I’m undeniably a product of the Disney Princess empire. Ariel is my favorite because I love the ocean and use to wish on everything I could think of that I’d wake up a mermaid. (Ironically, Mary Poppins has always been my favorite Disney movie. I’ll have to think more on that later.)
I’ve noticed that lately the Princesses have become the face for the gender-specific limitations our culture places on our female youth, and while I believe deeply in the importance of well-rounded, anti-stereotypical education, I also think it’s unfair to set these characters up as bad.
Princesses exist, and they are badass. Let’s talk about a few of them:
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge – England
As the most popular princess today, Kate Middleton has rocked the world. Known as the Kate Effect, she has become one of the most influential people from fashion to her charitable support. I love the Kate Effect because she presents herself in a very modern, yet sophisticated and classy way. It’s also interesting that so many of my peers idolize her, yet continue to skankify; a contradiction in desires I think. Don’t get my wrong, I’m not a prude, but the Duchess’s elegance comes from restraint.
Let’s get beyond clothing. Kate Middleton has been an icon of and catalyst for women’s empowerment. If she becomes Queen Consort, she will be the first Queen of England to have a university degree. Also, soon after marrying Prince William, England began the process to reform the current law which would allow for the couple’s first child, if she is female, to be first in line to the throne. That changes thousands of years of history, and requires approval from multiple countries. That’s amazing.
Queen Noor Al-Hussein – Queen Consort of Jordan
Queen Noor is an American-born woman who became Queen of Jordan. Her defining strength is her ability to withstand criticism; a talent more women would benefit from developing. I believe that was one of the strongest understatements.
As one of the first women to study at Princeton she graduated in 1974 then went on to work around in various countries before working for on a new airport project in Jordan where she met and married the recently widowed king.
Stepping into an established royal household as a young outsider is tough as it is, but include a change in religion, name and a desire to break tradition. Queen Noor handled all this, and though she received criticism her work is a testament to her dedication and passion. Because she takes her projects so seriously she found her role as royalty distracted people from listening to the more important topics:
She said: “The pioneering attempts I made to level the playing fields through education and micro financing were initially met with skepticism by a few with fixed kind sets.” But she said her husband “fully supported me and the responsibilities I felt I should assume.”
Instead it was the media that held her back. On her first visit to Washington as a queen she was upset that reporters failed to ask her meaningful questions, instead focussing on her clothes and hair. “I hoped to be taken as a credible voice with serious matters to discuss,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I could not help but feel like a useless accessory.”
Queen Rania Al Abdullah – Queen of Jordan
Anyone who promotes education, especially among women, is my hero. Please meet Queen Rania, the voice of education around the world. After receiving a degree in Business Administration she worked for a couple high-powered international businesses.
After her marriage she has promoted domestic education programs, founded and worked with multiple international organizations including: Queen Rania Scholarship Program, Jordan River Foundation and Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans.
These women are amazing. We should spend our time encouraging our daughters to expand their interests in Disney Princesses to the real-world princesses and the causes they champion. Why wouldn’t we want our daughters to be educated, elegant supporters of equality, charity and education?