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A non-definitive ranking of every Disney princess movie

If you've been craving some feel-good vibes lately, look no further. Disney princess movies have been around for almost a century now, and we still can't get enough of them. Between their beautiful visuals and empowering messages, their magic is just the right thing to get you through this year. So, sit back and relax as we give you our run-down on every princess movie Disney has produced!

13. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Princess: Snow White might not have been very interesting or dynamic of a protagonist, but her innocent, sweet nature became Disney's blueprint for years to come.

Plot: Although Snow White is a bit of a bore, the seven dwarfs she befriends make up for it with their distinct personalities, and the Evil Queen's vendetta against her adds some excitement.

Legacy: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first Disney princess movie ever, so it will always have that special distinction going for it. None of the other princesses on this list would exist without Snow White, so perhaps we ought to cut her some slack.

12. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Princess: It's hard to deduce Aurora's personality as she's only given 18 minutes of screen time. Though with her beauty and singing talents, she could *totally* snatch the Miss America title.

Plot: Through a socially-conscious lens, it's hard to see Sleeping Beauty as anything but some random man falling in love with an unconscious girl. However, the movie has hands-down one of the best villains ever (we see you, Maleficent), and Prince Phillip really goes through a lot for someone he barely knows.

Legacy: Combining Art Deco elements and classic medieval art, Sleeping Beauty is *so* pretty to look at, and it is the only Disney movie with that animation style. 

11. Pocahontas (1995)

Princess: Pocahontas isn't a princess, but she is a *Disney* princess, and an inspirational one too. She's deeply connected with nature and has loads of empathy and kindness to all she encounters, be it people or creatures.

Plot: Despite the historical inaccuracies and oversimplification, the film is a beautiful one, with a bittersweet ending that doesn't involve getting together with a man.

Legacy: Pocahontas is one of the only Disney heroines who doesn't end up with the one she loves, sending an empowering message that life is greater than just one man.

10. Brave (2012)

Princess: Merida is the only princess who couldn't care less about royalty or romance, showing her truly independent spirit. 

Plot: Rare aesthetic: A Disney princess without an evil or dead mother. In fact, Brave's plot revolves around Merida's relationship with her mom. It's a coming-of-age tale about finding a balance between duty and independence.

Legacy: Merida grows as a person and a daughter as she develops a deep understanding for her mother—a message totally worth embracing.

9. Aladdin (1992)

Princess: Princess Jasmine isn't the protagonist in the movie, so she's a little less-developed, but even as a supporting role, she's amazing. Fiery, sassy and sweet, Jasmine is an absolute baddie who will always call people out when they're trippin'.

Plot: With a hilarious genie, a pet tiger and flying carpets, Aladdin takes us on an exciting adventure that is *totally* unmatched.

Legacy: Jasmine teaches us the importance of being true to ourselves and standing up for what we believe in. Total icon.

8. Cinderella (1950)

Princess: Cinderella is the "It Girl" of Disney princesses, and her qualities are the paradigm of what's to be expected from one. She's kind to a fault, dealing with her difficult step-family with the utmost grace.

Plot: The OG rags-to-riches story, complete with mouse companions, evil stepsisters and a stunning gown transformation, Cinderella is an absolute work of art. 

Legacy: Considering Cinderella's castle is the one in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, her legacy is arguably the biggest. Plus, the movie's message, made clear in the 2015 remake—“have courage and be kind"—is *super* important, proving that generosity and femininity are just as necessary as bravery and masculine strength.

7. The Little Mermaid (1989)

Princess: Rebellious, ambitious and equipped with a head of perfectly coiffed hair and the kind of beautiful voice that evil sea monsters seek to steal for themselves, Ariel is one of the most proactive princesses out there.

Plot: Ariel is driven by her curiosity, which is clearly reflected in the plot. Even if her journey was guided by her desire for romance, it's still exciting to watch her explore and connect with new parts of the world.

Legacy: Although The Little Mermaid might come off as a little classic and traditional in values, in 1989, it was a breath of fresh air and marked the start of the Disney Renaissance. Plus, the soundtrack is *so* sing-along-able.

6. Frozen

Princess: Two royal sisters with totally opposite personalities tell the *most* unique and poignant story. Anna is feisty, bubbly and determined, whereas Elsa is independent, strong and powerful, and both are equally awesome.

Plot: The dual journeys of Anna and Elsa shine a light on their sisterly bond, and when accompanied by a talking snowman and a gasp-worthy plot twist, they weave a tale that's completely stunning. Plus, the princess saves herself in this one.

Legacy: You've probs heard "Let It Go" a gazillion times too many, but don't lie— you totally sing along too, even if it's only in your head. Frozen is a global phenomenon so popular it managed to get a full animated sequel, and for good reason too. Challenging the Disney narrative while delivering an unconventional story of true love, this movie is *def* worth melting for.

5. Moana

Princess: Although Moana may claim she's not a princess, in the words of Maui himself, if you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you are one—and Moana is a fierce and persistent princess for sure. She finds her own voice and blazes her own trail. Plus, let's not forget the fact that the ocean literally *chose* her.

Plot: Moana is fully driven by her love for her family and her people, embarking on a quest with an actual demigod to save Motunui. The two navigate obstacles across the sea, finding a little of themselves in each other to form an outstanding friendship.

Legacy: Moana is a strong, curvy girl—one of the only Disney princesses with realistic body proportions. Her character arc is more complex too, and she doesn't need a love interest. The movie sends a powerful message, encouraging girls to tap into their inner leader and take on the world in their own way.

4. Beauty and the Beast

Princess: Belle's got it all—beauty, brains and books. Facing every situation with grace, she's daring and loving enough to trade her life for her father's safety. 

Plot: A tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast gives us character development, talking objects and an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers arc that is believable and effortlessly charming.

Legacy: The stellar animation paired with a timelessly memorable soundtrack delivers the perfect "don't judge a book by its cover" message. 

3. Tangled (2010)

Princess: Rapunzel is sunny and optimistic, even though her movie is (in some ways) one of the darkest. Who else can sing about her dreams before a daunting crowd of hardened criminals? Not to mention she can bake, paint, sing and wield a mighty frying pan.

Plot: Tangled is pretty much an adventure film, a perfect blend of action, romance and a coquettish love interest with a knack for smolders. Mother Gothel is a superb villain, frighteningly manipulative and cruel, upping the suspense by a 100. And with the pandemic, we can totally relate to Rapunzel being stuck at home all the time. Also, did you know that her kingdom is named Corona? Talk about coincidence.

Legacy: Yes, the story reads a little like a damsel-in-distress situation, but honestly, who can complain when it's executed so well? Besides, we'd argue that Rapunzel saves Eugene as much as he saved her. Tangled is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, every bit full of Disney magic. Might even convince you to invest in a cast-iron skillet or two. Who knows? You might need it.

2. The Princess and the Frog

Princess: As her friends say, all Tiana does is work. No other Disney princess has a job, and Tiana has two. Needless to say, Tiana is super hard-working and doesn't give up until she gets what she wants. She's self-reliant and wholly capable of making her own dreams a reality.

Plot: So much character development packed into one movie—Tiana goes from workaholic to someone more balanced and happy, and Prince Naveen goes from a spoiled and narcissistic prince to someone willing to make sacrifices for the woman he loves.

Legacy: Tiana is the first and only Black Disney protagonist, and she's definitely a strong and admirable one. Animal sidekicks Ray and Louis, the jazz music and the drool-worthy Cajun and Creole treats make the film a truly magical experience. Seriously, Tiana's beignets are to *die* for.

1. Mulan

Princess: Mulan is unique in the sense that she's neither royalty nor does she marry into it, but her countless acts of heroism make her just as good as any Disney princess. The epitome of selflessness, Mulan faces adversaries with her quick wit and incredible strength, all in the name of honor and family. Oh, and she saved the entirety of China.

Plot: A hero's journey, through and through, Mulan checks all the boxes—family, friendship, romance and battle scenes that will get your heart racing. Mushu, Cri-kee and Mulan's first awkward blunders as Ping make the story endlessly entertaining.

Legacy: Representation matters, and Mulan def delivers on that front. She's an exceptional role model for *everyone*, especially young women, Asian-American girls and gender non-conforming individuals. Her story proves that princesses aren't always ballgowns and love songs and that girls are every bit as strong and confident as any man—setting the stage for a feminist future for years to come.

Who is your fave Disney princess? Tell us on Instagram at @girlslifemag!

All GIFS via GIPHY I Slider image: taijavigilia.tumblr.com

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by Sophia Zhang | 3/27/2021
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