When Disney announced its first African American princess I was overwhelmed with excitement! To my dismay there were people who complained that Princess Tiana remains a frog for the majority of the movie. I’ll admit that when I first saw the movie I was initially disappointed, but by the end of the movie, I had fallen so in love with Princess Tiana’s character that her physical embodiment as a frog became an afterthought. I loved her drive, her passion and her desire to fulfill her dreams. There's something endearing and inspiring about her character. Princess Tiana has all the traits that any young girl should aspire to have and she epitomizes the true definition of royalty.
Not the traditional Disney princess or damsel in distress waiting on someone to save her, Princess Tiana is a special princess and an underrated gem in the legacy of Disney princesses. The subtle messages of strength, perseverance, drive, determination and passion are messages of hope embedded within the movie. I even find a lot of my own traits in the character of Princess Tiana. Sometimes I feel like I am Princess Tiana in the flesh because I can relate to her journey. There are a lot of moments that bring clarity and I believe that we can all take away important life lessons from Princess Tiana.
1. Wishing on a star is a nice sentiment but hard work is what makes your dreams come true!
Princess Tiana has a dream and she works hard to make it come true. She has the passion and drive to make her dreams a reality. She possesses a fierce work-ethic and has a plan of action. She sings: “I remember daddy told me fairytales do come true, you gotta make it happen it all depends on you!” Your destiny is written in the stars but it's up to you to make your dreams come true! That’s the fairytale of life — when you put in the work to make your dreams a reality.
2. Sometimes you don’t get what you wished for in the way that you expect it.
When Princess Tiana wishes on a star, she's initially disappointed when she encounters the frog. Her wish is to open her own restaurant but instead a frog appears immediately after she makes her wish. However, it is THAT frog that ends up taking her on a journey which led her to her dreams. Not only does her wish come true, but she also discovers herself in the process. The result is a fulfilled dream and a companion to share her dreams with!
3. The Prince doesn’t always have to save the Princess!
What I love about Princess Tiana is that she isn't waiting on true love to “save her” or to make her dreams a reality. Tiana's aspirations aren't simply to be married, saved or rescued by anyone. The other Disney princesses wait on a prince to save them from a sleeping curse, or a bad family environment — thus they have no desires, no dreams, no aspirations other than being married. Princess Tiana already possesses the drive, work-ethic and motivation to save herself. Meeting her prince is by happenstance not out of necessity to fulfill an unmet need or desire. She doesn't have to be saved, but she finds someone who she can genuinely love and without having to rely on him to save her.
4. Everything that you need you already have within you!
In the journey to become human again, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen encounter Mama Odie and she drops these pearls of wisdom: “When you find out who you are you find out what you need.” Everything that you need is already within you. Sometimes you have to search within yourself to find the answers. Dig a little deeper!
5. The journey of self discovery happens when we take the focus off our physical appearance and start to look inward.
Princess Tiana’s transformation into a frog is by happenstance. Out of desperation to make her dreams come true, she kisses a frog, but her journey to finding her dreams, even while she is a frog, is a teachable moment. Regardless of image or the perceived image that we have of ourselves, it is how we develop our inner spirits that leads us to our destiny. Who cares about your outward appearance? What does your soul look like? What is the condition of your heart? How is your character? What are your morals and values? How do you perceive yourself when the mask comes off and you look in the mirror passed the physical into the spiritual? Looks are not important. Beauty fades but who we are on the inside is what really counts.
6. You find love when you dedicate yourself to your passion. It comes when you least expect it.
Love just happens. It finds you! Princess Tiana finds love while she is pursuing her passion. She's not looking for it but she's so dedicated to her passion that love just happens. The message of working hard to fulfill your own dreams and finding someone to love you while you have your own thing going is a great message for any woman who has the desire to be in a healthy and fulfilled relationship. When she finds love, it isn't something that completes her, it's something that enhances her! I love that!
7. Hold on because you’re almost there!
Sometimes the road to our destiny is long. People may discourage you. You may start to doubt yourself. You probably have even contemplated giving up. What I love about the message in "The Princess and the Frog" is the theme song by Princess Tiana. "Almost There" is an inspiring song that tells you not to give up! Some of my favorite lyrics from the song are: “I know exactly where I’m going, I’m getting closer and closer everyday!” and “trials and tribulations I’ve had my share but there ain’t nothing going to stop me now because I'm almost there!”
Keep going and don't give up and if you encounter a few frogs in your life. Embrace the lesson and learn from the journey!