Friday, August 2, 2013

I'll Take the 3 Brown Feminist Disney Princesses Who Understand White Privilege

Act #214:  Who you callin' "princess"?

Fine.  I get it.  No matter how I try, Disney princesses are never going anywhere.  Our girls will continue to grow up bombarded with toys, movies, bedtime stories, and clothes that glamorize external beauty and poor body image, slightly attempt to promote the wild, adventurous spirit of young adolescent females, but only to find their ultimate fulfillment via the rescue (or true love) of a man.  Fine.  If you want to shove princesses down my throat, at least I'm going to focus on the ones that are allowed to have a voice (and legs. See:  Little Mermaid), basic freedom from captivity (and not held unconscious in a glass box), and ones that understand, first-hand, the complex intersections of privilege, race, and class. BUT I'm going to more accurately describe them in non-royal terms.... because did you know that none of these women were really even princesses at all?   

The Peace-Activist Who Foiled a War
The daughter of a Native American chief, she is noble, free-spirited, and deeply connected to her land.  She is wise beyond her years and compassionate to those around her.  Drawing from a deep spiritual base, she successfully stops the execution of John Smith and convinces her father to cease the hostilities between her tribe and the invading British settlers.

The Cross-Dressing Warrior
The daughter of a warrior, she doesn't fit in with the expectations of young Chinese girls of her time.  She is brave, outspoken, and independent rather than graceful, silent and demure.   She impersonates a man and takes her father's place during a general conscription to counter an invasion.

The Fearless, Voodoo-fighting, Female Entrepreneur
A talented and ambitious African-American waitress in New Orleans, who works hard her whole life towards her dream of opening a restaurant.  She ultimately does, after being turned into a frog, and falling in love with a prince.  There's always a freakin' prince, but really, he was just arm candy.


1 comment:

  1. Friends of my parents were thrilled some years ago when Mulan came out, so they could have a Disney character for their (adopted) Chinese daughter to relate to visually; and yet, when the movie with Tiana came out, I couldn't help wondering what marketing motives were there.

    Then I decided it didn't matter, if it meant that Disney's array of characters was becoming more and more diverse.