Moana, Maui, Hei Hei, and Pua set sail to save the world!

“Make way! Make way!” There’s a new Disney Princess in town! Moana is the story of an adventurous young woman of the same name. The daughter of the village chief, she is torn between her love for her village and her desire to sail across the sea. When the life of her island and her people are threatened, Moana is chosen by the ocean to embark on a journey to stop a powerful darkness brought on centuries before when the demigod Maui stole the legendary, life-creating heart of the Mother Island. Together, Moana and Maui embark on an epic adventure to restore the Heart of Te Fiti, battling fabled creatures and racing the clock to save not only her island but the world.

Like many nineties babies, I grew up in the Disney Renaissance, a decade starting in 1989 that contained some of Disney’s most successful, most loved, and most magical movies. My life was (and to be honest, still is) filled with these wonderful Disney princesses: strong, smart, adventurous women that taught me to follow my heart and fight for what I believe in. Naturally, when I heard Disney was releasing a new Disney Princess movie in November 2016, I was overjoyed. Moana not only lived up to my high Disney-nerd standards, but honored the tradition and idea of the Disney Princess while simultaneously changing their future forever.

Like many Disney heroines before her, Moana is kind, stubborn, and desperately wants to find her own “adventure in the great, wide somewhere” (ten pixie dust points to whoever gets that reference). Like those who came before her, she challenges preconceived notions and stereotypes of what a Disney Princess should be. Moana is not only Disney’s first princess inspired by Polynesian culture, but, unlike her predecessors, she has natural, curly hair, a realistic waistline, and no love interest. Last year, before Moana was released, I attended a panel that discussed the history of Disney princesses. The woman leading the panel, a super nerd and mother of a beautiful little girl, shared that when she saw the first images of Moana, she cried because there was finally a princess that looked like her, and there would be a princess to whom her daughter could identify and connect.

These new Disney Princesses made headlines for being fiercer and more independent than the originals. Like them, Moana is making headlines for ushering in a new generation of modern Disney heroines: strong, beautiful, and realistic; without a prince. Moana is a¬†movie that celebrates an amazing, rich culture. It’s a story that teaches girls to follow their dreams, fight for what they believe in, and see how far they can go.

-Madison Becker
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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