While growing up I was encouraged to strive to be like the stereotypical princess; fragile, quiet, proper, never to question authority, and to seek out a husband in order to have a full life.
With my relentless uncomforting character, my mother found herself often telling me to “don’t get dirty” “don’t talk back” and “little girls don’t chew on their fingernails” She’d tried her best to make me the perfect little girl, but I kept on scraping my knees, riding my bike in high speeds, sleeping with gum in my mouth (and in the mornings she’d have to cut off the chunks of hair with gum stuck on it) and of course, chewing my nails. To her disdain, I would climb mango trees and sit there for hours eating their fruit…barefoot.
Still, my mother dressed me up in pink tutu’s, slathered layers of makeup on my face and styled my hair in these crazy ways that I think influenced my refusal to wear pink, wear makeup and brush my hair as teenager and subsequently as an adult. All I wanted to do was to climb trees, tend the garden, swim in the river and go to the beach every day of my life. However, that wasn’t in the plans my mother had for me, who really wanted me to be more like a rock star girlfriend, often criticized me for not wearing makeup, and even once told me that she wanted me to look like Tawny Kitaen like seriously mom? However, being the rebellious child that I was, I never obliged to any of these standards and kept on doing whatever I wanted. Although I did brush my hair and kept it in a braid, because Mom was fearful of me getting lice in school….or anyone touching it with evil intentions and permanently damaging my hair. Sigh
In the spirit of the HelloGiggles and BuzzFeed “If Disney Princesses were real…” posts, I sought out Disney Princess’ that lack the need of alteration to resemble real people life choices and have great messages within. Although there aren’t many films about princesses that I’ve liked, the very few of the ones that I adore I’m sharing with my readers/followers. So, without further delay, I’ll share the few Princess films that encouraged me to continue being rebellious and not conform to other’s standards of what I should be.
***This list is in no particular order and if you haven’t seen any of the films I mention herein – be warned, there are plot spoilers….
- Elizabeth (1998 Directed by Shekhar Kapur) – What? A monarch who refuses to take a husband that she can’t select herself and ends up ‘marrying her country’ instead? What’s not rebellious and inspirational about that? Although this is technically a “Queen film” Elizabeth is the epitome of woman of strength in my opinion, and Cate Blanchet is divine as Elizabeth I (in this first and both its sequels). Yes, she loved a man who deceived her, she made mistakes as a young queen, but she doesn’t let that define who she is, and her abilities to rule her kingdom. In the end she stood her ground and decided to change the tradition of marrying to produce an heir and did her own thing, forever changing the history of England. That is totally bad ass.
- Pocahontas (1995, animated, Directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg) – the curious nature of our titled character led her meet John Smith. She was able to keep an open mind about these new people and while she found they weren’t all like him, she still stopped the impending war between the invading British and the Algonquin people in 17th Century Virginia. While it is certainly not an accurate representation of what really happened, it still depicts a strong-willed princess who defies all authority and decides that she’s going to follow her heart – and that in itself is inspirational.
- Ever After: A Cinderella story (1998, Directed by Andy Tennant) – This version in which Drew Barrymore plays Danielle the daughter of a merchant who dies while on his way to business, leaving her with her alone new stepmother and step sisters is a fresh and unique take on the Cinderella classic. Barrymore is perfect as the unbreakable Danielle who continues to be courageous and kind (to a point), and will do whatever it takes to help her friends even after being beaten, verbally and emotionally abused. She’s fearless and even threatens to “slice [you] from your navel to [your] nose” Pierre le Pieu her captor after he tries to rape her. She saves the spoiled and often ill-tempered Prince from thieving gypsies and even makes friends with Leonardo DaVinci, who sees her wonderful spirit and makes her wings. My absolute favorite scene can be seen here.
- The Princess Bride (1987, Directed by Rob Reiner) – This cult classic is set in the bedroom of a sick boy who is about to listen to a story read by his Grandfather. The said story is a fairytale about a commoner who is engaged to marry a horrible prince. Bride doesn’t fall short in entertainment, and quotable lines. Each scene is carefully acted and directed and filled with the idea that love conquers all; including death. However, my favorite part of the film is Fred Savage. That’s right, a little boy who wants to know what happens to Princess Buttercup and the band of misfits who set out to rescue her from a life of unhappiness. With the typical attitude of disgust towards displays of affection that young people have, at the end of the film, Savage’s character realizes the beauty of ‘true love’s kiss’ and encourages his grandfather to read that one lass part to complete the story. The idea of boys loving fairytales is powerful; there should be more of those on screen.
- Maleficent (2014, Directed by Robert Stromberg) – reimagining the story of Sleeping Beauty? Yes please! I’ve always wanted to know why Maleficent was so mean and in this take on the classic, we find out why: and it’s King Stefan. Focusing on the ‘villain” of the film, we see a new development of Princess Aurora that is so much more than in the animated classic. She curious, and most importantly she doesn’t fall in love with a Prince Philip after meeting him just once…in the woods (that premise was always creepy to me). We’re also introduced to the good nature of Maleficent, who raised walls of thorns around the moors, as well as in her heart to protect herself and her kind from humans (and rightfully so, I mean, Stefan takes her wings? W.T.F DUDE!?).The movie focuses on the relationship between Princess Aurora who is strong, and makes her own decisions when it comes to how she wants to live her life and that to me is inspiring, and playful Maleficent – making it rain on the fairies inside the cottage is quite funny. What I found inspiring was the introduction to the idea that true love comes in different forms and not just in romantic prospects, an idea that is a radical and innovative and should be featured in more films. Maleficent becomes a mother figure to Aurora and that in itself is true love, which is what breaks the spell on the little “beastly”. Bravo Disney. Bravo.
- Brave (2012, animated, Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell) – In entertaining story about a young Scottish princess who is so determined to change her fate that she changes her mother into bear leads to laughs, tears, and awe. Merida is rebellious, strong willed, doesn’t like to tame or hide her flaming red and curly hair. All she wants to do is shoot arrows and ride horses, and for people to understand her for who she is. She makes a huge mistake, and although it takes her a moment to realize what she’s done, she still tries to fix it. This displays the incredibly human aspect of life. The reason why I love this film so much is because it’s the first-ever princess film that I watched that made me think “I would have no issues with my [future] daughter striving to be like Merida”. Who learns the responsibilities of what it means to be royalty, while still refusing to be married at 16 – because she wants to just be a young girl, not a wife.