Long before Netflix existed, I was binge-watching Cinderella as the older sister of a Disney-obsessed sibling. (Okay, I was also into it.) Right after the moment "Happily Ever After" scrolled across the screen, I would pop out the tape and put it in our VHS rewinder. Then, we’d shove it back into the VCR and settle down to watch Cindy's rags-to riches-transformation all over again.
My fond memories of that era have since been overwritten by the realization that all those princess narratives may not have had the most positive impact on our young brains. Earlier this year, Refinery29 readers told us about their favorite Disney princesses: Coming in first place was the ass-kicking Mulan, followed by the intelligent Belle, and then, the curious Ariel. This trio stands apart from the rest of the bunch because of their strength, independence, and drive. But they also wound up with their own princes charming. In the end, were they really good role models for little girls?
I don’t have a fully formed answer to that. Aside from their role-model status, though, I’m wondering just how relatable these characters were. So as a self-described millennial cynic, I decided to consider whether or not seven of the Disney Princesses lead post-fairy-tale ending lives I would actually want to lead. I evaluated their existence based on wardrobe (because clothes tell a lot about a woman), squad (trustworthy sidekicks are crucial), and the presence of an arch frenemy (Haven't we all dealt with someone who has been inherently evil?). I'm putting their love interests aside (Beast is least relatable bae, obvi), because this is about the women and their lives.
Let's see how they fairest of them all really fared.