I’ve always loved Disney. Hell, I grew up with it, and in doing so I gained many fantasy-based role models. The ladies of Disney always seem to stand for something and I believe that within each of them are traits every girl should develop as they grow and learn in their young lives and beyond.
I only really added one “villain” to this list as I will most likely be making a Top 10 Disney Villains list. That being said, read on and enjoy!
10. Demona (Gargoyles)
I don’t know about you, but Gargoyles was quite possibly one of the most underrated cartoon shows of my childhood. It had a plot and atmosphere that you just didn’t see everyday in kids content. The setting of the show relied a great deal on the main characters, but Demona had to be the coolest character of the show. Whether in gargoyle or human form, this villainous bombshell will not tolerate betrayal of any kind and is not one to be trifled with. Hell hath no fury like a gargoyle scorned; especially if that gargoyle’s name just happens to be Demona.
9. Minnie Mouse
Who better to help open this list than the classic of all classics? First appearing in Steamboat Willie, she was also first voiced by Walt Disney himself! The lovely girlfriend of the face of Disney, Mickey Mouse, she has a habit of finding herself in distress, but she is clever, classy and adorable, and is more than capable of handling herself. Still, Minnie is a true pioneer for the Disney ideal of true love; no matter what happens, her beloved Mickey is her love, her best friend, and her hero.
8. Kim Possible (Kim Possible)
What kid didn’t watch and adore KP? She’s gorgeous, talented, intelligent and relate-able. Leading an exciting double-life, she is a cheer-leading captain and a secret agent who has saved the world time and time again while still facing all the challenges of a junior/senior high school girl. She’s a walking lethal weapon with a heart of gold; good luck not falling for this teen idol!
7. Pocahontas (Pocahontas)
If there’s one thing that gets my attention, it’s someone with personality and heart. After all, even if everyone else is against you, you should always stand for something. Pocahontas was a fantastic example of a powerful, independent woman who would not stand for something she felt was wrong. It’s just that sort of zeal and inner strength that makes her stand out. That, and what outdoorsy girl didn’t wish she could just run barefoot through the woods and jump off waterfalls (without dying at the end)?
6. Megara (Hercules)
A gorgeous, independent, sarcastic Disney character who has complex emotions and a sharp wit? Yes, please! Megara isn’t your typical Disney gal; even Pegasus disliked her at the beginning. She had the heart of a woman betrayed, and after giving her soul to save the life of her lover, he left her for another woman, condemning her to needlessly belong to the wicked god of the underworld, Hades. This is Disney, right? That’s pretty deep for a Disney character. Megara still does what she can in the end to undo the damage done and is finally able to move on to a happier life with Hercules. She’s a damsel, she’s in distress, and she can handle this; have a nice day!
5. Amelia (Treasure Planet)
Quite possibly the most underrated heroine on this list, Captain Amelia of the R.L.S. Legacy, is the finest captain you’ve never heard of. This feline-like powerhouse holds an air of command and respect wherever she goes and always maintains the dignity of a queen. While she enjoys the occasional cup of tea, she’s a fantastic shot, an agile fighter, and a true iron lady in her own right. You don’t see ladies of this caliber in the media these days, so I think Captain Amelia deserves far more recognition.
4. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
In classic Disney heroine fashion, Belle yearns for adventure; for love; for more. Don’t we all? Well, ‘more’ has a habit of finding our Disney girls, but not always in the way that they expect. Belle wound up with more than she bargained for when she met the Beast. They had a rocky start, but this spunky bookworm still saw the beauty in him that even he did not believe to exist. It takes a special woman indeed who can bring out the best in someone when faced with the sting adversity from the people of her hometown. She’s strong inside and out, sharp as a whip, courageous when she must be, and relateable to boot. She’s got no problem telling off Gaston, and reminds all of us that everyone deserves to be given a chance before judgment.
3. Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Not many Disney girls can pull off this much sass and make it look good, but Esmeralda has no problem achieving this feat. With more confidence than most of us could muster up in a lifetime, she’s not afraid to speak up against the masses when something is wrong, and she certainly will have no qualms in telling you where to go and how to get there. This gypsy girl believes in justice above all things and I think every strong woman has a little Esmeralda in her. How about a little appreciation for the girl who reminded us to stand up for what’s right, and to have courage?
2. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
I’m going to be honest here, Tiana has to be one of my absolute favourite Disney princesses simply for what her character and story brought to the metaphorical table. Throughout the years, Disney has taught us many things; one common trend being that ‘wishes can come true.’ Tiana was the hard-working powerhouse that graced the big screens with the second half of that message. Wishes can comes true; if you make it happen! Hard work, perseverance, and self-reliance can be hard to find these days, but they don’t get more independent than Tiana. Furthermore, have you seen that dress of hers? Simply stunning!
1. Mulan (Mulan)
Finally, we have Mulan! Where does one begin with her? She had a hard time fitting into the stereotypes of a life already decided for her. While she gives it the good old college try, she is scorned and brushed off by all, including her own family! When the huns invade China, however, Mulan knows her father will be drafted. With his health and physical constitution, she knows he will not return alive. So what does she do? She cuts her hair, steals his armour, and leaves to fight in the war in his stead. She not only had to worry about death upon the battlefield, but death upon being discovered as a woman! She almost single-handedly takes out the entire hun army, and alongside her comrades and her lover-boy, Shang, succeeds in saving China and its emperor from death and despair. She is a woman worthy of respect and awe. Such courage is rare, even in fiction, and will not be overlooked! Now that’s a girl worth fighting for.