Can I tell you a secret? I’m actually a pretty big Disney fan.
I know that nowadays we look back on the old Disney princess movies and say how un-feminist they are, but I think that’s a bit of an over-generalization. None of the princesses actually wait around passively for a rescuer (unless you count Sleeping Beauty, but come on. She was in a magic-induced coma). Most are very active in pursuing their dreams. And yet the vision of them as passive remains.
I think this is due to one simple factor:
“The Dream that You Wish Will Come True”
Each of the Disney princesses – including Tiana – wishes for her dream to come true. And though all of them – not just Tiana – work for that dream as well, somehow that part gets forgotten. The spotlight is instead cast on the wishing/dreaming element as though it were the only part of their characters.
But it’s the belief that dreams will come true that I want to defend today. Walt Disney (see: one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs ever) was a big believer that faith in one’s dreams will make them real. And his financial success was no simple stroke of luck. Whether you love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit he was a ridiculously tenacious, hardworking businessman. So why did he say he saw himself as Cinderella? The Disney princess most degraded for her supposed passivity and reliance on miracles?
When Wishes and Hard Work Come Together
Screenprism explains the interconnectedness of Cinderella’s hard work and her belief in her dreams.
In a nutshell, Cinderella presented the same message that The Princess and the Frog spelled out decades later: If you work hard and have unshakable faith in your dreams, they’ll come true.
Why Believing in Dreams is Vital to Success
As any good financial coach will tell you, achieving your goals requires more than just working hard. You have got to have rock-solid belief in the fact that, if you stay the course and never let doubt lead you astray, your dreams will come true. Walt Disney believed this fully, and that message is evident in most of his films. Not convinced? Let me show you.
The Little Mermaid
Ariel wants to be a human. For years before the movie opens, she dreams about being human. She spends hours in her grotto wishing for the life she wants. And, though she doesn’t seem to know how becoming human would be possible, she does what she can by collecting every human artifact she can find, and learning all she can about human culture. After meeting Prince Eric, she finds the determination to make her dream come true (even though she makes some pretty bad choices trying to get there).
Beauty and the Beast
Belle wants a life of adventure outside her little town, and to find someone who understands her for who she is, rather than seeing her as the town oddball. Although fate can be thanked for the circumstances that lead her to the Beast’s castle, it’s her unyielding determination and refusal to be cowed or manipulated, as well as her unwavering belief that life holds something wonderful for her that wins over the Beast, leading to her happily ever after.
Jasmine knows she wants the freedom to choose her own life, and actually runs away to do it. Even when she’s back in the palace, she continues to stand up for herself, shaming the Sultan, Aladdin, and Jafar for continuing to decide her future. It’s her steadfast insistence, not Aladdin’s antics, that finally convinces her father to allow her to marry whomever she wants.
The Princess and the Frog
Though not as maligned as the earlier princesses, I want to include Tiana here as well. She’s the first Disney princess to make establishing capitol one of her main goals. She dreams of opening a restaurant, and works toward that with a single-mindedness that’s inspiring. But, due to the ever-present injustice in the world, even she needs a little help from faith and miracles to obtain her dream.
The Value of Believing
Are there problems with the princesses and their stories? Of course. But I think as a culture we’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we pretend that the faith, determination, and perseverance to believe in one’s dreams aren’t just as important as clocking in every day for the 9-5. The Disney princesses (excepting perhaps Snow White and Aurora) know what they want and hold on to their dreams as if their lives depend on them. They make difficult choices to obtain their goals, and follow through with them until the end.
Ultimately it’s their earnest belief that their dreams will come true that leads to their happy endings. Even when all seems lost, none of our heroines give up. They’re convinced that if they just keep going, their dreams will come true. That’s the message that Walt Disney shared.
If you want financial success (as well as any other kind of success), you’ve got to take the princess’ message to heart:
“If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”