What Should A Princess Look Like?

Belle, Reimagined --- Photo by: Claire Hummel

I had the best princess role model when I was a child. Although she had beautiful dresses and ornate, stylish hairdos just like the Disney lineup of princesses, she also carried a blaster, didn’t take any lip from any scruffy nerfherders, and actively participated in her own rescue.

Yes, she was still a bit of a damsel in distress by today’s standards, but Princess Leia was no shrinking violet, and she didn’t take any guff even from Darth Vader and his foul hench(stench?)man either.

And at that time, women were not allowed to be Jedi. (Or at least, no female Jedi had been seen in the Star Wars universe, which was later rectified–about the only good change from the old trilogy to the new, really.) But even if they had, I would’ve wanted to be Princess Leia.

People often remember her armored bikini. For some reason they forget that she personally strangled the guy who forced her to wear it with his own chain.

I digress. Disney’s current lineup of princesses seems to fill that princessy void for many of today’s girls. While I like many of those characters–Ariel and Belle are probably my favorites personality-wise–I don’t really think any of them are quite as spunky, audacious and clever as Princess Leia.

And there’s been controversy about how some of them are … well… sexed-up… for the princess lineup. It’s not quite as bad as bikini armor, but the issue of making Brave’s Merida “more beautiful” got a lot of parents riled up.

I can see why. Part of the issue with the Disney lineup is lack of diversity. Sure, there’s a Native American, a Middle Easterner, a Chinese woman, an African-American woman. With the possible exception of Mulan, however, there aren’t any tomboys. (And she wasn’t even really a tomboy; she dressed up as a man to save her father’s life.) Merida has a bow, though, and she’s a more adventurous type.

It would be great for girls to see the princess lineup, and see that there are lots of ways to be a woman, not just one way. You can like dresses or not. You can like blasters or not. You can be pretty or not–but there are lots of ways to be pretty, too.

I actually do like dresses, though I don’t often wear them. And so I would like to direct your attention to this beautiful gallery of Disney princesses (and a villain), reimagined in more historically-accurate costumes, just like the Belle shown at the top of this post.