Anyone who loves Disney has a favorite Disney princess—it’s practically expected of a person to choose Belle over Ariel or Rapunzel over Anna. Amidst all this love for the princesses, people also love to debate about which one is the best, leading to some serious tension between Disney fans. Cinderella is the best because she fought against the restraints put upon her, or Belle is the best because she saw the true beauty within the Beast, or Anna is the best because she fought for her sister rather than a man.
However, there’s always hate for the princesses as well. Cinderella was too passive, waiting around for her prince to show up with her shoe, or Belle developed Stockholm Syndrome over the Beast, or Anna fell in love with a man and decided to marry him over the course of one night.
Each Disney princess has strengths and weaknesses, but it’s becoming a pretty common occurrence to rank the Princesses from worst to best. Snow White is usually ranked last, as she is seen as passive and naïve, falling into the Evil Queen’s trap and singing about how she’s literally “waiting for my prince to come.” Mulan is usually ranked the best as she literally saves all of China, combines both mental and physical strength and doesn’t end up marrying a man in the end (though Shane does show up at her house, using the excuse of returning her helmet to see her again).
While Mulan is undoubtedly badass and a symbol for modern-day feminism—as she did everything a man can do and even better (she was the only one to reach the arrow that was stuck in that insanely tall pole, while carrying two gold weights)—is ranking her as the best, and Snow White as the worst, a true representation of feminism?
Feminism is centered around the idea of not just equality between women and men, but also the respect and love between women and women. Pointing out all the flaws of some of the princesses, like Snow’s naivete or Ariel’s rebelliousness, and not others just because some are more physically tough, like Mulan, or have dreams other than finding a man, like Tiana with her restaurant, isn’t the best show of feminism.
Anyone can point out the good and bad in each princess. Snow White is sweet and brave, having almost been killed and forced to leave her home and hide in the woods while keeping a positive mindset about her, though she can be naïve since Grumpy straight up told her not to trust any stranger who comes a-knocking as it might be the Evil Queen. How Grumpy knows that, I don’t know, but Snow doesn’t really listen.
Cinderella is strong for getting through the abuse that was inflicted upon her, but she doesn’t really go out and find help. Aurora is very in tune with nature and is sweet, though a little naïve as well (she falls in love with Phillip after one day, without even knowing his name). Aurora however, isn’t to blame for pricking her finger on the spinning wheel, as Maleficent put her under a curse, so she wasn’t in the best mindset at the time.
Ariel is spunky and adventurous, but too rebellious and sells her voice for a man. Belle is very smart (she sees through Gaston’s crap) and very brave to take her father’s place, but is seen as having a mental disorder for falling in love with her “captor.” Jasmine is curious about the world and leaves her palace walls to see it, but loses some of her agency since the film “Aladdin” is Aladdin’s story. Pocahontas is insanely brave to show her people and the colonists that different cultures and races can love and respect each other, but she throws away her culture and her people for a white dude. Mulan is tough and strong, but she puts herself and her family in serious danger by going off to war.
Tiana is very well centered in her desire to get her restaurant, but she can be pretty high strung. Rapunzel is generously nice, and brave to leave her tower, but she falls in love with the only man she has ever met. Merida would rather fight for her own hand in marriage than marry a bad prospect, but she gets her mom turned into a bear just because she’s mad at her. Anna is quirky and unusual, but she still decides to marry a man after meeting him that night. Elsa is great for breaking against the bonds and restraints put upon her, but she still flees from her sister and would rather live in scared isolation than face her problems.
And finally, Moana chases her love of the ocean by going on a self-discovering journey, but she’s a Mary Sue, made almost perfect due to Disney’s desire to create the ideal, most feminist Princess imaginable.
Each Disney princess can have perks and imperfections to them, depending on how you look at it. For me, I would never agree with people saying Belle has Stockholm Syndrome or that Rapunzel fell in love with the first man she met just because he happens to be the first man she has ever known. But that doesn’t mean people won’t have these opinions about the Princesses. All have good and bad to them, which makes them more relatable and easier to fall in love with, therefore picking a favorite is inevitable.
However, each time a list comes out ranking the princesses from worst to best based on our ideas of what a modern woman should be today, it takes away from the true essence of feminism—not tearing other women down just because they don’t fit into a certain model.
Yes, the Disney princesses are just fictional, but a lot of people, not just little girls, look up to them, so seeing them degraded to a number on a list can be hurtful. The number ignores either all the good or all the bad of the princess and pits them against each other, leading Disney fans to fight with each other. That doesn’t sound like equality to me.
As a senior in college, I see Belle as a role model—a young woman who uses mental fortitude to make it through her situation and stand up to the Beast when he’s being, well, a jackass. I know I’m not a fighter like Mulan, but I stay true to my dignity and beliefs like Belle does. Yet, my love of Belle doesn’t mean I think she’s the best; she’s just the best Princess for me. All Disney Princesses are great in their own ways and no one should feel ashamed for loving one over another. Just don’t go bashing all the others because you don’t agree with their actions, since someone else can look at a Disney princess you hate and love her due to reasons you cannot see.
People should stop ranking the Disney princesses from worst to best and forcing them into a number, and instead, allow all of them to shine in their own way. Pick a favorite Disney princess and let other people choose their own, and rejoice in a female empowerment movement that doesn’t base women on a number ten slot or a number one slot.