Debate over Princess Leia becoming a Disney Princess

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Hannah Dear

Princess Leia is the ultimate Disney princess

BY DANIEL BRNJIC (’17)

Princess Leia has been the flower child of sci-fi geeks for a generation. She is an attractive and strong character who champions both charm and ruthlessness. Since the first Star Wars in the 1980’s Princess Leia has appealed to both men and women. Boys have an easy time looking at the attractive Princess as she kills clones, and steals Han Solo’s heart. Girls love her strong demeanor and appreciate the love story between her and Han.

Now that Disney owns Star Wars the debate about her being a Disney Princess has begun and I don’t understand why. She is one of the few Disney characters that all middle school boys have the hots for. What better way for Disney to bridge the gender gap by using a Princess who isn’t a cartoon and looks good in a bikini (episode 6). Princess Leia even has the title of Princess. As a young lad I had only watched one “Star Wars” movie but I never forgot Leia in her golden bikini. If Disney wanted to make some major money, they should take Leia and run.

Some may argue that using Leia this way is objectifying her, but I do not think that Carrie Fisher would mind her younger self being plastered on Disney products. Let’s not forget that Leia is the ultimate Princess, she fights for what she believes and loves giving others orders. Women should admire her independent spirit that guides her through the Star Wars saga. Honestly I would be sexist to ban Leia from the Princess club because she does not fit the royal housewife profile that revolves around the Disney Princesses.

Princess Leia does not need to be a Disney princess

BY HANNAH DEAR (’17)

Princess Leia has casually been considered to be the newest Disney princess after Disney bought out Lucasfilm. This is not official; only a casual opinion. Leia Organa is a strong, independent woman who was willing to sacrifice her own safety for her loved ones. She is essentially carrying the entire Star Wars original trilogy because Luke Skywalker is whiny and Han Solo is never sure which side he is on. Leia is one of the strongest female characters ever created in cinematic history.

Disney princesses, on the other hand, are largely not considered to be strong females. Snow White is a fourteen year old who falls in love with the first man she sees and then lives with seven men who save her in the end. She does nothing but bake pies and clean. Sleeping Beauty is all about a sixteen year old princess who also falls in love with the first man she sees and then sleeps while waiting for him to save her. And Cinderella? She is a girl who is too afraid to stand up for herself and instead waits for some prince to determine her worth. Princess Leia does not belong among these ranks.

There are some strong Disney princesses. Pocahontas is portrayed as a young woman who saves her tribe and unites them with the settlers at Jamestown. However, this is a completely different picture of what really happened with Pocahontas. Instead, she was used to pretend that the two people groups were united and then was kidnapped and taken to England where she died from bad air and mistreatment. Pocahontas may be considered a strong, independent woman like Princess Leia, but it is a misguided picture of Native American history. Mulan is another strong Disney Princess. Nevertheless, she was not allowed to save China as a girl. Instead, she was scorned because she was not a boy. Princess Leia accepted her standing as a girl among the Galactic Senate and saved the galaxy anyway.

Through a simple comparison of Princess Leia to the certified Disney princesses, it is obvious that she is on an entirely different level than the others. Because of this, she does not need the validation of becoming an “official” Disney princess. The title of “princess” does not make someone a Disney princess. Princesses are determined by how they fit among the others. Mulan was never a princess, only an army general’s wife. Pocahontas was not a princess but a chief’s daughter. This demonstrates how the label of “princess” does not make a character a Disney princess.

Aside from the various personality differences between Princess Leia and the Disney princesses, there is the idea that she would be animated if she became a Disney princess. This is not inherently a bad thing. Animation has grown tremendously in the past decade or so. However, it is the way that Disney princesses are drawn that becomes problematic. These characters, many of whom are sixteen or younger, are portrayed as fully grown young women with perfect hourglass figures. The tiny waists on Disney princesses are not realistic at all. Disney is only getting worse. Anna and Elsa are featured in Frozen with the smallest of waists. Does it make sense to subject the character of Princess Leia to this? Princess Leia is the perfect role model for young girls because she is strong, independent, and real while Disney princesses are usually tiny figures who chase after men. The character has already been objectified by men when Carrie Fisher was forced to wear the infamous slave outfit. The late Carrie Fisher herself has stood up against this obscene act of men by saying, “Listen! I am not a sex symbol… You should fight for your outfit. Don’t be a slave like I was.” It is ridiculous that after Fisher’s death that we would continue to objectify her character by subjecting her to the harsh constructs of Disney animation.
Princess Leia is so much different than the existing Disney princesses. She is stronger, smarter, and a real role model. Her character does not need the validation that being a Disney princess would give her. I understand that many simply want to honor Carrie Fisher through this, but it is a higher honor to stand alone as a Disney heroine instead of a Disney princess.