Are the Disney Princesses Feminists?

Pixar's new animated movie Brave opened this past weekend, and it kicked butt. It brought in over $66 million in the United States, and these dollars don't include the mountains of Brave-related paraphernalia. The movie focuses on the dogmatic Scottish princess Merida and her disdain for doing things her parents want her to do (marry, keep her hair kempt).

The reviews of the film are mixed. It's Pixar-pretty but no WALL-E or Toy Story. The compilation movie review Web site Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 75 percent, which is okay, but as Lisa Kennedy from the Denver Post poignantly states, "Saying that Brave is entertaining but not astonishing is pretty much admitting your straight-A student got a B."

More than the reviews and its financial success, what's garnered the biggest headlines is the fact that Brave is all about girl power, and this little princess is assertive and independent, which is crazy! Maybe the suffragettes did have an impact after all.

Granted, Pixar has not made anyone's "studios that make girl-centric films" list; the most memorable females from the Toy Story franchise were Barbies, but the media has really latched onto this concept like hair on lip gloss. What I find perplexing is why a children's cartoon about a defiant princess is Jezebel-worthy news? I can barely name a cartoon not about a strong-willed chick.

As the years have passed in the cartoon world, heroines have become increasingly independent. This does not make them feminist films by any means as, sadly, the young lady's independence is usually the thing that gets her ass in trouble, but that doesn't stop these girls from trying. How feminist are Disney princesses and how have they evolved over the years? Let us track the progression of the recalcitrant cartoon heroine, shall we?

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig