Princess Sisters

The fall of the Disney Prince left a gaping hole in many princesses' hearts that could only be filled by a different type of love. Instead of focusing on ladies-in-waiting and stories about friendship like in the Barbie movies, Disney decided to start giving their princesses siblings. Until recently, most of them were only children, and very few of them had two parents. I've written a little about Ariel's sisters in the past, but they come off as a separate entity from Ariel with the exception of a few episodes of the series. Modern princess sisters spend just as much time together as they do apart and compliment each other's differences, teaching children how to get along with people who don't share the same perspectives as them. The first Disney characters to achieve this were not Anna and Elsa, but Sofia and Amber from Sofia the First.

Once Upon a Princess, Sofia's 2012 premiere movie, was all about her rocky relationship with her new stepsister, Amber. Before Sofia showed up, Amber was the only princess of Enchancia, meaning that she never had to share anything. When Sofia and her mother moved in, Sofia was the one being presented with new dresses, tiaras, jewelry, and a celebratory ball. In a fit of jealousy, Amber did everything she possibly could to humiliate her. They would have ended up just like Cinderella and her two stepsisters if the power of Sofia's amulet hadn't summoned the Cinderella herself to encourage Sofia to handle things in a different way. It was a fitting message, considering Cinderella's newfound relationship with her stepsister, Anastasia, from the 2007 sequel, A Twist in Time. Sofia and Amber learned to put their differences aside and became friends from that day forward.

I love Sofia and Amber's relationship because they're opposites in every way, but they're still there for each other if one of them gets into trouble. Sofia was brought up as a peasant in the village, like many Disney Princesses, giving her a strong sense of humility. Amber, on the other hand, embraces her princess upbringing the point where she can quite vain sometimes, an undesirable princess trait that I expanded upon in my "Are All Princesses Good?" post. Since she's not the main character, Amber is able to get away with having more vices than Sofia, but she's there for her when it really counts. Sofia excels at making friends, so she does a great job at opening Amber's eyes to accept other people from the village who she may have otherwise considered beneath her such as Ruby and Jade.

One of my absolute favorite songs from the Sofia the First was a duet between Sofia and Amber from the 2017 movie special, The Mystic Isles called "That's Not Who I Am". In it, Amber admitted her insecurities, revealing a side of her that we hadn't seen before. It turned out that she wasn't just jealous of Sofia because of the attention she got from her father. She also admired her adventuresome spirit and bravery to always do the right thing no matter what it took. However, Sofia quickly reassured Amber that even though they were not the same, Amber still had a good heart and did the right thing too when it came down to the wire. The song showed a significant amount of growth for Amber and how her relationship with Sofia had matured since the beginning of the series.

Sofia's 2016 spin-off, Elena of Avalor, continued the trend of sisterly love with Elena and Isabel. Though not exact opposites, Elena and Isa do compliment each other with their differences. Where Elena is extroverted, Isa is an introvert. Elena is spontaneous with a take-charge attitude, while Isa is a planner who gets intimidated easily. Personally, I think Isa is a more interesting character than Elena, but they do make a great team, unlike Sofia and Amber. While Amber is too obsessed with her gowns to be of much use on an adventure or mission, Isabel has the critical thinking skills to make up for Elena's presumptuous nature. That's not to say that Isa is without flaws, though. She is extremely possessive of her big sister, to the point where she often has trouble remember that Elena has a responsibility to Avalor as the ruling crown princess. Still, if anyone can make possessiveness look endearing, it's Isa.

This brings us to the most famous princess sisters of all, Anna and Elsa from Disney's Frozen. As we all know, I have my problems with the movie, but the central theme of true love between two sisters breaking the curse was very refreshing. Anna and Elsa's relationship was different from the Disney Junior princesses because they spent most of their lives estranged from each other. Anna's brain wipe put a huge rift between her and Elsa that destroyed their sisterly bond at a young age. Yet, Anna refused to give up on Elsa, even after their parents died and she was left to grieve alone. Elsa thought that the best way to show her love for her little sister was by shutting her out in order to protect her, when in fact, she was actually hurting her more. It wasn't until the two understood that they loved each other differently that they were able to use that love to thaw Anna's frozen heart that Elsa had accidentally inflicted on her. It would have been nice to see more of their newly formed relationship at the end of the movie.

Sisterly love is the new romance, and it's here to stay. Since we can't choose our family, it's great to see Disney showing us characters who love and protect each other even if they don't always see eye to eye. The princess sisters that they've released so far compliment each other perfectly and encourage tolerance and understanding. As a family-oriented company, Disney continues to expand upon the true meaning of ohana.


Hope35 said…
Mysticons of course twisted this idea on it's head with former only child Kay (until her mom married her stepdad and she gained a step-bro she hates - nice twist on NOT making it like the aforementioned Sofia the 1st where Sof is close to both of her step-siblings) learning she had a long-lost twin sister, being united with Proxi upon the orphanage matron making her think she was her twin but then learning that it was a lie set up to protect her real twin Zee.

The writers having Kay still love both young ladies as sisters was very sweet and I hope will be used to help bring Proxi back around to being happy and good once the bad masky exits the picture.

One could even use Kay's relationship with Em as an example for how a future relationship with Proxi might work because even though they're not related in a birth sense, I'm betting Em was the 1st person Kay saw as being her sister without the need for a genetic relationship to carry or encourage it.

I think Kay might even see Piper as a sister too but probably in a slightly more remote sense because she knows Piper mainly favors having Zee as her honorary older sister (another princess sister type relationship subversion).
Hope35 said…
Actually the Tangled Rapunzel tv series are an interesting study in codification and subversion here too:

1. The codification is with Rapunzel's mother and her sister (Rapunzel's aunt) Willow (so we can assume that Queen Ariana and her sister grew up as princess sisters even if they became estranged somewhere down the line then reunited).

2. The subversion is with Raps herself. Her parents did not have any other children before or after her so her "sister" is her ironic lady-in-waiting Cassandra (though aspiring knight/palace guard Cass I'm sure would not want to be referred to as a lady-in-waiting at all).

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