14 Reasons Why Moana Is The Best Disney Princess
The absolute greatest, hands down.
As a Pacific Islander, I was beyond excited when I first heard about
Moana. Our first Polynesian princess! But I was still a little apprehensive. After all, Disney doesn't exactly have a stellar record with strong female characters or portraying other cultures accurately.
But after watching the movie, I was blown away! Even though the film combines the cultures of many Pacific islands, it stays true to our spirit. And best of all, Moana is a total badass! Years later, she's still my favorite Disney princess, and here's why:
There's no romantic love interest.
Some Disney princesses like Cinderella and Snow White rely on a man to save them. Other princesses like Ariel specifically set out to find a man. And some, like Mulan, have awesome adventures, just to end up with a man at the end. But Moana is special, because she don't need no man! She's on her own journey to figure out who she is and her place in the world. It's so important for little kids to have heroines like her to look up to, so they realize that romantic love isn't the only kind of love worth having. Moana's adventure is all about love for her family, her home, her way of life, and ultimately, herself.
She's the perfect example of female empowerment.
Despite her dad's reluctance to let her into the ocean, Moana listens to her heart and stands up for what she believes in. She ends up saving her family, Motunui, and all the islands of the South Pacific! She proves that she has what it takes to lead her people. Moana is a wonderful role model for young girls because she teaches them that they can accomplish their goals even if others doubt them.
Family is everything to her.
Unlike some princesses who ditch their families for a man, Moana holds her family close to her heart. Even though her father disagrees with her path in the beginning, she doesn't give up on him. She returns after her adventure, and she reconnects her people to their roots. And her relationship with Gramma Tala is so special! It makes me tear up every time I watch the film.
Moana has more realistic body proportions than other princesses.
Finally! She's still slender, but she has a more muscular build than any other Disney princess. Check out those calves! Animation directors Ron Clements and John Musker
said they wanted her to "physically hold her own for what kind of stunts [they] wanted her to do and the physicality of the role." Yes! Hopefully, Disney will continue this trend and give us more characters in ALL shapes and sizes!
She reminds us to respect our elders.
In the Pacific Islander community, we treasure our elders. They are filled with wisdom and experience that we young folks can't quite grasp yet. They deserve our utmost respect. Moana's relationship with Gramma Tala encompasses this. And after her grandma dies, Moana is open to receiving her memory and encouragement. This demonstrates how our elders and ancestors can live on through us.
Moana works hard to learn a skill.
Unlike most other princesses, Moana has to develop and master a skill to accomplish her goal! She doesn't really know how to sail in the beginning, but with Maui's instruction, she slowly improves. It's a great reminder that following your dreams takes hard work and resilience, but you can achieve it if you don't give up.
She is the most compassionate Disney princess.
The movie starts with baby Moana helping a tiny turtle make it to the ocean without being eaten by birds. Even as a little kid, she has the biggest heart! Then, she risks her life on this wild adventure – not for fame or glory or riches, but to save her island and her people. There's not a selfish bone in her body.
Moana is a wonderful friend.
After being abandoned by his parents, Maui is plagued by self-esteem issues. He doesn't believe he has value without his hook. But Moana helps him down the path to self-confidence and self-respect. I can't think of another princess who has such a positive impact on her friends.
She values her people's history and learns from it.
Polynesian wayfinders used the stars and ocean currents to navigate the Pacific for thousands of years. Moana discovers this, and she immediately recognizes that this is a way to help her village in the present. I love that she brings the voyager aspect of her culture full circle.
Moana wears traditional dress throughout the entire film.
This is huge! Disney based Moana's outfits on the traditional clothing of different Pacific islands. And let me tell you, the PRIDE I felt as a Samoan woman when I saw Moana in her tuiga (headdress) was off the charts! Dressing Moana this way educates viewers while showcasing the beauty and creativity of Pasifika cultures.
Her name is symbolic.
The word "moana" actually means ocean in many Polynesian languages. So when the ocean chooses her, it's very fitting. It's almost as though she was born for this!
Moana doesn't kill Te Kā. Instead, she heals her.
Usually, the good guy defeats the bad guy during an epic battle. Only Moana, so compassionate and empathetic, would think of strolling up to a powerful monster and hoping to restore her heart. Since many Polynesians view the ocean as the source of life, it's also beautifully symbolic that the girl whose name translates to ocean is the one to bring Te Fiti back to life.
Her songs are powerful.
Unlike some princesses who literally sing, "Someday, my prince will come," Moana's songs are about self-empowerment. In "How Far I'll Go," she accepts that she's special and decides to follow the ocean's call. And with my favorite song, "I Am Moana," she connects with Gramma Tala and her ancestors. The song reminds her about who she is and gives her the strength to continue her mission.
And finally, Moana respects Mother Nature.
The slow destruction of the environment in the movie parallels what's actually happening to our planet today. Pacific Islanders are indigenous people who care deeply about our homes, and I love that Moana shines a light on that. She risks her life to save her island, and we could all learn from her dedication to preserving nature.
What do you love about Moana? Let me know in the comments below!
Check out more of our posts celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang
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