Moana: a princess to idolize.

The most recent Disney princess movies have caused feminists to rejoice as Disney is finally moving in a more progressive direction. The newer princesses, Merida from Brave, Anna and Elsa from Frozen and Moana, highlight just how reflective Disney is of modern attitudes towards women, as damsels in distress are replaced with strong, independent women.

While Brave and Frozen have made noteworthy steps, Moana is the most feminist new age Disney princess. Moana is the story of a young girl, the daughter of the island chief, who sails across the ocean to find Maui, a Demi-god, to convince him to restore the heart of Te Fiti, to save her island. Moana was chosen by the ocean to cross the physical barrier of the reef and ultimately crosses the psychological barrier her own self-doubt poses.

Five reasons Moana is an unapologetic feminist film:

  1. It has an incredibly powerful and self-reliant female lead. Not only does Moana not need a man, she does what men, including her father and Maui, feared to do.
  2. It is the only Disney princess movie not to have a love interest which is a HUGE step forward for Disney. Unlike other Disney movies, romantic love is not even a subplot in Moana. Moana’s love is for her island, her people and her family, not a strong male character.
  3. Moana has strong bonds with other women in her life – primarily her mother and grandmother. Often female characters are pitted against each other in the characteristic evil stepmother vs. good stepdaughter relationship. Here, it is the female relationships that allow Moana to do the unthinkable and cross the reef to save her people. While Moana’s father forbids her from going, her mother helps her pack and the spirit of her grandmother guides her safely across the reef and is there when Moana’s self-doubt sets in later in the movie.
  4. Moana is a more representative princess. While all Disney princess seems to have unbelievable tiny waists and long sinewy limbs, Moana’s body type has more average proportions. Moana’s Polynesian heritage also means children of different races find Moana more representative. Being a more accessible figure helps to minimize negative effects of having solely white, unattainably sized Disney princesses.
  5. Moana is not just a princess, she is a leader in her own right. Not only will she become chief of her island one day, but she actively leaves the island to save it, when others are afraid. Ultimately, she returns her people to their original way of life as voyagers.

The new type of Disney princess that Moana embodies bodes well for encouraging young girls to be strong, independent leaders. Hopefully following her example, a generation of young girls will be shattering the glass ceiling once and for all.

Read more about Moana being a feminist princess and whether this is necessarily a good thing at:

– Tia Shah
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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