Beauty is only skin deep. Although we’ve all heard that saying, we still appreciate and are attracted to a pretty face. And Walt Disney did little to correct that trend. His first three Princesses were heavy on the looks, light on true depth. But 30 years have passed and the final eight official Princesses have worn a different tiara.
So who would be the best Princess of them all if we added more than beauty into the equation? To find out, we will gauge each Princess on the following criteria: Independence; Judgment; Contribution; Personality; and of course, Physical Appearance.
Let’s start by meeting the contestants:
Snow White (1937) – SW
Cinderella (1950) – CIN
Aurora (1959) – SB
Ariel (1989) – LM
Belle (1991) – BEL
Jasmine (1992) – JAS
Pocahontas (1995) – POC
Mulan (1998) – MUL
Tiana (2009) – TIA
Rapunzel (2010) – RAP
Merida (2012) – MER
SW, CIN, and SB definitely lose this category. They were little more than bystanders in their own lives. LM, BEL, JAS, MUL, RAP, TIA, RAP, and MER all lived in restrictive times but were able to rise above that to find their own path. But most of them did rely on others to help them do it. In the case of MER, I think she went a little too far! So this round goes to Pocahontas.
This Indian Princess was independent from the get go! She had a strong will and a determination to try new things which ultimately led to bridges being built between two very different cultures.
Runner Up: Mulan
Again, our first three Princesses didn’t have many decisions to make. Others did it for them, or to them, in the case of CIN. When she decided to venture out, it was under the protection of her Fairy Godmother. But that’s not enough to win this round.
LM also loses this round because she went to an evil Witch to get what she wanted! RAP also loses for trusting a thief, although no one could blame her considering the situation! TIA was ready to put her dreams in the kiss of a frog. Again, MER made such a bad decision that it turned her loved ones into bears. Perhaps asking for something more specific than ‘change’ would have been a good idea!
So that leaves it to the final four Princesses. JAS snuck out from the safety of her palace, but was in no real danger, as she could always identify herself for protection. POC and MUL both risked a lot and put them themselves in great danger, but it was for a good cause.
But I’m giving this round to Belle. She decided to sacrifice herself, her freedom, and her future, to save her ailing Father. A nobler thing I can’t imagine!
Runner Up: Cinderella
SW, CIN, and SB were all good housekeepers. They sang well and were kind to animals. For their times, those were good contributions.
LM, JAS, RAP and TIA were more about their personal journeys. They did touch others along the way, but their stories were more about them.
That leaves BEL, POC, MUL, and MER. BEL eventually left the Beast, although she did return. But I’m disqualifying her for that anyway. MER did finally contribute to her Father’s people by learning to be a peacemaker between the tribes without having to marry anyone. I like that! And although POC did make for peace too, I have to give this round to Mulan. Hey, she helped win a war!
Runner Up: Pocahontas
All of our contestants have good personalities. But let’s see if we can eliminate some in a lightning round. SW: Too sweet. SB: Not enough to go on. LM: Possibly a bit selfish. BEL: A tad condescending to her ‘provincial’ neighbors? JAS: Spoiled. POC: A bit too intense. MUL: Conflicted. MER: A wee bit bratty (but read on).
I’m having a hard time placing TIA in this category. She was a feisty frog!
But I’m giving this to Cinderella. No matter how horrid everyone was to her, she just kept singing and working and… loving! Even after her Prince came, she didn’t hold a grudge against her wicked stepfamily. Now that’s character!
Runner Up: Rapunzel/Merida
This is purely a matter of taste. Some of the Disney Princesses are more overtly sexual than others, even though that’s not something we’re supposed to notice. But come on, a clamshell bra? Who wouldn’t notice? But for me, Jasmine wins this round!
Runner Up: Aurora
And the winner is:
So if we add up the points, who is the ultimate Princess? The best of the best? Rating each Princess on each of the categories with a 1 for the least and 5 for the most relevant, the winner is:
P o c a h o n t a s
Runner Up: Cinderella. And hoping that both break a heel on the way to the podium: Belle
If you disagree, leave a comment and tell me why!
This article was previously published, but updated to add the newest Princesses