I know what you’re thinking – why on earth is she reviewing a cartoon character? Well, let me give you a tiny bit of context. The Disney Princesses have been a part of my life since I was a kid: I’ve fallen in and out of love with most of them, and in this age of feminism and what it means to be a woman, I thought I’d give a few brief words on the lineup. With the recent announcement of Disney’s new film (and potential princess, Moana), I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at them.
So let’s start with the first and potentially most classic of the Disney Princess lineup, Snow White. Snow White was the very first Disney Princess film I watched, and the first Disney Princess costume I ever owned. I loved her – but as of now, she’s probably my least favourite of the princesses. Why? Well, hopefully I can answer that as we go along.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937. It was Walt Disney’s first full feature length production and has proved so classic that is has been re-released numerous times. I can understand why people love it so much. The animation is real, you believe (to a certain extent) what you are watching, and the characters endear themselves to you. Such is Snow White’s legendary nature that in Once Upon a Time (the ABC series), her, her Prince Charming and the Evil Queen are very much lynchpins of the whole show.
But the world the original Show White debuted in is a very different one now, where social commentators look at the independent strengths of Elsas, Rapunzels and Meridas. It might be that at the end of the film, Snow White is saved by the Prince, but let’s not knock at the independence she exhibits. Snow White runs from her pursuers, manages to set up a life for herself (albeit as a housekeeper), and dares to fall in love with a man that given her circumstances, was now above her station. For the average woman in 1937, these are acts of surprising independence and self strength. Let’s note that the film’s title focuses primarily on Snow White. This is her story, and not anyone else’s.
I know I’m very much a product of my time, and I admit that given this, Snow White will never have the greatest of places in my heart. But for those cynics saying she’s no longer a princess worthy of note, imagine what she might have represented to those little girls in 1937. Perhaps I’m being an optimist, but I’d like to think she inspired one or two of them to make it out in the world on their own, in search of a better life.