The Power of the Princesses

If you read Buzzfeed you may have already heard of the story of Brooke Lowery, a woman who ended her engagement and had a photoshoot at Disneyland to help pick herself up again. It’s a lovely story and can be read in full here.

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There are many more pictures like that at the link I’ve posted, and they’re all equally as nice. Miss Lowery is a vision of loveliness and Disneyland looks astonishing, as it always does. The whole thing has a hint of the old Date Nite At Disneyland events they used to hold in the 50s, and which I kinda wish they’d bring back because, well, just look at it. Those swingin’ cats look gosh-darned adorable, and it’s all so lovely and…

Well, we’re not here to talk about Date Nite at Disneyland. Back to Brooke Lowery, who had this to say about her photoshoot.

“London is my absolute favorite place in the world, but Disneyland, like a fairy tale, is almost like my favorite place outside of this world, and I knew this milestone in my life wouldn’t be complete without incorporating such a magical place.

“These women are kind even when others are not. They are loyal and compassionate, inclusive and accepting, elegant and discerning, dreamers and doers. They look for the best in others, they bring honor to their families, and they work hard and stay true to themselves.”

I love this quote for reasons I’m a little nervous about going into. That’s because, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I really love the Disney Princesses. I love what they stand for, I love their strength in adversity, I love their faith in other people. There’s so much to admire about them, and it genuinely makes me sad that these characters come in for some really nasty criticism.

Now, the nerves about discussing this come from the fact that as a man, I have absolutely no right to dismiss how women react to women on screen. If you watch Disney Princesses and don’t like them, I’m certainly not going to tell you you’re wrong. I’d like to think I’m not that kind of guy. In fact, one of my favourite things is critiques of Disney films (so long as they’re well-considered). However, I will defend Disney Princesses a bit here (and will probably return to the topic in a longer piece somewhere down the line).

That’s because I think Miss Lowery has really struck upon something here. Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White and all the rest – she’s right, they are “kind even when others are not”. They are “loyal and compassionate, inclusive and accepting, elegant and discerning, dreamers and doers” (thank you, thank you, thank you for that last word; too often we overlook how proactive these women are). They are heroes.

I’ve intentionally used that word because as I’ve got older I’ve found myself increasingly tired of superheroes (which I loved when I was younger) and more and more fascinated with Disney Princesses. The likes of Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman all still entertain me, but the nature of their stories all lead one way: the use of superpowers. They have to. Could you imagine a Spider-Man film where he doesn’t web-swing? Or a Superman movie where he doesn’t fly? Superhero films are fantasies that are resolved by fantasy: the use of powers none of us can ever have.

Disney Princess films, however, are fantasies where our heroines win by using powers we all have and we all should use a hell of a lot more: our loyalty, our compassion, and all the other things Miss Lowery mentioned. These are things that are all in our grasp, and Disney Princess films show us worlds that need them and characters that have the courage use them and save the day by using them.

Like I say, I’ll probably come back to this at some point, but in our society, which is so divided and currently being threatened by an orange beachball, Disney Princesses are important role models who people should celebrate much more. It’s great to see stories such as this doing just that.

UNPLANNED EDIT: In The Smiths song I Know It’s Over, Morrissey (as he did often in the 80s, but doesn’t do so much any more) said something incredible smart.

“It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate/It takes guts to be gentle and kind.”

He knew it not, but Morrissey was really singing about Disney Princesses and why they’re awesome.

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5 thoughts on “The Power of the Princesses

  1. Yes.

    One of my all-time favourite movie critics said something along the lines of, “Too often we dismiss kind characters as being stupid, naive, useless, etc, but the story about a good person trying to be good in a world that is fundamentally not good is the most compelling story of all and does not automatically make the good character stupid.”

    I feel this way about Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, etc. Superheroes can do this too, but too often their stories seem more like spectacles – which is fine, but the last time I felt like maybe Batman was actually a good guy was when I was like 6. He’s having too much fun beating people up for comfort.

    I’ll pick Ariel: her working with Ursula and being manipulated by her is not Ariel’s fault. It’s Ursula’s. And Triton’s, sort of. People consistently missing this makes it clear we need to celebrate genuinely good characters more often, because the real-world version of this is victim-blaming..

    (ps – even while male, defending a depiction of a female character some women – and men – find problematic is all good if you’re doing it in good faith

    which you are

    I don’t get to speak for all women but whatever. I think that’s fair.)

    pps – write something defending Belle! Would love to see a different take on her.

    Like

    1. Which critic said that, as honestly, that’s just perfect. I’ve been trying to reach for that kind of eloquence when explaining my feelings for Disney Princesses. In a world of darkness and cynicism, to be good, to have faith in goodness, is an act of revolution.

      And good to hear your PS. I’d hate to think that I’m bulldozing over the opinions of women, or mansplaining, so it’s nice to hear that it comes off as being in good faith as that’s certainly how it’s intended.
      And on your PPS, I may well do that. I do really like Belle, so I’ll rewatch Beauty and the Beast and get something down.
      Stop giving me ideas!!!!! 😄

      Like

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