6 Disney Princesses Who'd Likely Welcome Emma Watson's More Feminist 'Belle'


When we were children, many of us delighted in the lives of Disney princesses. As adults, though, we sometimes wonder a bit when sharing these tales with impressionable young girls -- because many of the classic princesses seem pegged as damsels in distress. That's why we're behind the idea that one of them will get a feminist edge in the live remake of Beauty and the Beast. Plus, Emma Watson's character, Belle, is not only going to be cursing her corset to hell, but is also going to have a job -- something unheard of when it comes to the OG ladies of the throne. 


Even that corseted look (in that famous scene in which Belle falls in love with the Beast) was done away with because, as costume designer Jacqueline Durran told Entertainment Weekly, Emma Watson's Belle is an "active princess." And active she is indeed, with her new job as an inventor. If this role sounds familiar, it's because in the 1991 animated version of Beauty and the Beast, Belle's father was an inventor. Watson, who never shies away from being a feminist, told the outlet of the new career-oriented Belle:

I was like, 'Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn't fit in, other than she liked books. Also, what is she doing with her time?' So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.

An inventor and an inspiration, as Emma also explains: "It troubles [Belle] that she doesn't necessarily fit in, but I think she really holds close to her heart her dreams and her aspirations. She was definitely a role model."

My generation has had the pleasure of watching some of Disney's most recent princesses embody some much-needed feminist updates. We hope to pass these messages down to our children for many years to come, and when it comes to the classic princesses, we're glad that their modern versions are thinking outside their original boxes.

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We need our girls to know that a Prince Charming isn't necessary to having the life you want or to saving the life you currently live. Life without a Prince Charming can be just as amazing as life with him (or her) -- it's simply about what you desire as a young woman, and it's all about choice. We also need our girls to know that women can do anything that men can do when it comes to one's aspirations (from achieving one's career goals to saving one's family) -- and that being a princess doesn't have to equate one with being a damsel in distress. That is the message we so desperately need more of from Disney.  

Although the company hasn't actually announced that it has that goal in mind for its movies, it seems to be addressing the (often unspoken) concern, even in this recent re-imagining of the classics. Millennials have witnessed a new generation of forward-thinking, dare I say millennial-minded, badass princesses for both us and the generations to follow.

While you can find hints of feminism in the original Disney princesses (Belle included), it was really these six Disney princesses to change the game with their new #GirlBoss ways.

1. Pocahontas, 1995

We may have never noticed because we were too busy singing "Just Around the Riverbend," but Pocahontas was one of the first princesses to realize her life's meaning wasn't merely defined by getting the guy. Instead, she chose to fulfill her destiny, which didn't include sacrificing it for a man.

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2. Mulan, 1998 

Mulan really needs no explanation if you've ever seen the movie. But in short, the main character goes on a G.I. Jane–type mission, going undercover to join the military in order to prevent her sick father from being drafted into the war. While she starts out knowing absolutely nothing, she ends up proving women can do anything men can do -- if not better. 

3. Tiana, 2009

We've seen princesses like Cinderella work, but it was often because they were forced to with a sort of slave-driven demand. However, The Princess and the Frog's Tiana is no stranger to the concept of hard work (by choice), as she has big dreams of owning a restaurant in the heart of NOLA and acknowledges that it's hard work that is pivotal to achieving those dreams -- not a man.

4. Merida, 2012

Brave's Merida, a headstrong and determined young woman, is set on creating the type of lifestyle she wants -- one that means breaking away from tradition. And with a little bravery, a lot of adventure, and a damn good shot (with her bow and arrow), she sets out on her journey to get the life she desires. For better or worse.  

5. Elsa, 2013

Okay, so Frozen's Elsa is actually a Snow Queen, but still she's a Disney royal and she's definitely earned a place on this list. And being that she's a queen, it's refreshing to see that she doesn't answer to a husband and even fights her own battles. Not only that, but in a Frozen sequel, there's been a high demand among fans to make her the first openly gay Disney royal. However, Disney has yet to confirm that our #GiveElsaAGirlfriend request has been met. No less, that would be awesome if it was, as it would add an even wider range of diversity to the princesses.

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6. Moana, 2016

The newest princess, Moana, doesn't make her debut until Thanksgiving Day. However, from what we know, she fits the bill with qualities that describe her, according to Vogue, as "indomitable, passionate, and a dreamer." Moana sets out to save her people, and in the process she's said to find herself. Guess what she's not looking for? A prince to save her and her people

Yes, our princesses only get more boss with time, and we can't help but imagine what's in store for the future of Disney princesses. Until then, though, we can't wait to see what kind of girl power Emma Watson brings to our beloved Belle.

Image via Walt Disney Pictures

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