The narrow definition of a princess is the daughter of a king. The broader definition includes any young lady protagonist in a fairy tale. And thanks to Disney’s branding ‘princess’ now encompasses any young woman in any media vaguely adjacent to storybook fantasy. Or any young woman in any media owned by Disney.
Princesses were traditionally thought of as baubles: pretty, delicate, shiny, and with little else to contribute to the world. Their role in the narrative was to be beautiful and marry well. And then have babies: sons to rule and daughters to…be beautiful, marry well, and have babies. But princesses were sold as an aspirational fantasy. Why wouldn’t every girl want to wear pretty dresses, fall in love with royalty, and live in a castle?
Thus, princesses were long considered unfeminist, or even anti-feminist. Starting in the 1990s Disney, and storytellers who wanted to capitalize on the brand Disney created, responded by creating more progressive princesses. Princesses who had aspirations beyond marriage, who had interests and desires of their own. They introduced princesses who were not white and gave us new versions of old stories. Debate rages on, but princesses are no longer merely baubles, and in truth, never were.
For this theme I chose princesses with a story to tell.