Real women who should most definitely be made into Disney princesses
We all love our Disney princesses, don’t we? To this day, my favorite birthday cake is the Cinderella cake from my childhood. I’m not quite sure how old I turned that year, but I’ll never forget the white plastic stallions pulling Cinderella’s coach through frosted buttercream. In those days, Disney princesses had an exceptional talent for one thing: being rescued by Prince Charming. Make no mistake, things have changed. The last few Disney princesses have been a much different type of lady, and the next princess in Disney’s lineup — Moana — is thankfully following in these more feminist footsteps. Like Pocahontas before her, Moana is also (sort of) based on an actual person.
While I know that Disney usually mashes up fact, legend, and fiction to create their characters, I love the idea of a living, breathing, kickass Disney princess. I want more movie princesses based off women who were so incredible IRL that it’d be a sin not to make a movies about them. With that in mind, here are five women from history who would be great additions to Disney’s line-up. All of them are real. All of them are royal. And all of them are amazing role models. Are you taking notes, Disney?
Queen Seondeok of Sill
Seondeok of Silla reigned as queen of one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea from 632 to 647. She was the first female ruler in Korean history and only the second female sovereign in the entirety of East Asia. She was passionate about art and literature, and the kingdom of Silla experienced something of a renaissance under her rule.
Even though she ruled during a period of warfare, she worked uber hard to end poverty among her subjects. She also built the Cheomseongdae, or “Star-Gazing Tower,” one of the first star observatories in the world. Aside from making huge bounds for gender bias, art, and discovery (as if that weren’t enough), Queen Seondeok also helped to more closely unite the three kingdoms of Korea. She never married and never had children, but she was a powerful lady in a time when there were not a lot of powerful ladies. Seondeok was followed on the throne by another female leader, her cousin, Queen Jindeok. Sounds like Disney princess fodder to me.
The sister to a great Apache chief, Lozen fought alongside Geronimo and was known as a “shield to her people” and the most famous of the Apache Warrior Women. In addition to being a badass warrior, she was a shaman and a prophetess who could predict the location of her enemies by chanting the following prayer to the Ussen, the supreme diety of the Apaches:
Upon this earth
On which we live
Ussen has Power
This Power is mine
For locating the enemy.
I search for that Enemy
Which only Ussen the Great
Can show to me.
Lozen never married and spent the last years of her life negotiating for peace.
As the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut reigned longer than any other woman in Egypt’s long history (ps she also became queen at age 12). Egyptologist James Henry Breasted even called her “the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.” After the death of her husband, she not only ruled the country all on her own for over a decade, but she was also considered one of Egypt’s most successful monarchs. She ran successful military campaigns, established trade with other countries, oversaw building projects, and led an expedition to the Land of Punt. And on the warm and fuzzy front, Hatshepsut also opened the first documented public zoo. You know, in all her spare time.
To this day, Empress Wu Zetian, who ruled from 690 to 705, is the only female sovereign in Chinese history. There’s even an entire dynasty named after her. The Chinese empire experienced huge expansion under her rule, and she’s also known for her support of Taoism, Buddhism, education, and literature. She even ordered Confucian scholars to write kickass biographies of heroic women in China’s history. She felt so strongly about this pet project that the scholars who refused were buried alive.
Rani Lakshmi Bai
As cracked.com says, “Rani Lakshmi Bai had two things in common with most Disney princesses: a dead mother and spunk.” She was the rani, or queen, of the Jhansi State in India and when her husband died, the British government moved in and tried to seize Jhansi’s lands. Rani Lakshmibai refused to go down without a fight — this was all taking place during the 19th century, mind you.
Proficient in swordsmanship, archery and shooting, she became a freedom fighter for her country. Ever the multi-tasker, she even went into battle with her infant son strapped to her back. Known as India’s Joan of Arc, the British referred to her as “the most dangerous of all Indian leaders.”
So Disney, how about it?