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The seven most self-empowered Disney princesses

People love Disney princesses, and with the focus on female empowerment becoming prevalent over the past decade, here’s our list of the most empowered princesses.

Jeevana Kalaithasan
Jeevana Kalaithasan

Obsessed with chocolate, TikTok and baking.


Published: 24 March 2021, 11:29 AM

Disney Princesses have been a big part of many of our childhoods. To some, they’re merely cartoon characters. But to others, they are a representation of girl power. 

From the first princess, Snow White, to the latest, Raya, we can see how much society’s expectation of women has grown and changed. 

Over the years, Disney Princesses have become more independent and empowered – just look at how they see their self-worth, the control they have over their own lives and their ability to influence social change.

Here’s our list of the top seven most self-empowered Disney princesses.

7. Belle

The female protagonist in the film Beauty and the Beast stands out from the rest in her village. 

Belle is self-less, she puts others before herself and tries to see the good in everyone. She also does what she wants no matter what people say. Gaston, the town’s most eligible bachelor, wants to marry Belle, but she rejects him because she thinks he is snobbish, narcissistic, and arrogant. This shows that Belle gives importance to what someone is like on the inside more than the outside. 

Belle is also the only girl in the village who can read, as girls in her provincial town don’t go to school. 

 

Belle is a character who longs for adventure, and lives vicariously through the books she reads. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

Belle makes it into this list of the most self-empowered Disney princesses as she does not care what others think of her and does what she loves. When her father is captured by the Beast, she’s selfless and does not hesitate to give herself up to save him. 

What makes her number seven on the list though is that she falls in love with her captor – the Beast who had imprisoned her and her father and verbally abused them. 

All the Beast had to do was show her an ounce of kindness and she falls for him? This is definitely an unhealthy message for young children. 

6. Jasmine

Jasmine is not the typical damsel-in-distress type princess. Her having a tiger as a pet already says so much about her.

But although Jasmine is a spirited princess, she is confined to her palace in Agrabah. The outdated law stipulates that the princess must marry a prince by her 16th birthday. Jasmine, however, wants to fall in love. 

 

Jasmine, the Princess of Agrabah, is modern in her views of what girls can do and fights for what she believes is right. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

Jasmine shows a lot of feminist potential. She defies marriage laws and arranged marriages, and is also responsible for making a change in the way her kingdom viewed marriage.  

If she witnessed injustice, she fought against it. She sought change and made it happen. 

Jasmine also knew her self-worth, she knew she had more to her than to just get married. That’s why she’s number six on this list.

5. Tiana

Like Belle, Tiana was not born into royalty. 

She starts as a waitress who aspires to own her restaurant one day. She works two jobs to raise sufficient money to turn a run-down mill into her dream restaurant, to fulfil the promise she made to her late father.

Tiana is hard-working and does not give up on her dreams. She even rejects Prince Naveen’s proposal so she can fulfil her dream. 

 

Tiana is the first African-American princess, serving as a representative for many girls of African descent around the world. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

Tiana makes it into this list because of her driven, diligent and persevering nature, she does what she wants and does not give up on her dreams for a man.

4. Merida

This Scottish princess defies everything that a traditional princess in her village should be like. 

Elinor, her mother, wants her to be the perfect princess, however, Merida’s the exact opposite – riding on her horse and practising archery and swordplay. 

She does not want to get married but the other clan lords present their sons to Merida as suitors for her hand in marriage. She then challenges them to archery to win her freedom. 

 

Unlike the other princesses so far, Merida is the first Disney princess to be created by Pixar. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

Merida is an excellent role model for children who want to follow their hearts and accomplish what they want to do. She’s not vain or a damsel in distress, which is why she comes in fourth place.

3. Moana

After the plants and fish on her island start dying, Moana has to embark on a journey to save her island. She seeks out Maui, the demigod, to help undo the mistake he made centuries ago. 

Moana teaches young girls that they don’t need a man to solve their problems. She gives her all in saving her home and sets off by herself.

 

Moana is the first Polynesian Disney princess, however, in the film, she is seen as more of the daughter of the chief. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

In a departure from usual Disney tropes, her relationship with Maui is strictly business. She does not think of any romantic possibilities, proving that men and women can be just friends. 

Moana stands firm in her own beliefs, and is a brave and good leader. She puts her people first and does what is right, sailing beyond the reef without prior knowledge on how to sail, and leading her people like the hero she is.

2. Raya

Coming in number two on the list of the most self-empowered Disney princesses is Raya. Available on Disney+, this is Disney’s latest animated princess film.

 

Raya’s kingdom, Kumandra, is a mixture of Southeast Asian countries like Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and more. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

This Southeast-Asian warrior is no ordinary princess. 

After losing her father to the shadowy monsters called Druun, she sets out on a quest to save him and reunite the kingdom. She travels to different ends of her kingdom, Kumandra, in search of the last dragon, Sisu, who is the only one who can help her complete the quest. 

Raya is independent, goal-oriented and tenacious. She is heroic and her story does not involve any romance, proving to young girls that they can be heroes without being solely associated with love. 

This is why Raya is the second most self-empowered princess. 

1. Mulan

Mulan is the epitome of empowerment. 

To save her ill father, she joins the army after disguising herself as a man. She starts as one of the weaker recruits, but, with practice, she gets better. However, the male soldiers soon discover that she is not a man and abandon her. 

But by the end of the film, Mulan is the one who saves the nation. 

 

Mulan is based on an original legend that is more than 1,500 years old. PHOTO CREDITS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

 

Mulan shows people why women should never be underestimated. She does not conform to patriarchal expectations and does what she needs and wants to, making her the most self-empowered princess. 

With Disney evolving to better portray girl power and being more inclusive to people of colour, we are excited to see what awaits for the future of Disney princesses.


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