As a little girl, I was addicted to Disney’s films. What child wasn’t though? Disney (and Barbie) ran my life! My first movie theater experience was The Lion King. My Uncle Kym and Aunt Sandy took their daughter, cousin Briana, along with all of their rambunctious nieces and nephews to the sold out viewing. I remember we all weren’t able to sit together so Shelby and I got to sit by ourselves. With all of that freedom we thought we were grown, ran our mouths and irritated EVERYONE anywhere near our vicinity. “Shhh! Be quiet!” We had a LOT to talk about-you all already know, The Lion King is action-packed, drama-filled aaand has a hint of a sex scene!
But I digress. As I was saying, Disney was insanely popular and while it didn’t begin that way, their princesses began becoming more and more diverse. It seemed that with every new movie I saw, I would get attached to the new princess in a different way. While I could never relate to Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty (race was NEVER addressed in my home when I was a young child but even I knew that I couldn’t identify with blonde hair and blue eyes), Ariel was a different story. While her distinctive red hair and and amazing singing voice drew me in, in a very weird way I identified with her longing to join a world that she was not a part of. As badly as she wanted legs was as badly as I wanted a mermaid fin. To this day, The Little Mermaid’s soundtrack is my favorite Disney movie soundtrack.
The next Disney princess that captured my attention was Princess Jasmine. For the first time I saw a Disney princess with brown skin and dark hair-surely Jasmine was representative of myself! Jasmine was doted on, spoiled and while she had no mother around, she was extremely close to her father. As a young girl, I had yet to experience any significant obstacles or strife, and to be honest, my married (at the time) parents provided a very secure home. Simply put, I was spoiled. Through Princess Jasmine, I’d imagine that I had servants and had a very close relationship with my father-Princess Jasmine’s father never disciplined her!
And finally, saving the best for last comes the Princess that I jokingly identify with to this day. As a child the Native American princess Pocahontas was finally myself coming to life within the television! Unlike Aladdin, which featured several Middle Eastern cultural practices I didn’t identify with, Pocahontas featured Native Americans and touched on European colonization. Within the Yancey side of the family, it was/is a widely known fact that my late great-grandmother, Mama Dodo was a Cherokee Native American. Grandma Yancey has told me many stories of Dodo’s upbringing-I’ve heard that she was raised on a reservation, had nine siblings, etc. (Grandma Yancey has some stories I tell you…) so as a result, I watched Pocahontas to learn more about my assumed culture. I’d watch Pocahontas talking to Grandmother Willow and imagine that Dodo talked to trees, ran through forests, went canoeing in rivers, lived in Teepee’s, etc. Knowing that Dodo’s son, my late Papa, wasn’t a full Native American, I’d also imagine that perhaps Dodo had a love affair with a European man like John Smith (even though I knew Papa’s father was a Black man). Today, when people don’t believe that I am not biracial I have been known to jokingly respond, “I have some Pocahontas in me, but what Black person doesn’t?”
There are of course other Disney films that featured other princesses, but none I really cared for. Mulan was too boyish for my taste, Belle was locked up with a beastly man and talking dishes, and Snow White was living with a bunch of ugly, little men in a dirty house. I never actually saw Sleeping Beauty in its entirety so I never knew much more about the princess other than how she looked. What about you guys? What were your favorite princesses? Least favorite? Any princess Disney missed that you think should be created?