The whole point of Disney movies, and most kids shows, books, movies etc, is to teach some kind of moral lesson, like be kind, tell the truth, don’t talk to stranger.
Time and time again I see the Disney princesses being dismissed, or at least the earlier princesses, being dismissed as weak little girls who needed a man to save them, which completely ignores their entire narrative – and (once again) denotes women in media to one-dimensional characters and looks at these movies through a narrow lens when their stories are much more than that. So, I decided to compile a list of life lessons from Disney Princess.
Please note that if I didn’t mention your favourite Princess it doesn’t mean I don’t like her of her story. I couldn’t possibly fit them all in!
Life Lessons From Disney Princesses
1. Work Hard, But Still Dream – Tiana
Tiana is one of my favourite Disney Princesses and one of the most important life lessons from Disney. It’s a shame that the Princess And The Frog isn’t as popular as it deserves to be, and was definitely disappointing that the first Black princess was a frog for almost the whole movie!
It was also the last film in the old animation style, and I prefer the old animation!
However, when I watched it I just fell in love with her! What I love about Tiana is that she has a dream; she wants to own her own restaurant and she had no intention of sitting around and just waiting for it to fall out of the sky. She had a dream but she made it happen herself.
2. Rise Above What Is Expected Of You – Mulan
The reason Mulan joined the army was because she wanted to save her elderly father who would probably not survive the war, but even before that, she struggled with not fitting in, and not being the daughter her family had hoped for.
Then when she joined the army she struggled with being a solider too but she kept going, saved China and made her family proud. The takeaway, for me, from Mulan was to keep going and prove everyone who doubted you wrong.
3. It’s Okay To Walk Away – Elsa
*SPOILER ALERT FOR FROZEN 2*
While Belle might be my favourite Disney princess since childhood, I find myself relating a little bit too hard to Elsa.
Elsa becomes queen in the first Frozen movie but never seemed super happy about it and that’s confirmed even more so in Frozen 2. In the end, she decides to leave Arendale and make Anna queen instead who is much more content in the role. What the Disney life lesson from Elsa is that if you’re life is going in a direction you don’t feel is right for you, you can change it!
4. True Love Is Where You Least Expect It – Anna
Hans’ reveal was one of the biggest plot twists in a Disney film! While Anna was out looking for Elsa, and still beleived Hans was the one, she ended up finding her true love where she least expected it.
It’s not good to sit around and wait for your Prince Charming to swoop in; life your life. Love pops up in the most unexpected places.
5. Be Kind – Cinderella
Cinderella was (along with Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White) one of the Disney Princess most commonly criticized for being a damsel in distress, but I think that views her through a very narrow lens.
As a little girl, I didn’t even like Cinderella and the other princess for that reason. I never wanted to be saved, I wanted to be the hero, I never wanted to marry a prince; I wanted to be the queen, but Cinderella comes with her own life lessons too that are just as important as the other Disney Princesses.
Yes, she did have a horrible life before Prince Phillip found her but that doesn’t make her a total dud. She was treated with cruelty every day but was still kind to others and her animal friends, despite pretty much having every right to be bitter. In the sequel in particular she’s kind and helpful towards her step-sister, who has also come along way.
So, for that, this Disney princess life lesson is still valid.
6. Be Yourself – Merida
I love Merida but please please please stop saying she’s Irish. Brave is set in Scotland, Merida is Scottish. Ireland is not in the UK. Ireland and Scotland are not the same country or “basically the same country.” Thanks, rant over.
Merida is honestly just as stubborn as I am, and I love that Disney made a princess for the tomboys like I was as a kid! She competes for her own hand in marriage and routinely butts heads with her mother for being unladylike.
A trope I absolutely hate is the tom boy getting a makeover and being “beautiful,” the goth ending the film dressed like everyone else (I’m looking at you The Breakfast Club). I love that Disney left Merida finish the film just as unruly as before – but on better terms with her mother.
7. Make Your Own Decisions – Jasmine
As far as Disney couples go I think that Jasmine and Alladin are my favourite because they actually got to know each other and have good chemistry.
Jasmine fell for Alladin as a “street rat,” while she wanted a day of freedom outside of the palace. When her father was trying to marry her off, she was very quick to intervene and make it clear that she would not be offered up like some trophy.
8. Stand Your Ground – Belle
Belle is my favourite Disney princess. A lot of little girls favourite Princess is mostly based on which one they look the most like and that was Belle because I had the same colour hair (yes, my hair isn’t actually naturally black) and eyes, but she wore my favourite colour dress (yellow) and was a bookworm!
However, what I grew to love about Belle is that she was strong and smart without becoming one of the boys. She has no problem standing up for herself against the Beast, she saves her father, and turns down Gaston several times.
A lot of “strong smart women” in media lose their femineity and I like that Belle still got to dance at a ball, marry a prince, and wear a dress and still be the strong independent intelligent girl we saw at the start of the movie.
9. Do No Harm, Take Not Shit – Pocahontas
The real life story of Pocahontas is much more grim than the Disney film but I think she’s a very underrated princess.
Pocahontas respects everything and everyone around her. She threads on the earth without harming it, or thinking she’s above anyone – which is in stark contrast to John Smith and the other “pilgrims” but let’s be real, colonizers, and she’s right to call him out on his attitude.
10. Trust Your Intuition – Moana
The life lesson from Moana was to trust your intuition. She knew as a little girl that she wanted to be on the ocean, and was pulled away from it. Although she eventually did become somewhat settled with island life she never fully let it go, and it was that drive that saved her people in the end.
What do you think of these life lessons from Disney Princesses? Do you agree with them? Who’s your favourite Princess?