*This article was originally published on HerCampus Western Ontario*
Most of us grew upwatching Ariel give away her voice and Aurora await her prince to wake her with true love’s kiss. While it’s a romantic notion, looking back on those films is disappointing. The female characters are always waiting to be saved, they are passive. While I believe that Belle was one of the most exciting Disney princesses as she saved her father, and was active in building a relationship with the Beast, she was not that different than the others.
While we still have a long wait until the live action Mulan remake (now, she was a girl we could aspire to be!) the Beauty and the Beast remake is looking better and better. As soon as Emma Watson was cast for the lead role, I was thrilled. Emma is a woman I look up to, especially since she began her He for She campaign for women’s rights. However I didn’t know what to expect from Emma as a Disney princess. It seems that the feminism that Emma brings to her daily life is translating to this film adaption.
In the movie posters for the new film, Belle is not wearing a corset, instead Emma’s natural body shape is clear, something much more attainable and realistic for little girls, and ourselves, to see. Emma has not stopped there, mentioning in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Belle’s wardrobe will be changing to reflect the practicality of the character. This means no running around in tiny shoes, but rather boots. It would be rather difficult to ride Phillip (her horse) in flats.
Emma also went on to say “In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle, I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”
Belle will be the first Disney princess with a job other than cooking and cleaning, and not just a job, a craft that is seen as being stereotypically masculine. This shows young girls that girls can be whatever they want to be, including anything in the STEM fields.
It seems as though all of the challenges that we would see in the traditional Disney princess are coming from Emma herself. In other words, a woman who wants to change the expected and is able to subvert the masculine oppression we see in princess movies. I am so excited to see how Emma’s changes to a classic Disney character play out on the big screen. If only we didn’t have to wait until March.