Part of raising a daughter in modern America is giving in to the whole Disney princess thing. Look, you can go on a long rant about how they create terrible role models and foster awful body issues in our little girls, but at the end of the day: she likes the heroines in the cartoons she watches. I mean, pick your battles.
Just accept the fact that your little girl is going to ask you for a princess dress, and you will buy it for her. You will do this because it makes her happy, and also she is remarkably cute when she plays dress up. I mean, the Lil Poseur is always cute, but she earns cute bonus points when she puts on a princess dress and tiara, then starts giving me orders.
However, as a responsible parent, I did try and guide the Lil Poseur to a superior Disney princess selection. Now, you do not get veto power here, and at the end of the day, she's going to pick the princess she likes best, but as parents, we try to guide her to the right choice. So, to help out my fellow parents soon to go through this process (I'm looking right at you, Billy), here is the definitive Disney princess rankings.
Now, some important notes. I am ranking the princess, not the movie. The best Disney princess movie is Sleeping Beauty, and if you think it's something else, you're wrong. However, Aurora is a pretty lousy princess for your little girl to aspire to be. Also, I'm only including official princesses, the ones that you can buy swag with their picture on it. I want to rate Princess Vanellope von Schweetz as well, but good luck finding a candy racing helmet. Which, um, I've totally tried to find. Get on that, Disney.
Ariel sucks. She pretty much endangers the safety of the entire kingdom just so she can go chasing after a boy that she has never even met. She trades her voice for the off chance of luring a boy into marriage in just three days, Look, if someone is willing to marry you in three days, he's probably not worth having. Especially if you spend most of your time together looking cute and just nodding in agreement. It would be one thing if she was just irresponsible and flighty, but her actions end up getting her father turned into a grub, Ursula essentially leading a coup, and killing untold people with violent seas. All because she had the hots for some guy she's never met. Seriously, you cannot be Ariel. I'm not even going to get into the fact I don't want to buy my toddler a bikini.
As the title Sleeping Beauty implies, the titular character spends the bulk of the movie unconscious. Unlike Ariel, she at least doesn't nearly ruin everyone's life through her selfish acts, so she's got that going for her. However, even when she's awake, there's not a whole there. It's not entirely her fault, as she's raised by three fairies who still hadn't figured out how to sew or cook in the sixteen years they had been living without magic. I can't imagine there was a whole lot of quality home schooling going on there. Also, when giving the chance to give her any qualities by magical gift at her birth, the fairies give her beauty, a singing voice, and not dying. Congrats. You just created Christina Aguilera. None of you thought to give her wisdom, creativity, or even empathy? Nah. Let's make her pretty and let her sing. Then she'll fall into unconsciousness. You can do better than this, Lil Poseur.
11. Snow White
At least Snow White is the O.G. princess. There's some value to kicking it old school. But other than that, there's not much to recommend. More than any other princess, Snow White is just plain dumb. When hideous-looking strangers show up at your front door and offer you an apple, DO NOT EAT IT. This was not some clever trap, it was more "Hey, eat this poison apple." And she falls for it. There's also the whole thing about meeting the dwarves and immediately cleaning their house and making them dinner. OK, maybe as an in-kind exchange for lodging, but she just shows up and asks to be their servant. Well, at least she's kind.
See, throwing you a curve ball here. Pocahontas scores pretty highly on the Feminist Approval Scale. She's strong, smart, and independent. She chooses her own path instead of throwing away her life for the designated love interest. She's also big into the environment. She hits all of the right marks for a guy like me who wants to raise a strong, smart, independent little girl. Here's the problem: she's boring. Quick, name a song from the movie. Name another character other than John Smith, who I only know because he was a real person. Heck, name the villain of the movie. No peeking. Remember how she hung out with a raccoon? Yeah, me neither. It is an utterly forgettable film with a fairly forgettable heroine. I want to like Pocahontas, I just don't. I don't dislike her, but she's definitely in the background of the Princess Photo Album.
I'm actually a big fan of Anna, and she's got a lot going for her. She's funny, fearless, and full of boundless enthusiasm. She's not a victim or a passive observer of her story, and instead one of the primary movers of the action. She's the one who goes after her sister. She's the one who ends up being her own salvation, a nice little twist on the true love trope. So why so low? Well, as Kristoff points out, I don't trust her judgment. She may take the bull by the horns, but never stops to consider whether taking a bull by the horns is a good idea in the first place. (It's not... bulls will totally overpower you). She's not the brightest bulb, and she's taken in by people who take advantage of her naivety. A little skepticism wouldn't hurt Anna.
We definitely got the smart thing down here. Jasmine is that strong, smart, and independent girl I want my daughter to be. She stands up to Jafar, and she doesn't just go along with any marriage proposed by her father because, you know what, she's not a thing to be traded away. She's a person, with her own passions and motivations. Also, things would've gone a lot smoother had Aladdin just told her the truth. She's big on honesty. The first problem is that she's a supporting character. Almost every other princess is the lead, going for Jasmine is settling for being the love interest. Now, she's an awesome love interest, but she's Mary Jane, not Spider-Man. Also, she's probably the most overtly sexual princess. Remember that whole standing up to Jafar thing? Yeah, she did that by seducing him.
Everyone likes Rapunzel. I mean that, she's got to be the most well-liked princess within her own universe. Flynn, of course, likes her. The Snuggly Duckling gang takes to her almost immediately, and that's a bar full of literal murderers. Maximus stops being the world's greatest police horse just to hang out with her. When she arrives at the castle, random little girls run up to her to braid her hair. I mean, the only person who doesn't like her is pretty much the embodiment of all evil. Of course, that's her surrogate mother, and growing up locked in a tower has certainly done seriously damage to Rapunzel's emotional well-being. We're talking about a character that has a bipolar meltdown for five minutes. Rapunzel is resourceful, artistic, and empathetic. She's pretty great, even if, again, she's got a whole host of mental issues that will require years of therapy.
One of the few princesses who showed herself to be capable of genuine growth as a character. OK, she turned her mom into a bear, which is a big no-no, but the resolution of her story is accepting responsibility for her mistakes. She created the problem, and it is not until she stops making excuses than she can reconcile with her mother, hopefully a better person and now able to see her mom's point of view (and her mom now understands her better, too). She also is kick ass with a bow and can scale mountains on her own. She also essentially negotiates a new peace treaty between all of the clans and remakes the kingdom in her own image. She's a little reckless to be sure, but Merida gets things done, and doesn't need you to help her. Let's be honest though, Lil Poseur likes her because of her hair.
Small business owners, unite! You got to love a princess whose primary motivation is not "I want to find a Man" but is instead "I want to own my own business." Tiana goes through a lot, even gets turned into a frog, all so she can open up a quality restaurant. That is a noble goal, and ATVS totally supports Tiana's mission of making delicious food. OK, Prince Naveen is right that she's a bit of a stick in the mud, and she spends way too much of her life ignoring friends and family so she can save up the money. But she doesn't just wish on stars, she goes out and works for what she wants. Much respect to her, and she's not so single-minded that she would allow Naveen to sacrifice his dreams for hers. Tiana rules.
Save your Stockholm Syndrome jokes. First off, you're wrong. Belle escapes from the castle, and views the Beast as a monster. It is not until he starts acting like a kind person that she warms up to him, and at that point, she was free to leave. She was no longer a prisoner when she fell for the Beast. When she was a prisoner, she viewed him like a jailer. Belle is an iconoclast, like her dad, willing to go against society's expectations of her. She rejects the hunky Gaston, the most popular guy in town, because he is a brute. Belle enjoys reading and learning, and she is willing to do just about anything for her family. She's willing to give the Beast a second chance mainly because she first falls in love with the servants at the castle. Let's be honest, a talking candelabra is pretty damn amazing. Everyone talks about looking for someone's inner beauty, but Belle puts her money with her mouth is. She actually does see inner beauty, and acts upon it.
Her story is the triumph of the human spirit, and the refusal to give up, despite overwhelming odds. Look, Cinderella's life totally sucks. She's been reduced to virtual slavery, and she's locked up in a tower with her only friends being rodents and birds. Her father used to own that place, but instead of it passing to her when he died, it instead is in the hands of a vile, vindictive shrew of a woman and her two stupid, spiteful daughters. Cinderella is now forced into hard labor at her former home. Talk about adding insult to injury. Now, she's not thrilled about the arrangement, but she also doesn't let it destroy her. She keeps a generally positive outlook despite her total crap arrangement. Yes, it takes a fairy godmother to help save her, but come on, it's not like Cinderella didn't take matters into her own hands. After getting loaded down with every chore in the house, including helping out her two half-sisters, Cinderella still finds the time and the wherewithal to make her own dress. OK, the mice and birds help, but that makes it even more amazing. She can command animals to sew her a dress, which is an amazing power. It's not until she tries to save herself and then crushed again under the bootheel of authority that she finally gets outside help. And heck, it's just for her to go to a damn party. She's not asking for the world here. Yes, a boy then saves her, but let's not be too picky. Her current options were pretty awful, and all ended in abject poverty. Get out however you can, Cinderella.
She's an official Disney princess, but she's not actually a princess in the movie. We'll let that slide because Mulan totally kicks major ass. In order to help out her family, she joins the army, almost single-handedly stops the Hun invasion (after they expel her into the mountains alone), and then personally prevents the Emperor's assassination. Unlike most of the princesses, her magical entity sent to help her out is basically worthless. I mean, Mushu is pretty funny and all, but he's short on magical protection. Mulan doesn't do anything for the approval of others, she does it to save her father's life. That's an added bonus for dads. Mulan is a rock star, and is the shining example of a character that lets no obstacle stop her. I totally want Mulan to be Lil Poseur's princess role model.
Lil Poseur doesn't mess around with princesses. She wants to be QUEEN. Elsa is the only Disney princess who actually ascends to the throne and gets to rule. Admittedly, she's pretty bad at it at first, but she does get the hang of things by the end of the movie, once she learns to deal with her god-like powers. Elsa can control the weather, create clothing out of nothing in clear violation of Einstein's laws, and oh yeah create sentient life. The secret of Disney movies is that villains are always better (Maleficent, Ursula, Cruella deVille, etc.), so Elsa allows us to have our cake and eat it, too. All of the villain badassery, only wrapped up in a friendly, princess package. Besides, Lil Poseur likes telling me what to do. She gets to be Elsa, I have to be Marshmallow.