Disney Princesses have been around for almost a century, starting with Snow White and the latest being Anna from Frozen. So far, there have been over a dozen princesses and their popularity has cultivated into a billion dollar entity. However, partly due to this renown some of them have received diatribes from critics. A few general criticisms have been they either rushed into marriage, fell in love unbelievably quick or were passive in achieving their happily ever after. Although, four certain princesses have gotten the most flack. Are they warranted?
4. Snow White from Snow White
Snow White has garnered many negative critiques. These include her being banal, defenseless, naive, inactive and solely occupied with finding her beloved. I concur with the majority of these points, but I don't believe she's entirely responsible for them. Before Snow White fled we knew that for an undisclosed amount of time she served as her step mother's slave because she was jealous of Snow's beauty. Also taken from the fact she was willing to have her killed and unleash harsh punishment upon the assailant unless he complied hinted that home life was most likely not ideal, and she was probably subjected to daily, verbal and psychological (and possibly physical) abuse.
Given the era of this movie (1100-1300s) finding a husband was equivalent to a get out of jail free card for women. Especially for Snow, seeing as how she spent many years living in a hell hole. Also being holed up in a castle for that long fairly excuses her lack of fighting skills and ignorance. Regarding her personality it's important to acknowledge the time period, as most on screen women during the '30s were prepossessing waifs who were as interesting as a spoon. Examples: Ann from King Kong (1933), basically any love interest in horror movies (Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, etc.), Cleopatra from Freaks etc.
3. Aurora from Sleeping Beauty
Aurora's been criticized for having no personality, doing nothing and again, day dreaming about finding her love. Yeah, I have no comeback. She's simply used as a pawn in this movie while the fairies and Maleficent are front and center. She and Prince Phillip fulfill Disney's romance requirement. Hell, she's asleep for almost the last half hour of the film. While I don't despise her I can see why others do.
2. Cinderella from Cinderella
Cindy was a maid in her own home before her world changed for the best. After her father passed away during childhood Lady Tremaine (her step mother) took reign and exposed her true colors. She forced Cinderella to serve her and her daughters day and night. Yet, this didn't stop the young woman from dreaming for a better tomorrow. The character has been repeatedly picked on for not taking enough action, being simple and marrying a man she met only once.
It's established that Tremaine holds a firm grip over our protagonist's life. She tells her what to do, and what not to do. This has been going on since she was a kid. Who knows what kind of mental and emotional ramifications this might have caused? Which possibly explains why she didn't do anything till an opportunity presented itself that was within Tremaine's comfort zone. While she's not Disney's most complex princess, I don't think she's completely boring. She's a hard worker, optimistic, loyal, kind and creative. Unlike Snow White she had her limits.
1. Ariel from The Little Mermaid
Ariel's come under fire for being bratty, reckless and impulsive.Which sounds like the directors' intentions payed off. They wanted to portray her as an authentic teenager. This meant she'd occasionally act angsty, spontaneous, free spirited and ignore/down play authority. While this is a somewhat stereotypical personification of teenagers they also fleshed her out as being curious, passionate, brave, tenacious and adventurous.
Her decision to give up everything for a man has also been criticized. Yet, what people seem to miss is that she was interested in humans and their realm (and desired to be a part of it) BEFORE Eric came into the picture. And the deal she made with Ursula allowed her to simultaneously become human and win over Eric. Although others (prominently the Nostalgia chick) have brought up that Ariel's seemingly unconcerned about the emotional turmoil she put her family (especially her father) through during her absence, and she got what she wanted without learning anything. Besides the fact she profusely apologized to her dad it was a brief moment. And she didn't seem that much different in the ending from her introduction.
Overall, Ariel's not a perfect character, but I think she's a decent precursor for Disney to writing stronger and more compelling women characters. Looking back, Disney's leading ladies weren't the stirring heroines that we have today (Elsa, Belle, Tiana etc.), but we can appreciate the fact that over the years they've evolved from damsels into dynamic individuals.