Growing up with Disney is almost a given in any person's life in this day and age, and perhaps the most popular part of Disney (until perhaps recently) was, of course, the princesses. We all have our favorites and those that we perhaps don't like so much, but it is almost universally true that we have seen every single princess' movie at least once. With the new arrival of Disney+, I've decided to officially make a list of the princesses in order from favorite to least favorite.
Inspired by the Rank King, Eugene Yang's ranking of the princesses, this is my own personal ranking of the princesses.
Belle tends to fall low on the list for many due to the supposed "Stockholm Syndrome" she suffers. And it is a valid point if you don't look very closely. However, what many forget is that she chooses to stay with the Beast to save her father, and does not take any shit from the Beast. Rather, she challenges him, actually leaves at two points, and returns of her own free will both times - the first because, yes, she might feel obligated to help the guy who just saved her life, but the second because she genuinely cares at that point. And let's not forget: the Beast could only transform back into a man if he found true love, and love brought about by Stockholm Syndrome is not true. Besides this, as a young girl and now still, I identified with Belle quite a bit. She was a bookworm, a bit of an oddball in her village, very independent and headstrong. This didn't change with the Beast; in fact, the Beast changed with her for the better.
Mulan is a true warrior who goes against everything in order to fight for her family and save her father from certain death. She knows nothing of war or battle or even how to use a weapon when she chops her hair off and goes to fight the Huns; she is a girl in China during the Han dynasty and never would have been expected or even allowed to do such a thing. Which, of course, is why she does it herself. Mulan does what she thinks is right, and even when she's discovered, she returns to the city at the risk of her life to defeat the Huns in the final battle and help her people. She proves her strength among men as both a man and a woman, the latter being the most difficult thing she could have ever done.
Rapunzel was never waiting for a man to save her; she was dreaming of ways to see the floating lights long before Flynn Rider appeared in her tower. His sudden entrance into her life was an opportunity, one that she took immediately. She held her own in the world she had never stepped foot in before, actually saving Flynn more than once, long before he saves her. And really - did he save her? He came back to get her from Mother Gothel and was immediately stabbed. There is no doubting that he was willing to give his life for her; he didn't wait to cut her hair before she healed him. Perhaps it can be argued that they saved each other in that last scene, but the thing about Rapunzel is that she is far from helpless. Flynn was simply the chance she had been waiting for to leave her tower and achieve her goals.
Jasmine is the first princess I've mentioned that might have actually been looking for love in her journey. But that's what is special about her: she was looking for love. She refused to marry a man that she did not love, no matter how many suitors her father presented her with. She knows her place in society and has accepted that she has things she has to do, but she spends the whole story doing those things her way. And here's what we often forget: just because a girl is looking for love doesn't mean she is any weaker than another woman or any man. And her search for love comes alongside her wish to make her kingdom better, to eradicate the poverty that she knows is hidden from her in the streets outside her palace. Jasmine is strong-willed and that doesn't change with the arrival of Aladdin - rather, for the first time, there is a man who is totally awed by her strength and does nothing to diminish it.
Talk about a girl who wasn't looking for love or magic. Tiana had a dream, a goal, and was working her ass off to achieve it on her own. The princely frog who hops into her life was supposed to be a passing moment. She thought, "I'll change him back and send him on his way." And even after the kiss actually changes her into a frog, the impression you get from her is that this is just an unexpected bump in the road. She's going to become human again and keep working towards owning her own restaurant. The prince she falls for (as a frog, no less)? A bonus. She would've gotten her restaurant either way, it would have just taken her longer.
Like Jasmine, Merida had expectations of marriage and ruling her kingdom with a husband. Unlike Jasmine, she is having none of it. She does not want to find love, she does not want to meet a man. She wants to rule independently, something her mother can't understand. But when her mother is turned into a bear, Merida still does her best to help her because, despite their differences, they do love each other. All in all, Merida handles the situation quite well, and she and her mother learn how to understand each other a little bit more. Merida is a badass besides, something that can't be denied.
Admittedly, I've only seen Moana once and I don't remember much other than the basics, but there's something very powerful about the way she manages to return the heart of Te Fiti by sympathizing with her and making it past the tough, lava-coated exterior she has built. Moana herself has a kind heart and does nothing but spread that kindness as she journeys across the sea to restore the heart. She's encouraging to Maui, who has lost hope of regaining his own shapeshifting powers, even when he dismisses her at first and tries to steal her raft to escape his island. She doesn't give up, even at the worst of times, even when her grandmother's spirit appears and tells her that it's okay, that it's too much to expect of someone so young. And maybe that's the best part of all: Moana being told that it's okay to give up. That she has the choice. Just being given the choice is what tells her she can do what she set out to do.
The reason Pocahontas is so low is because I honestly don't remember much of the movie; the last time I saw it was a really long time ago, when I was way younger. But I remember enough to know that she's another kindhearted woman who will do what she has to in order to save her people, even if it means facing John Smith, her love's, own people. She defies her father in a way similar to Jasmine, though Pocahontas' father is less forgiving. She won't marry if there is no love, and in the end, she does what she believes to be best, and sends the man she does love away. She's strong, connected with nature in ways that most of us can't comprehend, and her story reminds us all that sometimes it doesn't work out the way we want it to, and that's okay.
The best part about Cinderella isn't her magical transformation or dance with the prince - it's the fact that she just wanted to go to a party and have a good time for once. She never intended to meet the prince, and when she does, she doesn't wait for him to come and rescue her after. She goes back to her life, with a fond memory, and when he appears again, of course she goes with him. But she wasn't looking for love, just for happiness, and I think that's a common misconception of her and most other princesses. The reason she ranks low for me is because I don't actually like the movie very much. Cinderella herself is a fine character, but the trope has been done over and over since then and I'm kind of over it.
I like Anna quite a bit, just not as much as some of the aforementioned princesses. She's far from a damsel in distress, but she's perhaps the closest so far; she never would have made it up the mountain without Kristoff, and when she's told only true love can save her, she thinks immediately of Hans, the man she believes she loves. Then, when Hans betrays her, she turns to Kristoff, and never even considers that the love she has for her sister would be enough. That said, she goes to find Elsa without question, not willing to leave her behind even though Elsa did that to her when they were kids. For the first time, she has proof of what Elsa is capable of, even feels the effects herself, and yet she still faces Hans in what she believes are her last moments to save her big sister. She shows incredible courage and confidence in the face of adversity.
Note: Elsa will not be included in this list because she is a queen, not a princess.
11. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)Giphy
Definitely a damsel in distress, though it isn't her fault; she's cursed to be so. Despite the story being about her, she doesn't actually speak very much. In fact, most of what we learn of her throughout the movie is from the fairies that guard her. And another instance of the power of "true love" - she falls for a man she meets only once, and it's supposed to be enough to break the curse. Aurora is by no means a bad character, but her story is dull, and a little creepy if you think too hard about it.
I don't know what I can say except that Ariel gave up her whole life, her whole family, her own voice for a man that she had never even actually spoken to. She's fascinated with a world that isn't her own, and that's okay, but at least in my opinion, she acts rashly and without thought, all for a guy she has a crush on. Her fate rests on making him fall in love with her. It's not worth it.
13. Snow WhiteGiphy
There's a lot of reasons not to like Snow White, but I'm gonna start with the thing that bugs me the most: her voice. Her voice is highly annoying, and I understand that that was part of the times, but I can't stand it. Truthfully, besides that, I don't recall most of the movie. I know I watched it several times as a child, but like Sleeping Beauty, it didn't stick. It just wasn't very interesting.