Disney's New Princess Moana Inspires Our Wishlist For Female Heroines

​Forget Prince Charming and life in a castle, we've rounded up exactly what we want from future Disney heroines

MOST POPULAR

In recent years, there's been a conscious effort to redefine the Disney Princesses.

Backlash about how we portray women on the big screen has infiltrated all areas of the movie industry - from blockbuster to animation. 

Lacks of diversity, unrealistic beauty standards, values being placed on whether or not she can get a man - these issues are all rife across the spectrum of films produced and Disney has certainly not come out of it scot free. 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

MOST POPULAR

Previous Disney Princesses

We do have to hand it to Disney though; they have tried. Let's take a look at some of their attempts to create a more diverse and spirited bunch of heroines.

The Princess of Agrabah (Jasmine) was one of the first independent female characters that Disney conceived of. She defied society's antiquated views on arranged marriage and her best mate was a massive tiger, which was pretty badass. 

As the first non-white member of the Disney princess conglomerate, Jasmine also went against traditional female aesthetics, wearing baggy trousers and flat shoes as opposed to dresses and high heels. 

When Jasmine's right, she's right. #WisdomWednesday

A video posted by Disney Princess (@thedisneyprincesses) on

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

However, it didn't take long before she was reduced to a compliant female lead, secondary to Aladdin who sweeps her off her feet (quite literally with that carpet), rescues her from Jafar and proposes to her, making all her loveliest and most clichéd dreams come true. 

Moving on to Merida of Brave

Even though Pixar's first female lead Merida – the 16-year-old daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor – was initially praised for her unkempt hair, make-up free skin, love of climbing and dream to become Queen, without the need of a King (or table manners). 

What makes you as brave as Merida? #DreamBigPrincess

A video posted by Disney Princess (@thedisneyprincesses) on

But, we all cried girl power too soon, because Disney undermined the Brave writers' attempt to create a more profound heroine, when it redesigned the character to appear much slimmer and more glam version of the Princess for its toy line. 

GIF
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Following a  petition that successfully saw the character returned to her former appearance, Merida creator Brenda Chapman said: '[Merida] was a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the 'imperfections' that all people have … By making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior.'

Lastly, there was Frozen. At first glance, Frozen appeared to champion feminism, with two brave female characters celebrating sisterhood, the right to rule without a man and rejecting the 'happily ever after' heterosexual romance trope of previous Disney films.

MOST POPULAR

However, on deeper analysis, Disney is seen falling into the same old habits. 

Both Elsa and Anna are portrayed with caucasian skin tones, Barbie'esque unrealistic waistlines and ultimately found happiness by falling in love with male characters. 

If previous examples of Disney Princesses are anything to go by, it seems the company has a long way to go before viewers see the end to visual disparity and sexism. 

But, could change finally be coming?

The future of the Princess

Later this year, Disney will release Moana – the story of a 16-year-old Polynesian girl on a mission to save her land. Gone are the cinched-in waists, caucasian skin and dependance on male protagonists. Moana is seen with a more realistic, healthy body shape and a storyline isn't shaped by a male love interest. 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The film's producer Osnat Shurer told the Sunday Times: 'We are telling a 'hero's journey' story, so we wanted our hero to be able to be a hero.

'We decided early on to treat Moana as you would any hero and there just wasn't room for [a romance] in her life,' she added.

However, despite the positive descriptions of the new character, just last week the studio was forced to withdraw a full-body costume for a Maui character from the film that featured brown skin and traditional tattoos after receiving accusations of cultural insensitivity and racism.

For characters that have such a direct influence on girls' expectations of life and their role in society, will Disney be capable of mastering the creation of a complex female character, for once?

We hope so. 

But if not, we've rounded up our wish list of characteristics future Disney Princesses, you know, just in case Disney needs some inspiration: 

Disney Princess wish list

1. No Prince/Princess Charming

The success of a princess is not defined by her romantic relationship to a man, or woman. We would like to see a female Disney character who can save herself from danger and find happiness on her own terms. 

2. No derogatory comments relating to a woman's capability

Whether a sexist comment from another character is proven idiotic or not, it just shouldn't be there in the first place. 

No banter, por favor.

via GIPHY

3. Normal dress sizes

We should be able to celebrate women who we can see our better qualities in, not those so far removed from the realms of what we ourselves can achieve.

If the protagonist chooses to wear make-up, tease her hair or wear a dress, they should do so not to be sexualised or fulfill expectations of female beauty but because they want to – for themselves.

4. Strong female bonds

Much like in Frozen, we want to see strong female relationships between sisters, mothers and friends. Girls need to see positive role models with flaws, not binary opposites of evil queens and saintly teens. 

via GIPHY

5. Varied skills 

We want to see female characters being able to run, fight, play sport and work just like their male contemporaries and not relegated to household duties such as cleaning and baking. 

We're looking at you Snow White. 

6. Happy on their own

So often, female Disney characters are depicted as being loners or 'different,' solely because they go against society's expectations of women. 

Disney characters should be allowed to defy the status quo without being segregated for having different opinions or hobbies.

Disney, are you taking notes? 

Read Next: