Why I'll Never Do a Top Ten List

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 my favorite and say which one is better and why.

Another reason I don't like "top ten" lists is that I don't think it's very princess-like to make one. Princesses are generally non-competitive people, at least in fairy tales, so forcing them to prove that they are better at humility, heroism, and feminity than their peers, though sometimes humorous, will have the exact opposite effect. Even Mulan (who is technically a Disney Princess) was uncomfortable being placed against other girls who seemed far more capable than her in front of the matchmaker, and she completely blew it! Of course, as we all know, that didn't make her any less valuable as a person. Ranking a princess's value in comparison to others discredits all the great things that she did in her movie and the impact that the movie had on the film or animation industry. Snow White is rarely a favorite princess, but her movie was still the first animated movie of all time and recently celebrated its 80th anniversary. In many ways, she set the mold for all the princesses who came after her. It would be foolish to discredit that entirely based on personal preference. It's no secret that Elena of Avalor is not my favorite princess, but she still made a huge impact on the Latina community by introducing their culture into the Disney Princess mythology.

"Top ten" rankings also follow a beauty pageant ideology, which is a mostly outdated method to be seen by the public as an honorary princess. I know you're probably going to say that Disney Princess rankings aren't necessarily about their beauty, but Miss America is also ranked by how well she answers randomized questions, which still somehow doesn't feel any less degrading. Even though beauty pageants are generally associated under the princess culture umbrella because of the sparkly gowns, tiaras, and the promise of being loved by the public, they have the unwanted side effect of telling the runner-ups that they simply weren't good enough, which is the opposite of the message that Disney has been trying to promote with their recent "Dream Big, Princess" campaign. They keep stating over and over again in their promos that there is a princess in every girl.

The other reason I wouldn't want to make a post listing my ranks every princess so far is that my rankings tend to change based on the day, my mood, and my place in life. Ariel was my favorite Disney Princess for most of my life, but there was a brief time in high school where I felt more like Belle and a time in college where I actually felt I related the most to Aurora. These stories are here to help us feel as though we are not alone in our lives and give us the hope of a happy ending. If one girl clings to the ideals of Tiana and another to Rapunzel, that doesn't make either one better than the other. It just shows that we are all different and relate to different interests and philosophies. That's why I don't think it's fair for animation blogs or podcasts to line them all up in a row based on personal preference. You wouldn't go up to your friends at a party and rank them based on how much you like them, would you?

It's fine to have preferences, and it's even better to relate so much to a specific character that it increases your personal feelings of self-worth, but saying that one princess is objectively better than another is like saying that all the girls who relate to that princess are better than the ones who don't. Women should be empowering each other during these tough times. Every girl and every princess has something great to offer the world, and our minuscule nuances or quirks do not place us higher or lower on some imaginary list. They simply make us who we are, which is beautiful.


Hope35 said…
Cool! I'd be reluctant to do that for the same reason.

Even when I write fan fic stories featuring 2 or more heroic princesses/heroines/combos of both I portray them all as equals. Just because one is more outgoing or one is more tough it doesn't make her better than one who is more logical, shy &/or gentle (all have their strengths and weaknesses and if written well can balance each other out and make each other better than they would've been if they did not have this person/these people in their lives).

It also hearkens back to one of my fave scenes in the 1995 A Little Princess movie, where Sara yelled at Ms. Minchin, wondering if her father had ever considered her a Princess (it became apparent by Ms. Minchin's sad/mildly shocked reaction that she had not been treated well by her father - I wouldn't be shocked given the times the story took place in if her father had wanted a boy, been disappointed in getting a girl and made no attempt to hide it and build a good relationship with his daughter despite his concerns).

I really like the theme of the book "A Little Princess" & its adaptations that say that every girl is a Princess whether or not she was actually born rich &/or with a royal title and highly recommend the book especially and the 1995 movie (I grew up seeing reruns of the 30's Shirley Temple movie, which is pretty good, but I just like the '95 movie more and think modern girls and women would get more out of it).
Lisa Dawn said…
You can see my post about that movie here: http://www.theprincessblog.org/2017/09/a-little-princess-revisited.html!

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