The Lost Princesses

Hello There! It has been a very long time since my last post (June is so far away now), but it has been a very hectic few months! I had a couple of University projects to work on so I went on a revision crazy tirade. However I am back now, and hopefully more often!

Today I wanted to write about the beginning of my summer. My boyfriend and I took a trip to Disneyland for our anniversary, which quite frankly, was one of the best holidays I have ever been on! Aside from the excitement of me going on all the rides, dragging my boyfriend into EVERY SINGLE SHOP, and meeting as many Disney characters as I physically could, I could not help but notice a little detail that frustrated me ENDLESSLY.

I am famous within my family for being very jealous that I can’t dress up as a Disney Princess in Disneyland. I love how authentic the costumes are, but unfortunately adults cannot dress up in the park as it could confuse the children. The costumes range from Snow White all the way up to Princess Anna and Queen Elsa, the most recent additions. Whilst walking around Disneyland I saw Tianas, Rapunzels, Cinderellas, Ariels dressed to the nines in sparkly costumes.

But who didn’t I see? Pocahontas and Mulan.

I find Pocahontas and Mulan the most interesting princesses within the Disney Princess Franchise, rarely mentioned, marketed or met, Pocahontas and Mulan are the rarest princesses of all, yet have the strongest and most influential stories.

Pocahontas of course, was the break through princess for female empowerment. As I wrote previously, the second generation princesses did become stronger, yet there was still that patriarchal reliance on men. Pocahontas on the other hand, is a free spirited young woman who wishes to follow her own path rather than the one that her father has set for her. The powerful ending that Pocahontas chooses to fulfil her life by becoming a leader as opposed to leaving for England with John Smith suggests that Pocahontas is the first princess who chooses herself over her love, although some scholars disagree with this idea.

Mulan on the other hand does get the traditional Disney Princess “happy ending”. The film begins with Mulan recognising she is not like other girls in her community, and makes the ultimate sacrifice for her own father (also to earn some ‘respect’ from him) by posing as a man in the army. Mulan not only becomes one of the strongest ‘men’ in the regiment, she saves her comrades mid-battle and then goes and saves China. Mulan gets recognition not only from the members of the city, but also from the Emperor himself. When she finally arrives home, and celebrates her fantastic achievements with her family her achievements are almost overshadowed by her love interest’s arrival. The film ends with Mulan asking whether he would like to stay for tea, and her grandmother yelling, “…would you like to stay forever?”. So after challenging gender roles and saving China, the pinnacle end of the story is Mulan potentially getting a boyfriend.

Nevertheless, of all the Disney Princesses, Pocahontas and Mulan challenge the gender stereotypes and are a good role model for young girls. This causes me to ask the question, why are there not enough Pocahontas and Mulan costumes being marketed? The fact is, there is not enough marketing for them as princesses, maybe because they are unorthodox compared to Cinderella or Belle. They are very active and independent compared to previous princesses, but it appears that that does not make them more popular. This causes me to ask the second question, is this because they are not marketed enough, or because young girls are simply not interested in these princesses?

I hope that as my research continues I will be able to build on this idea, so please let me know your thoughts about this in the comments below!

Thank you for reading this blog post! If there are any questions, feedback, or requests for future posts, please feel free to email me or post in the comment box below!