it a point to create movies which show women as or more powerful than their men counterparts. Here’s a list of the most powerful Female Disney characters till date:
6. Elsa (Frozen, 2013–)
Talk about might and magic! Elsa, the elder of two princesses, has the ability to manipulate snow and ice. In a freak accident, she harms her younger sister (Anna) and spends the rest of her youth suppressing her emotions and powers. Frozen goes on to portray the love between two sisters and how the key to life itself is love. Elsa is a repressed child who grows up to be wild, adventurous and unruly (I’m beginning to see a pattern here).
But Elsa sacrifices everything in order to be there for her sister and it is her love for her sister which eventually brings a halt to the unstoppable blizzard. Frozen is a wonderfully woven tale of love between two sisters and went on to become a box office giant, making over 1.3 billion dollars worldwide (only the fifth movie in history to do so) and becoming the highest grossing animated movie and Disney movie of all time (even overtaking Toy Story). A step in the right direction, Disney has created a movie which truly shows the power of women and love and that’s why Elsa takes the No. 1 spot on my list.
5. Mulan (Mulan, 1998–)
Mulan isn’t a princess, technically, but I had to get her in here because she was the most prolific female Disney icon until 2013. Born to a simple family, Mulan dresses up as a boy in order to fight for the Chinese army when she realizes her elderly father might have to do battle once again. She learns the art of being both a boy and a warrior and even attempts to warn her King of an impending threat, which he refuses to heed and eventually gets captured.
Mulan and her friends eventually rescue the King, who deems her worthy of the throne, but she turns down the throne to live humbly with her family. As noble as she is courageous, Mulan displays talent in the art of being a warrior, thus silencing all nay-sayers and proving that men and women are equal. Her dedication and love for her family is unheard of (as you can see, most princesses want to just run away from their over-protective families) and that’s what made her so unique.
4. Rapunzel (Tangled, 2010–)
Is it just me or do all princesses have to be held captive just to prove their might through a series of emotionally challenging decisions? Because just like the other princesses, Rapunzel finds herself locked up in some way or another. Kidnapped after child birth when an evil lady named Gothel finds out that her hair has the same healing property as one of her flowers, Rapunzel is held captive in a tower for 18 years.
When the protagonist Eugene Flynn steals the crown, he stumbles upon her tower in an attempt to escape. Blackmailing him into freeing her, Rapunzel escapes with Eugene. But Gothel tracks them down and imprisons her again. With the help of Eugene, they kill Gothel and escape happily ever after. Much like the other princesses, Rapunzel is stubborn and curious. She also refuses to believe her life revolves around the tower and is even brave (naïve) enough to trust a random thief. Kids, please don’t try this at home.
3. Ariel (The Little Mermaid, 1989–)
When you’re the youngest of 7 princesses, you’re bound to be everything Ariel is. Born to King Triton and Queen Athena of Atlantica, she’s curious and rebellious. Often intrigued by the human world, she disobeys her father’s orders and often tries to interact with humans. In the movie, she’s shown as willing to do anything to be with Prince Eric (a human prince), even giving up her voice so she can be human.
Guided by her two best friends Flounder and Sebastian, she gives in to her curiosity, which often lands her in trouble. But Ariel is the incarnation of a true restless princess who looks beyond her royalty to try and help others. Again, she was one of the earliest characters to display such remarkable qualities.
2. Snow White (Snow White, 1937–)
Snow White is a tale of tragic loss and deep rooted jealousy. Snow White is banished and poisoned into an eternal slumber when her beauty obsessed step mother, the Queen, comes to know that her step-daughter is more beautiful than herself. Her faithful friends, the seven dwarves, hunt down the Queen and kill her and as luck would have it, a Prince delivers the ‘kiss of freedom’ and awakens Snow White from her sleep.
Snow White is portrayed as a gentle and loving soul who forgave her step-mother, in-spite of everything she had done to her. She is also steeled with patience (you have to be when you’re forced into an eternal slumber) and shows that violence is not the key. In the end, ‘all’s well that ends well’.
1. Jasmine (Aladdin, 1992–)
Forced to confinement within the 4 walls that kept her safe, Jasmine refused to lead her life under constant supervision. She snuck out of her castle and fatefully bumped into Aladdin, who saves her life. Jasmine, who had rejected several princes, falls in love with the “street rat” Aladdin who helps her discover a life beyond her castle walls.
Although the story mainly revolves around Aladdin, this was one of the first Disney movies which portrayed women in a more strong and powerful light. Jasmine is stubborn, brave and won’t sit by while the world revolves around her. The mark of a true female icon.