Header image credits: Star2
The men in my life have a hilarious tendency to mix up the princesses in the lives of the women they love. Whether it’s a child’s favorite Disney Princess, the latest news in Princess Kate’s life, or the recent wedding of Meghan Markle, royals play an important role in the life of anyone who’s into monarchs (like me, who buys every grocery store magazine with a royal face on it). So it’s important to get them right, especially in the wake of Disney-themed Christmas gift-giving.
Here is a list of the newest Disney princesses, broken down play-by-play (with spoilers!) for fathers, brothers, uncles, and anyone at all who needs a little help keeping it all straight.
The first African American Disney princess, Tiana’s movie came out in 2009 and she spent most of the time as a frog after kissing one that had convinced her he was a prince. A great example to use when warning girls away from frog-kissing.
Also an excellent example of a hard worker as the owner of a cafe in New Orleans, so if you want to encourage a little entrepreneurial spirit, Tiana is the way to go. While not technically a princess, Tiana offers a ton of awesome lessons in perseverance, grit, and determination. Plus, she has the best animation out of all the Disney movies, and you can fight me on that later.
The movie is a little scary for kids under the age of seven because there’s a voodoo doctor who tries to open a portal to hell so treat that with caution. But by all means, read the books and buy the dolls! Tiana is probably one of the most independent Disney princesses to date.
My personal favorite since I was a little girl. You might recognize this from the famous line, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” But the Disney take is nothing like the Grimm version I grew up on.
Rapunzel is a curious artist trapped in a tower, with hair imbued with healing properties by a magic sunflower. She’s rescued by accident by a convict on the run from the law, so she serves as a good lesson in stranger danger. But she’s also a good model for learning, artistic expression, and adventurous spirit despite her fear. I always loved her the best, not because she waited in a tower to be saved like your typical princess, but because she used her art to make the best of a hostage situation.
The movie features sword fights, references to sex and drunkenness, and you get to watch an old lady disintegrate into nothing right before your eyes. So you might want to err on the side of the 2002 Barbie book to start.
Personally, I think people are sleeping on Merida. She’s a stubborn Scottish chief’s daughter (not a princess!) who accidentally turned her mother into a bear and has amazing archery skills.
A feminist icon, Merida breaks down gender roles in traditional Scottish society and while she’s disobedient, she is also headstrong and smart. Her movie might seem silly, but it’s based on a traditional Scottish folktale, so you learn a bit of Scottish history and culture along the way. Her movie features chases, archery contests, bear fights and not a small amount of tomfoolery. An excellent choice for any budding feminist, male or female, and a great repository of pranks I still have to try.
Moana is also not a princess. She’s the daughter of the chief of Motunui, a Polynesian village on an island in the sea. She lives for the ocean, but her father’s overprotection holds her back from her destiny to return the heart of Te’Fiti to the goddess of creation. She joins forces with a rooster and a demigod Maui and sails across the ocean to fight a lava monster and save the world from climate change.
It’s based on a traditional Polynesian legend, teaches girls to foster curiosity, adventure, and leadership, and it has an amazing soundtrack written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Moana dolls (or action figures!), the Moana movie, or Moana books make an amazing gift for any curious adventurer. The movie features sea monsters, a sassy ocean spirit, Polynesian culture and history, and a giant homicidal crab. I highly recommend it.
Elsa and Anna
Okay. Here we go. These are the big ones that get mixed up. So let’s just take this slow. Elsa and Anna are sisters. They are the daughters of the king and queen of Arendelle, a Nordic kingdom, until their parents die in a shipwreck and leave Elsa in charge.
Elsa is the older sister and she is not a princess either. She’s a queen. She’s the one with the white hair and the blue dress. She’s the one with the ice powers and the ability to create life through snow. She’s the one with the song you will never, ever get out of your head again. But she’s an interesting case of a woman dealing with self-hatred, something Disney hadn’t done before. Her story teaches us to accept differences and to love ourselves with all our imperfections. Disney did something right.
Anna is the redhead. She’s a bumbling little adventurer who goes after Elsa to convince her to bring back summer. When she was just a little girl, Elsa struck her with a shot of snow and for her protection, her parents erased her memory and Elsa was forced to hide her powers. Anna enlists the help of an orphaned ice seller, a reindeer, and a talking snowman to bring her sister back to the kingdom. She is every bit as stubborn and independent as her sister, but with slightly straighter priorities when it comes to running a kingdom.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t even know what to say to you.
So there you have it: the latest Disney princesses in an easy-to-read summary. You can check out this, this, and this for further reading so you can really wow the people in your life that are all about princesses. Now you’ll know what you’re talking about next time you go to a Disney-themed party, enter the Disney section of Target, or accept a little kid’s invitation to play princesses with them.
Cartoons designed by Amy Mebberson.Check her out on Facebook!