In Defense of the Disney Princess



“I am a Princess…


I try to be kind.

I try to be generous.

I am kind even when others are not so generous.


I believe compassion makes me strong.

Kindness is power.

And friendship is the tightest bond of all.

I have heard I am beautiful.

I know I am strong.


I am a princess.

Long may I reign.”


Those were the words printed on the canvas that made my heart light up.

While my husband and I were out browsing for Christmas gifts, he brought my attention to various Disney princess canvases—and we left the store with what I think were the only ones left in stock with those words printed on them (because I decided all the little girls in our families that still like Disney princesses were getting one of those canvases for Christmas.)

I will preface this by saying that I used to think it was bad to tell your daughter she’s a princess. I thought it was a selfish lie. I looked down on it and (judgmentally) thought it was bad parenting. I told myself I would never call my daughter a princess if I had one. But now I know it’s only “bad” to tell your daughter she’s a princess without telling and showing her what a princess really is.

My husband and I went on a Disney Cruise for our honeymoon (and it wasn’t as childish as it sounds for a honeymoon. It was actually really beautiful, elegant and inspiring. I recommend it.) During the trip, we gained a newfound love for all things Disney and I remembered how much I used to love Belle. (In fact, it was such a newfound love that my husband convinced me to stand in line to “meet Belle” with all the eager little girls. I am grateful that my husband sometimes challenges me to indulge my inner child in spite of my hesitation and reservations.)

During the last night of the cruise, we attended a showing of the new Cinderella. If you haven’t seen it, please do. The theme of the film is an underrated, beautiful message to “have courage and be kind.”

In the movie there is a particular scene toward the end where Cinderella and the prince are leaving the stepmother’s house, and before walking out the door to her happy ending Cinderella turns to her stepmother and says; “I forgive you.”

(It’s one of those moments where you want to stand up, cheer and fist-pump—but it would be awkward because there’s no background music that floods in to drown out the sound of your cheering.)

Say what you will about the hidden agenda of Disney movies and how the princesses have tainted our view of what love really is, but I actually think they’re kind of awesome.

In an age where we blame the Disney movies for steering us wrong when it comes to love and it’s considered ignorant (and nearly shameful) for a woman not to be a feminist or to desire love and a family over an impressive resume and “successful” career, I think we’ve overlooked the true message Disney princesses were trying to tell us all along.

I don’t think it was about the Prince Charmings and the happy endings and the princess getting swept off of her feet. I think we made it about that. Call me politically incorrect and crazy, but I think it was about doing what’s right no matter what happens to you.

Or, at the very least it could be about that. If we cared to notice it.

Cinderella withheld revenge and forgave her evil stepmother. Beauty gave her life for her father’s and loved the unlovable. Snow White showed unrelenting kindness to all who crossed her path. Do you notice something here? None of these princesses sought revenge, waited for an apology or let their heart turn cold in spite of their hardships—and they found the courage to open their hearts up to love even after all their painful, unfortunate circumstances. 

That’s powerful. That’s the sort of thing that could change the world.

Since seeing that movie, my husband and I have been scouring the Internet for the original copies of these stories (and believe me, it’s harder than you think.) I’m intrigued. I find myself needing to know what it really means to be a princess, and what it really means to be a strong woman—because I think we see them as opposites and have the wrong idea of both.

Beauty isn’t about how you look; strength isn’t about being tough; and having courage doesn’t mean you are fearless. Beauty is about how you see and treat others; strength is about keeping your heart soft; and having courage means you face your fears in spite of your fear.

That’s what these princesses can teach little girls.

(And Cinderella is actually a lovely, strong role model, if you ask me.)

Life is no fairytale—but life can be a beautiful story in which we “have courage and be kind.”



About April Dray

Written word is my zeal. I love my cat and she tolerates me.
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