Controversies


The Rise and Fall of the Animated Prince

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Let's take a moment to talk about princes. Why princes? Because they never really had a chance. At their best, they are seen as a coveted accessory for princesses, and at their worst, they are seen as promoting unhealthy sexist ideals to vulnerable children that women are unable to take care of themselves. Because of the latter setback, princes have gotten the short end of the stick in recent animated movies, whether it's being portrayed as useless in Brave, evil in Frozen, or completely nonexistent in Moana. Sadly, Disney had just started to improve their prince formula around the time that this brutal take-down of chivalry took place. Why can't we have the best of both worlds?

The reason for the lack of developed male characters in animated films hearkens back to the very first one, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Initially, the nameless Prince was supposed to be a much more important character. Most of his scenes were cut from the film because the studio had so much tr…

How Sofia's Controversy Created Elena of Avalor

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With the Realm of the Jaquins special coming up this weekend, now is a good time to discuss the origins of Elena of Avalor. It started last year as a spin-off of Sofa the First, and thus far, it's proven to be little more than a mere shadow of its predecessor. Elena's premiere was celebrated with an elaborate coronation ceremony at the Disney theme parks, viewing parties, and shout-outs all over the media. Sofia got none of these things. Why? You may not like my answer. Nearly all of the attention focuses on Elena's heritage as a Latina princess, not the quality of the show or the character. I am in no way denying the importance of diversity and representation in the media, but let's take a quick look at how Elena of Avalor came to be.

In 2012, Sofia the First premiered with a special entitled Once Upon a Princess. It went on to become a regular television series airing on Disney Junior in 2013. Princess fans watched the series with great anticipation, and they were n…

The Burning Question: Is Mulan a Princess?

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Mulan is a wonderful animated feature that was released by Disney in 1998. Showcasing a young woman who broke tradition by disguising herself as a male soldier and saved all of China in the process, it is, in my opinion, one of the most empowering films for girls on the market. Yet, with my reputation as a self-proclaimed princess expert, there is one burning question that people are always asking me: "Is Mulan a princess?" She was not born to a king or queen, nor did she marry a prince, so why is her visage so often plastered alongside the other royal heroines? The short answer is that she's not a princess, but she is a Disney Princess. Why aren't the two mutually exclusive? The answer to that is a bit more complicated.
When the Disney Princess line was launched in 2001, it initially focused on the main six--Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine. However, since Jasmine was the only heroine of color in the line, it expanded shortly thereafter to in…

Queer Princesses

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Queer fairy tales could not have existed until fairly recently sue to social stigma. Gay and transgender princesses are rare, but they are out there and will only grow in number as the LGBT movement gains momentum. Since Disney is still testing the waters, we need to look to Japan, with its progressive culture of yaoi and yuri. Queer characters are fairly common in anime. When it comes to fairy tale tropes being turned on their head, there's no better example than Revolutionary Girl Utena.


Utena's gender and sexual identity are rather complex. In some ways, she is very feminine with her long pink hair and gentle voice. She got caught up in the mysterious rose duels in the hopes that she would be reunited with a prince who comforted her when she was a young girl. Yet, Utena rejects social norms by wearing a boy's uniform to school, wielding a sword, and telling everyone that she wants to become a prince. She isn't exactly transgender, but she could be gender fluid. Her …

Are All Queens Evil?

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In my "Animal Princesses" post, I mentioned that Lauren Faust was coerced by Hasbro to change Queen Celestia into Princess Celestia because little girls see queens as evil and princesses as good. Why is that? Surely, there were many benevolent queens throughout history and mythology. Have the Disney Princesses taken over the world so much that people believe that princesses ran the monarchy? I think it's more complicated than that. Wicked queens are usually stepmothers who seduce the king to gain power. Most princesses don't have mothers, and the few that do are very loving. What is the root of the problem behind all the queen hate?


The Evil Queen from the ever evolving tale of "Snow White" strikes fear into children's hearts at the mere mention of her name, if she has one, of course. Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first animated feature film ever, it had the side effect of setting the groundwork for certain archetypes in animated fairy t…

Are All Princesses Good?

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Yesterday, I explored the stigma that all queens are evil. Today, I'd like to follow up with an analysis of the stigma that all princesses are good. In the 1985 movie, Legend, Princess Lili gets seduced by Darkness and transforms into a "dark princess" in a revealing black dress, implying that her innocence had been taken away. Does being a princess and wearing a white dress automatically make a character sweet and innocent? The creators of Child of Light, which I referenced in my "Video Game Princesses" post, had some fun with this concept by disguising a wicked princess to look like a good one. Ironically, the word "princess" is often used as an insult. Why? No one embodies the reasons behind that better than Princess Morbucks from The PowerPuff Girls.


Despite her name, Princess is not actually a princess. She is the spoiled daughter of a very rich man who gives her everything she wants. Thus, she possesses all of the princess traits that are frowne…

Do Disney's New Theme Park Costumes Go Too Far?

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I mentioned in my "Theme Park Princesses" post that the Disney Princesses get occasional updates on their costumes every few years. However, the updates for the European princesses were much smaller than the changes Disney has made to their ethnic princesses as of late. I was one of many princess fans who was quite shocked by how much they had altered Jasmine's costume. Mulan and Pocahontas's signature dresses have been changed quite a bit from the original movies as well. Were these changes about political correctness, or were they genuinely trying to improve the outfits from these classic animated '90s movies? Let's take a look.


First up, we have Princess Jasmine, who used to wear a skimpy crop top in the vein of her outfit in the movie with additional bling. Jasmine's original costume was very similar to something a belly dancer would wear in her culture, not a princess. Still, the look was all the rage when Aladdin came out in 1992. The new costume ha…

The Princess Body Image Issue

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Big-shot director James Cameron recently made some controversial comments regarding the recent Wonder Woman movie, referring to her as "an objectified icon" and calling the movie "a step backwards." He used this as an excuse to pat himself on the back for his character Sarah Conner from the Terminator movies. James Cameron is notoriously full of himself, so it's no surprise to see him bring down another movie in order to promote one of his own. His comments rubbed many people the wrong way, including Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who retorted with:
"James Cameron's inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for...is unsurprising as...he is not a woman...If women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren't free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven't come very far have we. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman…

Does Race Determine Which Princess You Can Dress As?

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Halloween is just around the corner. Did anyone go to any fun Halloween parties this weekend? Who's your favorite princess to cosplay as? Halloween is the one time of year that people can pretend to be someone else and to look and feel different from their everyday life. I dressed up as Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time this year. For me, Emma is a makes me feel empowered because she is more assertive than I am and has survived through many hardships in her past. It's fun to dress up in unique costumes once a year, especially if you've always wished you could be a princess. Recently, certain articles have been popping up on social media claiming that dressing as a princess who is a different race than you or your child is "cultural appropriation" and therefore wrong. As you can probably guess, I am of the dissenting opinion on this not only because I think kids should be able to dress as whatever they want for Halloween, but also because I believe that it goes agai…

Do Princesses Encourage Vanity?

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One of the most common criticisms that princesses get from adults is that they encourage little girls to be vain. It's a separate issue from body image because it's about their delicate features and not their shape. In fairy tales, there is always an emphasis on the princess character's striking beauty. She is fair-skinned and raven-haired with big eyes and glittering jewels. Take for instance the '90s board game "Pretty Pretty Princess," in which the goal is to have all of the jewelry in the game and win the jewel-studded crown in order to become the princess. As we all know, being a princess is not just about jewelry. Newer Disney Princess movies tend to place more emphasis on inner beauty than many of the older ones.


Fairest is a book by Gail Carson Levine about a girl named Aza who wishes more than anything to be beautiful. It is a twist on the classic "Snow White" tale, changing her defining trait from physical beauty to a beautiful singing voic…

The "Damsel in Distress" Stigma

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I recently saw a fantastic YouTube video analyzing the stigma that the title character from Disney's 1950 Cinderella is inherently weak despite enduring years of abuse and maintaining a strong survival instinct. It got me thinking about one of the most common criticisms people have toward princesses, which is that being a "Damsel in Distress" is a poor influence on girls. My issue with this is that it implies these characters somehow choose to put themselves in horrible situations in an attempt to be rescued by a prince. Why would anyone choose to be placed in such awful situations? They wouldn't. Just because many of the older princesses do find a way out of their unfortunate circumstances through the love of a prince (which is no longer the case) does not imply that they were the masterminds behind their own abuse. In fact, if they had intentionally put themselves in these situations, they would certainly have some extremely messed up psychological issues.


There&#3…

Are Princesses Only for Kids?

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It's a little surprising this topic hasn't come up yet, but I suppose it was inevitable. A little while ago, I saw a Facebook ad for a Broadway Princess Party in which three women who played princesses on Broadway will be performing a concert consisting of their favorite princess songs. Of course, I immediately bought tickets. The post continued to show up on my feed for the next few days because it was sponsored, and I eventually saw a comment from someone asking if the event was for little kids even though the ad said nothing implying it as such. To make matters worse, another person replied that they were confused because the concert is at night, which seemed late for a children's event. Considering that most Broadway shows have 8pm performances regardless of their target audience, I would say the time of the concert is irrelevant. The target audience is another story entirely, though. Is this directed at children despite featuring performers who most children would hav…

Is Anastasia Now a Disney Princess?

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Have you heard? There's a rumor in St. Petersburg! Disney has bought out Fox for $54.2 billion earlier last week. They mainly did this to obtain ownership of what few Marvel properties they didn't own yet, but as an added side effect, they now own other animated properties including The Simpsons and everyone's favorite Don Bluth princess, Anastasia. Anastasia recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and is still going strong on Broadway. What does this merger mean for the many fans of the franchise? To be honest, probably nothing. However, there are those who are keeping their fingers crossed that this historically inaccurate redhead will be added to Disney's elite group of princesses. Could this dream become a reality once upon a December?

The answer is a bit more complicated than you might think. Being a Disney Princess is not necessarily the same thing as being a Disney character who is a princess or in some cases, a popular heroine. What cannot be disputed is that …

How Princess Culture Affects Society

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A few days ago, I saw a meme pop up on my Facebook feed listing a bunch of empowering adjectives to use for girls to replace the words "princess" or "beautiful." I admit I might be a little bias as the proud owner of a princess blog, but when I saw this, I couldn't help but think to myself "Those two things are not mutually exclusive!" In recent years, there has been a huge surge of princess-related content in the media that has not only changed what it means to be a princess but has also created an entire culture around it. Just like with all movements, princess culture enthusiasts were quickly met with a large opposition who focus heavily on the negative aspects what it means to be a princess. As a result, we end up with books like Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, which claim that princesses may prevent girls from living up to their full potential.

Being a princess today means something completely different than it did 50 years ago, 1…

Mysticons Played Its Fans Like a Violin

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When writing about shows that haven't ended yet, there is always a risk of analyzing something that may no longer be valid a few weeks later. This has happened to me twice with Once Upon a Time when I pointed out that Tiana did not appear to be a princess by birth in the series, which turned out to be false a couple of weeks later and later that their Rapunzel storyline wasn't actually about Rapunzel, whose storyline turned out to be covered the following week. Despite these minor incidents, though, I have never felt quite as duped by a TV show as I did with last week's episode of Mysticons entitled "Twin Stars Unite." You may recall my post about the new princess in Mysticons, in which Proxima, who had mainly been a background character up to that point, was revealed as Princess Arkayna's long-lost twin sister. The writers proceeded in having us believe this lie for an unprecedented five episodes, which translates to over a month in viewing time, before reve…

Princesses of the Animation Industry

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What are the first names that come to mind when you think of the people behind your favorite fairy tale princesses? The Brothers Grimm? Hans Christian Anderson? Walt Disney? Don Bluth? John Musker and Ron Clements? Considering how empowering so many of these stories are to women, it's surprising that the overwhelming majority of people behind them are men. The recent success of Patty Jenkins behind the 2017 Wonder Woman movie and the inspirational writing team of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna behind the CW's princess culture-inspired Crazy Ex-Girlfriend series got me wondering why Disney has so few women behind its own female-driven classics. Even independent princess filmmakers like Don Bluth and Richard Rich got their start at Disney, making it virtually impossible for anyone to find much success in the animation industry without working there or at another major animation studio first. In an industry that's so biased toward men, animation ingenues like myself bar…

What Is Happening to the Disney Parks?

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Change is not always a good thing. When it came to the Disney Parks of old, Walt only wanted to make changes that would support the advancement of technology, new movies, and the overall enjoyment of his guests. For a very long time after his passing, his philosophy seemed to remain in tact. In 2013, Walt Disney World did a complete redesign of their outdated Fantasyland in Florida. New Fantasyland was everything a modern princess could possibly want from a Disney park, with gorgeous real-life reproductions of locations from The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast along with stunning new rides featuring the latest in animatronic technology. Unfortunately, happy endings last forever, and many of the changes that the parks have made since then have not been for the betterment of the guests. Instead, they came as a result of business partnerships and corporate greed. These changes range from insane price hikes to the recent closing of my favorite restaurant in Disney's California…

Do Princesses Ever Get Angry?

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As we all know, princesses are the most interesting when written as fully fleshed out characters with a wide range of personalities and emotions. However, some sources claim that princesses, or at least the ones from Disney movies, never experience any feelings other than happiness or sadness. Disney even made this jab at themselves in one of their own movies. In 2007, Giselle from Enchanted was shocked to learn that she was capable of experiencing anger when she left her animated fairy tale world for the grungy reality of modern-day New York City. The implication was that she needed to be a real person in order to experience real emotions. Do two-dimensional princesses really only experience two dimensions of emotion? Let's explore.


To be honest, I find such claims confusing because animated princesses get angry all the time. Ariel's motivation to become human in The Little Mermaid is cultivated by a heated argument she has with her father over whether or not she's old en…

Charming and the Decline of Femininity

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I've been wanting to write about Charming<, an upcoming animated movie for a long time. I first heard about it at the CTN Animation Expo in 2014. However, small animation studios like 3QU tend to have trouble getting their releases off the ground. That might explain why the movie trailer dropped over a year ago without any sign of a release date and then mysteriously disappeared without a trace until last month. According to IMDB, the movie is coming out gradually in various parts of Europe over the course of the next month or so, but there is still no mention of a release date here in America. Despite its limited release, the studio was able to cast some pretty big names, including Demi Lovato, Ashley Tisdale, John Clease, Tom Kenny, and Tara Strong. At first glance, Charming looks like it's just another princess parody from the producers of Shrek, but many of the comments on the trailer revealed some strong opinions that I would like to explore further. Watch it below and for…

Confessions of a Grown-Up Princess Fan

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There's certainly no shame in loving princesses when you're older. However, ever since I entered my 30s, I noticed that there were certain aspects of princesses and fairy tales that I could no longer relate to. I still believe in fighting for what's right and following my heart, but I don't view the world with the same wide-eyed innocence as I did when I was a teenager. Most princesses are roughly 16, and they tend to act their age. When we're younger, everything is new and exciting, and there are infinite possibilities for the future. Our lives may not be the easiest, but we've never been let down or had their heart broken yet. The older I get, the more I understand why queens are often portrayed as dark or evil. Though I still relate to Ariel's passion and desire for freedom, I probably act more like Megara from Hercules or Kida from Atlantis. These animated heroines have been around long enough to see the world for what it is and don't feel the need…

Why I'll Never Do a Top Ten List

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It's a fairly common thing for blogs or YouTube channels like mine to do rankings of the "best" characters, movies, etc. I put "best" in quotes because it's entirely subjective. I've seen plenty of "top ten" lists online before, and every time one of two things happen--I either agree with it or I don't. That's going to be the case for anyone who sees such a list. It's just one individual person's order of favorites, and it doesn't say anything about the quality of the movie or impact of the character. Now, if you were to ask me who my favorite princess is, I would have no problem answering that (Ariel), nor would I hesitate to tell you my runner-ups (Tiana, Mulan, Rinoa Heartilly, Anastasia, Sofia, Rapunzel, and Belle). I could even give you a list of articles I wrote about one hundred different princesses if you're having trouble keeping track of them all. The only thing I won't do is go through each runner-up for…

Is the Daughter of the Village Chief a Princess?

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Being a princess can mean different things to different people. Being a Disney Princess gets a little more complicated. There's a joke from Disney's 2016 Moana about what makes a Disney Princess when Moana tries to tell Maui that she isn't a princess, and he claims that if she wears a dress and has an animal friend, she is, which is pretty much on par for Disney standards. Even though Moana isn't listed on the official Disney Princess page due to her movie being recent enough to market off its own name instead of the Disney Princess name, she was still included in the Wreck-It Ralph 2 trailer. Moana is pretty clear about how she sees herself is in the song "I am Moana" in which she states "I am the daughter of the village chief." The lovely Auli'i Cravalho who lends her voice to the spirited protagonist is also rather vocal vocal about how she considers Moana more of a heroine than a princess. Of course, with the way princess culture has evolved…

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