This weekend, we took our children to the movies to see the new live-action version of Aladdin. I had my doubts going in, but they were erased almost immediately. I LOVE Princess Jasmine. In fact, thanks to her, I now have Disney Princess fever.
But this isn’t something I’ve always had. In fact, I think that if I were to take a look back at some to the princesses of the past (here’s looking at you, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella), I would probably cringe. In fact, I know I would. My daughter Lillian has a Disney princess storybook that I literally hate reading to her. Of course she loves it, but the oversimplified stories of “they fell in love and lived happily ever after” just grate my nerves. In 2019, is this the best we can do?
Of course not. And Disney has been making their newer princesses stronger females that I can feel good about being role models to me daughter. The “new and improved” Princess Jasmine is just the latest installment of princesses I can stand behind.
A Trend to be Happy About
When I think back over several of the newer films that Disney has released lately, I can’t help but be pleased to see stronger females represented. Frozen gave us the epic line, “You can’t marry a man you just met” which was Disney just poking fun at itself. Moana gave us a movie in which we see a young girl stay true to herself even in spite of being told that she has to be something else. My favorite thing about Moana is that she truly didn’t need Maui’s help to save the world, but did it on her own. A strong female, indeed.
The live-action Beauty and the Beast also improved the leading female. I say that with a bit of caution, because I know the old movie is a classic, and Belle already stands apart from the rest of the Disney princess cast as a reader and someone who is different. All of that remains true in the newer version of the film, BUT in this film, we see Belle not only as a reader, but as a girl who wants other girls to be educated and someone who is an inventor herself. I mean, the English teacher in me loves that Belle is enraptured by books, but don’t we need more girls in STEM fields as well? The new Belle rocks.
Princess Jasmine: A Princess Worth Celebrating
I was immediately struck by how smart and educated this Princess Jasmine appeared to be. She has obviously studied her entire life, and she really cares about her people. She stands up for herself and for those less fortunate. But the part of the movie that literally gave me chills was her new song, “Speechless” ::
I won’t be silenced / You can’t keep me quiet / Won’t tremble when you try it / All I know is I won’t go speechless / ‘Cause I’ll breathe / When they try to suffocate me / Don’t you underestimate me / ‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless
I said that this Jasmine was “new and improved” because I don’t find these qualities in the animated version of this story. Instead, I see a princess who is kind of moody because she’s stuck in a bad situation with absolutely no power or agency. She has no ambition to be ruler herself, which was a change I really appreciated in the new version. She depends completely on a man to rescue her from her situation.
I suppose you could make the argument that the same thing is true in the new version as Aladdin is the hero, but the character development that Disney put into place for her (as well as all of the characters – a much improved Sultan, if you ask me!) really made her a heroine in her own right. Agrabah is lucky to have her. And if she is one that my daughter would want to emulate, I would be more than okay with that.
Keep it up, Disney!
I, for one, have loved all of the newer versions of films I grew up with (I didn’t even touch the live-action Cinderella in this post, but “have courage and be kind” is another message I can stand behind!). As long as Disney keeps putting out movies that feature strong females that I think are awesome role models for my daughter, I have to say that I am HERE. FOR. IT.
Keep it up, Disney. Can’t wait to see what is next.