Mothering on the Edge

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Princesses Rated

So...Disney Princesses. What can you say? They're commercial. They're everywhere. They're skinny. They're turning my daughters into brats. Or trying anyway. So, in the spirit of understanding my enemies, I've developed a covert classification system:

My Princess Rating System

Here's how it works. There are 6 categories. The first 5 give points. The last can subtract them. They're based on what I want my daughters to gain from princesses.

  1. Modesty and Fashion Sense-First impressions, you know. I don't think princesses should dress like little tramps. Call me crazy.
  2. Intelligence and Curiosity-'Cause princesses should be smart, too.
  3. Self-confidence and Bravery-Self-explanatory.
  4. Respect and Kindness-This is what I'm HOPING my daughters are getting from these darn stories. That a princess is kind and graceful and has manners.
  5. Prince Points-For the prince they choose, and their reasons for falling in love with him.

They get a maximum of 10 points for each of the above categories, for a total of 50 possible. And finally,

The Brat Factor-this is points the princesses LOSE for doing bratty things-usually disobeying their parents, being selfish or whining.


Modesty and Fashion Sense-9 points. She dresses in rags because she has to, but her ball gown is very nice. Great gloves.

Intelligence and Curiosity-3 points. She can clean a house, and smile dreamily at Charming, but...that;s about it. The mice have to fix her dress for her. THE MICE!!!

Self-confidence and Bravery-2 points. Unlike the later princesses, Cinderella (and Snow White too) are kind of weak-willed. It takes a lot of wand-waving to convinced Cinderella that she, too, might deserve some happiness.

Respect and Kindness-10 points. She puts up with a lot, doesn't she? Very dedicated to her housework, and with minimum complaining-she gets my admiration for that. And she's nice to mice.

Prince Points-Charming is pretty flat. Does she love him because he loves her? Because she's beautiful and they match? Because he's a prince? He was pretty creative with the shoe thing. We'll give him 5 points for being inoffensive.

Brat Factor-no points lost for brat factor. Cinderella is an abused child who is given a magical chance to be loved again. She's patient and kind and pretty loveable.

Final Score: 29

Snow White

Modesty and Fashion Sense-10 points. Classic look, very sensible for scrubbing stone floors or wandering lost in the forest.

Intelligence and Curiosity-She is curious, and at least reasonably intelligent, but nothing to shout about. Give her 6 points here.

Self-confidence and Bravery-3 points. Again with the forties and fifties female ideals. She's just brave enough to sneak into a strange house when she's lost and alone and fall asleep in bed. Apparently not smart enough to realize the apple seller is scaring the wildlife and definitely not brave enough to talk to a strange prince in her courtyard. Or do anything about it either. Just hide behind the curtains and flirt.

Respect and Kindness-10 points. She inspired enough loyalty in the woodsman to convince him to lie to her wicked stepmother, and was kind enough to offer to keep house for seven strange little men in desperate need of some hygiene.

Prince Points-5 points. Again with generic prince Charming. I'm not entirely convinced that Cinderella's beau didn't call off the wedding and decide to go calling on the servant girl/princess in the next kingdom over.

Brat Factor-No brat factor here. Snow White is as sweet, obedient and kind as they come. A bit bossy, but when you're keeping house for 7 men, somebody has to lower the boom

Final Score: 34

Jasmine (from Aladdin)
Modesty and Fashion Sense-0 points. I hope Muslim mothers are as offended by this get-up as I am. It's cheap by Western standards, and in Arabia, it's the kind of outfit a harem girl would wear, not a princess. I cringe when I see these Halloween costumes coming. Ya, 'cause the problem is, my 4 year old just isn't sexy enough! ICK!

Intelligence and Curiosity-6 points. She lives in a political world, and she's sharp enough to tell that Aladdin isn't what he seems. That said, she seems content to stay in her gilded world despite her awakening to the poverty and injustice that exists outside the palace walls.

Self-confidence and Bravery-10 points. She is brave and confident. To the point of nuisance. Nothing worse than a princess who's ready to take over before her time.

Respect and Kindness-5 points. She's kind in an offhand way. It's easy to be generous when there has always been more than enough in your world. She sure does whine at her father a lot, though.

Prince Points-7 points. Aladdin's moral struggle is the plotline of the whole movie-does he lie to get what he wants, or does he tell the truth and go back to his life of poverty? He doesn't give the lies up until it whole story's falling apart around him, but he does do the right thing in the end. And Jasmine loves him because he's humble, and clever, obviously NOT just because he's a prince.

Brat Factor-MINUS 20 points. Let's see: she sneaks out of the house (twice), sends her pet tiger after suitors she's not impressed with and whines at her father nearly constantly. I would rather gouge my own eyes out than deal with her.

Final Score: 8 points


Modesty and Fashion Sense-8 points. Mu-Lan loses two points, not because she's usually dressed like a man, but because she taught my daughters that it's cool to take a sword and cut off your hair.

Intelligence and Curiosity-8 points. She thinks, but she doesn't think things through all the time. Still, she's always got an idea, a plan, and they usually work. Not bad.

Self-confidence and Bravery-10 points. To a fault. In many ways, Mu-Lan is the antithesis of her older sister princesses. She's brave, she's independent and she believes in herself. She's also very determined and tough, a hard-to-find quality in princesses these days.

Respect and Kindness-7 points. It's a point Mu-Lan struggles with, being respectful. I can relate. But she makes an honest effort to be respectful of her parents and commander. And is she kind? Yes, probably. She's more patriotic and moral than kind, but she sees what war is all about and it touches her.

Prince Points-Not a prince but a very good man, is what we see in Chang. Mu-Lan admires him first, then falls in love-a good way to do it-and he has the same experience. Chang and Mu-Lan get 10 points.

Brat Factor-MINUS 5 points for disobeying her parents and the law. Still, she had a good reason. Does it justify the whole thing? Hard to say.

Final Score: 38

Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

Modesty and Fashion Sense-9 points. She loses one for off the shoulder gown. But it does change color. I'd like to see that at the Oscars next year.

Intelligence and Curiosity-8 points. She seems smart enough, and has a great imagination. What is it with these princesses and singing to forest creatures, though? Oh well. Not smart enough to stay away from sharp objects, but to be fair, she looked a little enchanted to me.

Self-confidence and Bravery-Aurora gets all 10 points for her poise. Her life gets turned upside down (twice) on her birthday, no less, but do you hear any whining? No. She puts on her crown, cries a little, and gets ready to meet the parents that fostered her out as a baby for her own safety. Class Act.

Respect and Kindness-8 points. She's respectful of her parents and her foster-fairies, even when they're acting a little senile. She's obedient and you get the feeling she would be kind if she ever met anyone.

Prince Points-8 points for Prince Phillip. He's a gem of a guy, ready to throw out his kingdom to marry the girl he loves. And he goes up against the dragon with the help of fairies and a great sidekick horse. I like Phillip. I worry about Aurora's idealization of him, but what do I know about love at first sight?

Brat Factor—no brat factor here

Final Score: 43

Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)

Modesty and Fashion Sense-Ah, the seashells. What's a mermaid to do? And how much modesty do we expect from someone who's not completely human? She's pretty reasonably dressed once she gets on land, anyway. My major issue is with her weight. That's right...I'm concerned about poor Ariel's weightlessness. In some shots, her wrists are smaller around than her eyes. 4 points here.

Intelligence and Curiosity-3 points. Very curious, and about as smart as your average piece of coral. Gullibility is not attractive in heroines.

Self-confidence and Bravery-10 points. Diva in the making.

Respect and Kindness-0 points. Selfish, selfish, Shellfish! I mean, SELFISH! Can you think of anything she does in the whole movie to benefit anyone other than herself? Me either. And it's all the more galling because Hans Christian Anderson's original tale was about the mermaid GIVING UP her own happiness and even her life so her prince could be happy.

Prince Points-5 points. Eric seems like a decent guy. Easy to enchant with the right voice, though. And not too swift, for someone who's going to be ruling a country one day. Oh well. Maybe his last name is Charming.

Brat Factor- MINUS 20 points! Major brat factor here. She disobeys her father and goes to the witch. She ignores warnings from her friends to go after a boy who loves her because she's beautiful and sings! And in the end, after everything blows up in her face because she made a deal with the devil, SHE GETS EVERYTHING SHE WANTS!

Final Score: 2 points

Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)

Modesty and Fashion Sense-9 points. Again with the off-the-shoulder gowns. Other than that, she has a pretty classic look going. But she is French, so I suppose she should.

Intelligence and Curiosity-10 points! If you're going to be a princess, be a princess who READS! Hooray for intelligence and learning!

Self-confidence and Bravery-10 points. Brave enough to strike out on her own to save her father, to explore a mysterious castle, to offer herself as a prisoner in exchange for her father. You betcha!

Respect and Kindness-10 points. Respectful of her father and the beast, as she gets to know him. Kind to the animated furniture in the house and random villagers in her town.

Prince Points-8 points. Beast has his own deal going on, and Belle doesn't get sucked into it. She learns not to fear him, to respect him, and finally to love him. And he learns to respect and love her too. Brilliant. She doesn't even give the time of day to the "fake prince" (who among us haven't met a Gaston or two in our dating days?) but recognizes him for what he is. Well done.

Brat Factor-No brat factor.

Final Score: 49

Some things I noticed:

Except Mu-Lan, these girls are all motherless. We have five whose mothers have died, two with (evil) stepmothers, and one who was fostered out to three fairies who can't bake a cake after 16 years at homemaking. Also, they're almost all only children (except Cinderella, with the two step-sisters and Ariel, the spoiled youngest of 7). Apparently siblings aren't princessy. Then again, sharing the spotlight never is. Or maybe it's just the dead mothers. Hard to say.

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 6:10 PM :: 3 Comments:

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