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Dad Vibe Guide to Princesses…

We want to raise strong, resilient, confident girls.

As a dad, I also want my daughter to be assertive and tough, maybe even a little feisty.   I want her to stand up for herself and make great choices.

We, as dads and moms, are the best possible role models available.  Our values will be observed, experienced, and hopefully modeled. 

But when it’s movie night, our daughters may look to other role models for values and dreams.  If you are not up on your princesses, I hope this list serves as your cheat sheet for princess movies with STRONG female leads.

Not all princesses are created equal and so I am ranking them, as a father, based on what kind of a role model they provide for my little girl.

Dads have a huge role to play in strengthening body image in daughters.  So who you root for will carry great ‘weight’!

Basically – when it comes to Princesses — 5 rock and 5 suck.


  • Ariel (the Little Mermaid)
  • Cinderella
  • Snow White
  • Jasmine (from Aladdin)
  • Sleeping Beauty

The BEST –

  • Merida (from Brave)
  • Mulan
  • Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)
  • Tiana (from the Princess and the Frog)
  • Rapunzel (from Tangled)

With me so far?    We can debate later, just hear me out…

I am a dad and I look at these princesses as female images that my daughter may try to imitate.  The popular Disney/Pixar princesses are evolving over time and are a reflection of society’s biases and expectations surrounding females from body image to assertiveness.   

Here are my thoughts on the BEST princesses…

I rank Merida from Disney’s BRAVE as the most awesome princess.  She stands up for herself, believes in her own skills and abilities, doesn’t need self esteem boosts from any man, and doesn’t have the hourglass figure of past princesses.  Plus, she thrives with the loving support of her father who also believes in her and urges her to take risks.


Mulan also rocks!  She challenges society’s gender roles and, in the process, saves all the key men in this movie – her father, the emperor, and the leader of the army.  Mulan is strong, tough, determined, and will kick the crap out of those that stand in her way.  You go Girl (is that still even cool to say? – yikes I’m old…)

Belle from Beauty and the Beast is currently my daughter’s favourite and I am just fine with that.  I like her too.   She is smart, caring, and doesn’t fall for the town’s most eligible and obnoxiously narcissistic moron Gaston.  Belle doesn’t put up with being treated badly (she leaves the beast early on) and also doesn’t care what people think.  Her greatest trait may be that she is willing to look past exterior appearances for what is on the inside.  

Tiana (from the Princess and the Frog) is the only princess with killer ambition.  Ambition and the ability to take care of ones self needs to rank higher than finding love. I want my daughter to be proud and confident of her abilities, skills and career one day.  Not to be looking for confidence and validation by finding love or the right man to take care of her.  Tiana is smart, hard-working and much more of a pioneer than a princess.  Everything good in her life comes from her hard work.  She follows her dreams and her passions AND starts a business .  How awesome is that?   

My final awesome princess is Rapunzel (Tangled).  A common theme emerges here again ; she doesn’t need to be rescued by anyone.   Although a case could be made that she stays confined in that castle a little too long, Rapunzel is fearless and fierce (and deadly with a frying pan).   She cares little about her hair and appearance and is like a female MacGyver with her resourcefulness.   I think she is Disney’s most obvious attempt to get with the times and provide better role models for young girls.

So, along with Princess Leia and Robert Munsch’s “Paperbag Princess”, these are the top princesses that I hope my daughter will use as her role models for life.

The following princesses did not make the cut in the role model department (ie. these ones stink). 

Sleeping Beauty is easily one of the worst.  Fine, in her day she was lovely and kind, but she is not interesting at all and is super naïve.  Her worst trait by far for me is that she never made any choices for herself. Her life was dictated by others.  My common knock against the princess mentality. 

Snow White ranks killer low for me too, sure she is happy and nice to animals at all, but what else does she do?  Nothing.  Oh she befriends 7 weird little dudes, that is definite no-no for my daughter.    

Cinderella?  Yuck.  She just accepts her crappy life and has to wait for a man to come and save her from her crappy existence… No thanks…

Jasmine, although she ranks high on college humour websites for being the ‘hottest Disney princess; I do not rank her high at all.  I do admire her scepticism of marriage and for following her heart and falling in love outside her ‘income bracket’ with a street rat.  However, she is dressed way too sexy and even uses that appeal to seduce creepy Jafar – nope, my daughter will use her brain not her body to advance in this world.

That brings us to Ariel, in my humble opinion, the WORST PRINCESS role model available.   While not listening to her father or following simple family rules, this 16 year old airhead falls in love and trades everything (including her voice and her sweet mermaid tail) for a boy she sees playing a flute on a boat for 10 seconds.  I don’t want my daughter following some wannabe mulletted rockstar! 

To quote Tina Fey’s “A Prayer for my Daughter”, “May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.”

Beware of Ariel: she appears sweet and lovely, but her actions and values are dangerous!

Oh, wondering about Pocahantas?  Well, she is my Switzerland; kinda sitting in the middle.  I must give ‘Props’ (cool kids still say this?) to Poca as she is brave, loves nature, doesn’t need saving and does follow something bigger than love. She is cool and would be number 6 on my list, but not above my top 5, those 5 ladies are solid, sassy, and awesome. 

  • So what do you think?  — agree or disagree?  

  • What role models do you want for your little girl? 

  • Do you need to defend your favourite princess?  Let the Ariel supporters line up and give us your best… I still say she stinks. 

I would love a lively debate – these princesses are everywhere, spreading their influence like a weed or virus… who do you want your daughter to hang her star on???

Please add your comments below on my blog ….

Speaking of princesses,

The 7th Annual Father Daughter Dance is happening right here in Kelowna on May 5 

click for all the details…

151 dads came last year and this event will sell out again this year for sure!

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Merida and I at Disney 2013 (she did not break my finger…)

She was awesome and a real treat to meet my #1!!!

My daughter Jack met her favourite too!




  • Ken Mar 15, 2013 Reply

    I like your blog but the princesses you talk about are for younger girls, like your daughters age. I think that the princesses you discuss are considerably less infuencial then the princesses that influence the older, 12 to 16 year old girls. When my daughter was younger, I did not worry about which princess infuenced her. Now that my daughter is 12, I try to encourage her to follow the good actresses in the movie they are watching. At about 11 years old, she started to realize what was real and who she wanted to be like in real life. Right now she is liking the girl who won the Hunger Games in the Hunger Games movie. Also, from movies like the LIghtning Thief, she realizes that all people that appear to be helping you are actually trying to get you killed!
    In closing, if your daughter wants to watch a movie with a princess or a pistol carrying zombie, watch it with her. Seriously, drop the computer and paper and just watch it. Then afterwards you can both discuss the good and the bad. I think that you can learn something from every movie, even if it has ARIEL!

    • Jeff Apr 2, 2013 Reply

      Hey Ken!!!
      Yes — you are so correct! With this piece, I wanted to focus in on all the princesses that our young daughters are surrounded by daily — I quick guide for dads to know who to root for (in case they have not had a chance to watch all the movies) — although my own father has commented on this article by saying – how much time do you have to watch and critique all these princesses (it was research and time spent with my children 🙂 —
      But yes, I could update this for older girls and who they should root for… who influences them?
      Twilight vs. Hunger Games — Katniss would win everytime — same criteria — she dictates her own future as should our daughters…
      Thanks again for your thoughts!

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