Disney Princess Realized: Disney on Ice’s Rockin’ Ever After and the Damsel in Distress Lineage

My friends have often given me the moniker of “disney princess.” I love princesses, pink, hearts, flowers, butterflies, romance…tiaras. I can go on.

It seemed oddly fitting, then, last night when I was able to host some of my dear friends at the Barclays Center showing of Disney on Ice’s Rockin’ Ever After.

Let me start off by saying it was a SPECTACULAR (well…) spectacle of music and fun and lights and magic — even dancing horses — but early on, we noticed something I wasn’t as aware of as a little girl — disney princesses really are, as a group, rather the damsel in distress!

Note: I live alone, and while I love the company of a man, I do not need one to come and catch mice or in any other way rescue me. You’d think if I was a royal, I’d be EXTRA able to take care of myself. But these Disney princesses are No Kate Middleton (or even Queen Anne Boleyn, may her misunderstood soul rest in peace) — they are passive, codependent … and I’m thinking not very good role models for girls whatsoever.

Belle: I love Beauty & the Beast – but…one could STRONGLY make the argument it romantizes an abusive relationship — a really bad idea for young girls to be learning from.

Ariel: One of my fave Disney princesses, ever — but lets boil it down here. The girl abandoned her whole life — even her species (of sorts),  left her home, friends and family, for a guy she’s only ever seen and never interacted with. It’s Felicity with sea life.

Aurora: Desires nothing more than to be pretty, loved, and rescued. (Greatest gift? Nice voice and pretty. Case rested.)

Snow White: Goal in life was to get married and live happily ever after — preferably to a prince with a huge castle.  Clearly not very bright, as per whole apple episode. (Today, she’d be a contestant on The Bachelor.)

Cinderella: We love Cinderella, clearly. Inspiring, all that. Rags to riches. Someday her prince DID come. But, she’d have stayed a slave forever if her godmother hadn’t rescued her. (So that she could – as per tradition — marry a prince and be taken care of by him forever after.)

And while I love my beautiful singing princesses of Disney lore — and still have a Disney playlist on my Spotify — as an adult, I see them in a new light. Once upon a time a movie princess was a damsel in distress, swathed in pink and jewels, waiting for Prince Charming to come to the rescue.

And that’s just not reality. Not MY reality. And not the reality of the other women in my life — or the reality of the little girls I hope to have one day. So, I no longer want to be a DISNEY princess. I want to be modern-day princess. (Complete with pink and tiara, but totally fine with kicking any arse that stands in my way.)

Disclaimer: We were provided with free tickets to see Disney on Ice last night, and had an awesome time!




  1. Allison

    At least Disney’s NEWER films such as “Brave” have been moving towards showing more independent, proactive princesses as role models for young girls. Disney on Ice seemed to incorporate this theme into their presentation of Princess Merida’s section. One could argue Rapunzel from “Tangled” as well is a more independent princess who does what she wants even if others (evil stepmother) doesn’t want her to. She basically hires a guy to help her (a “criminal” on the lam!), but they (of course) fall in love in true Disney fairytale fashion. I never saw the “Beauty and the Beast” story as an allegory for abuse but maybe I’m naive there… Belle is one of the strongest Disney princesses because she is proud of being smart, and she protects her family by rescuing her father and taking his place as the Beast’s prisoner. Belle also rejects Gaston, who, despite being handsome, sees women as disposable objects! Instead she goes for someone “unattractive” who turns out to be a nice person once she gets to know him. THEN he becomes hot. We should all be so lucky, LOL! I think Disney was getting a lot of flack about how women have been portrayed in their past films, and are moving towards showing more positive female characters now, which is great! At the same time, I think there are a lot of families who don’t want their kids to buy into the whole “princess” thing because of the films portraying women as weak. I think the vintage Disney films are some of the most beautiful ever made, and restricting kids’ access to them because “times have changed” and the women in the films are shrinking violets is silly. See the movies as a family and talk about them with your kids! End rant! :)

  2. Betty Baez

    I saw the show last Tuesday at the izod center my son loved it on the other hand I didn’t care much for it because of “damsel in distress” vibe it gave off…..except for the brave piece. I enjoyed brave I lov that she’s the only that feels she doesn’t need to be with a “prince charming” that sh can make a path for herself

  3. Ravzie

    Interesting commentary on Disney females. Yes, we mostly are helpless, waiting for the man to save us. But only if we are beautiful. Forget it if we are not!

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