I used to have a hard time answering when people asked me “who’s your favorite Disney princess?”. The truth was I never really had a favorite Disney princess, because I never really liked Disney princesses. The reason was simple: because I couldn’t really identify with them for some reason. Sometimes, just to stop people from asking I would say that Belle was my favorite just because she liked to read.
Until I saw Moana.
First of all, the movie itself was all around entertaining. Great writing. Beautiful animation. Amazing music. Funny. Heartwarming. Emotional. All the adjectives that could describe a great movie.
But more importantly, it was finally a movie of a Disney princess/heroine that I had been looking for, a character that I could resonate with on so many aspects.
I loved that they start the story with younger Moana. How they told the story of her upbringing, being overly protected by their parents, despite her having a great desire to explore what’s out there. They did have great expectations from her, because she was going to be the chief anyway. But there was still this restriction put on her by her parents that confined here within the reef surrounding her island. I recognized all of it all too well, because this was what my childhood was like. Being an only child and a daughter, my parents set a protective boundaries that I detested. Not many people know, but I taught myself how to swim and ride a bike because my parents never allowed me to do those things!
Back to Moana. I loved that the restriction put on her did not stop her from doing her thing. She was going to be the next chief and she knew she had what it took to be a leader. The day she was training to be a chief, she knew exactly what to do, and she made decision like she’s been doing it all her life. She was clearheaded but compassionate, gentle but strong. Moana was a natural leader.
She was strong. And I mean both emotionally and physically strong. She demonstrated her strength throughout the film, but what stood out for me was when she climbed the hell out of the cave that Maui left her in. In most films, filmmakers would probably let her get stuck in the cave until some miracle or someone comes to save her. But instead, they made her safe herself because she was just physically capable of enduring the resistance that Maui put in her ways.
I lived for Moana’s figure. I was soooooooooo happy that the filmmakers decided to give her a human body, not the unrealistic kind of body with unusually small waist, thin long arms and legs that a Disney princess usually has. A lot of girls were watching and would be watching this movie. I think it is very important that they see a leading role that promotes body positivity.
That scene when Moana and Maui faced the Kakamoras? I died when Moana said “coconuts” and then kicked their butts. For me personally, the Kakamora is a metaphor for all the jackasses in the world. They are many and they are loud, but they really have nothing inside.
Last but not least, Moana was a story of a princess who did not spend a second pining for a prince in the movie. Let’s all take a moment of silence for the Bechdel Test that died after being murdered by Moana. I was glad that the filmmakers did not give Moana a love interest in this film. Because girls do not actually spend all their time thinking about when their prince charming will come. We have many other things to worry about like running the world or saving it. And when we’re on a mission like that, it’s just so hard to find time thinking about guys. Previous Disney princess movies will fail the Bechdel Test miserably, because they always portray the princess as a damsel in distress, someone who is always waiting for a prince. And although the more recent ones have stronger princess characters, they are portrayed as incomplete if they don’t have a prince by their side.
As is with other film characters, Moana is fictional. But even so, it is still a big deal to have girls being portrayed as multidimensional characters in movies. We need more role models of strong independent girls in movies. I am just too tired of seeing female characters being helpless and powerless. It just further perpetuates the stereotype of women being inferior when we are supposed to be debunking it.
Now that Disney and other big studios know that they obviously can capitalize on girl power, I hope they do it more and do it often!