In occasion of her first appearance on screen on the 4th of February 1938 (I’m 2 days late, but whatever eheheh), here’s my homage to the first Disney princess ever, the sweet and kind Snow White (with a slightly more elaborated costume)
[sorry mom for having forced you to watch this movie way too many times]
Ok… Day-by-day, I get to see a bunch of bull about how the Disney princesses we loved and admired growing up aren’t strong enough role-models for young women. People spit on them as if they were made solely to cater to a man’s “ideal of a woman” or to propagandize the “oppression of women." And I’m sick of it, because there’s nothing wrong with the way those characters are and many people would instead have these princesses be cookie-cutter images of a warrior-type, "strong, independent woman who-don’t-need-no-man."
Pushing the ideal that young girls have to grow up as BA fighters who can bench press a truck, denying all traditionally feminine aspects, is no better than forcing them to keep to only feminine aspects. A girl liking combat boots and action figures is ok: A girl liking pink, frilly dresses and dolls is ok. A girl who wants to live on her own and focus on her work and hobbies all through her life is ok: A girl who wants to someday meet that 'one, true-love’ and find ‘happily-ever-after' is ok. Strength is more than just about wielding a sword or standing on your own, and each of the princesses show strength in their own way. They each have a beauty and uniqueness all their own that makes each of them perfect as they are.
So I’ve decided to write these posts featuring each Disney princess, analyzing them and explaining what makes them so wonderful. So why not begin with the first and fairest of them all:
I could talk about the fact that Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was released in 1937. You know, a period where women only just got the right to vote in the States, were just beginning to experiment with new liberties in fashion, and were still told to mind the house since the USA had four more years before they would enter WWII. (The ideal of the time was still one where the man was the main, economic supporter for the family, but once all the men went to war, woman were pushed to step up in their place in the workforce.) I could talk about how Walt Disney did pretty much nothing to change the original story of Snow White from how it’s been told for centuries rather than cater to a more, modern-day audience. I could, but I’m not: Because this isn’t even about the era the movie came from, but about Snow White herself as a character.
The opening of the film explains that "Snow White’s step-mother, the Queen, feared her beauty would surpass her own and forced her to wear rags and work as a scullery maid." So what you get is a princess being treated as a servant. She's kept away from the world, trapped within a castle’s walls, and forced into what’s essentially slavery. If the Queen treated her like this, chances are that Snow White wasn’t allowed much social interaction from anyone without her authority–meaning that she wouldn’t be dressed in elegant gowns or go to balls, and wouldn’t be allowed to court with princes or lords as most young girls from noble families would have at her age. She’s kept a prisoner without much awareness of the world beyond the castle and with only fantasies of a better tomorrow to keep her going. The Queen made it so that Snow White likely didn’t have a friend in the world to rely on, and so it's only natural that she would dream of someone finally coming to her rescue and maybe finding love in the process.
So when the prince shows up and is showering her with affection–just as 'in love at first sight’ with her if not more-so–it’s no wonder that she takes to it so readily. Here is a man who’s compassionate toward her and is telling her how much she means to him, so even though she reacts with surprise and fear at first when he appears out of nowhere she quickly turns around and latches onto those positive words and actions directed toward her. It’s sad that she would be that way, but that’s the reality of her situation. She’s just extremely lucky that the man she latched onto was someone who truly did care for her back.
(Plus, it’s a hour-and-a-half long film and they have to keep things at a certain, quick pace.)
Then comes the part where Snow White’s time is finally up: The mirror finally tells the Queen what she knew was inevitable and says that Snow White is 'fairest of them all’ and not her. The Queen orders her huntsman to take Snow White out into the country and assassinate her.
Based on the huntsman’s and the dwarves’ reactions, it’s obvious that–despite how much the Queen tries to suppress Snow White and keep her away from the company of others–the people of the kingdom love Snow White as a person, possibly as a result from before her step-mother’s rule and when Snow White would’ve had more freedom and more interaction with people or from word-of-mouth from the other servants in the castle who would’ve worked alongside her. They know what a wonderful, gentle person she is so, in the end, the huntsman can't bring himself to kill her and the dwarves agree to hide her from the Queen. Both instances though really highlight some strong personality traits for Snow White.
When the huntsman gets down on his knees, shaking and begging for her forgiveness, she doesn’t react to the near-assassination with any hatred: She’s just confused and hurt, because she trusted that she would’ve been safe with him. Note how she doesn’t even question him when he tells her it was her own step-mother who told him to kill her, so it’s not that she’s completely naïve either. She’s just the kind of person who will trust someone before mistrusting them.
As for the dwarves, keep in mind… No matter how desperate she was, she broke into their house, she's begging them to keep her safe from a witch who’ll murder someone just out of petty jealousy and spite, and she just met them. They don’t really know her aside from what they’ve heard and can only trust her word that she really is the princess. They’re taking a huge risk on their own lives by keeping her around and there is nothing stopping them from saying 'sorry about your luck’ and kicking her out. However, she offers to watch house for them as her only form of paying them back for their kindness and they do let her stay. Not one minute later…
"March straight outside and wash, or you’ll not get a bite to eat!”
She’s got these seven, grown men–whose house she’s living in–whipped. She’s acting like their mother instead of the guest she is, and she’s not buying any of their bull when they try to squirm out of telling her the truth and just washing their hands. People try to focus so much on her taking the role of “the woman of the house” that they lose sight of the fact that she's living there out of the dwarves’ kindness and is still willing to put her foot her down when she feels she needs to as if she were already a long-standing relative of theirs instead of a total stranger.
Going back a little in the film, let’s also talk about Snow White’s reaction to her environment. We already covered the likelihood of her being locked away within the castle’s walls as she was growing up. So when she gets to go outside, at first the world seems pretty and new, but then we add the layer or fear over her near-assassination and we suddenly get thrust into this dark forest of monstrous trees and log-alligators that she’s warped her reality to be in her mind. Only when she scares other people, the animals of the forest, does she realize that–for the time being–she’s safe and she can think her way through her problem. She admits she was in the wrong for letting fear take over her, stiffs her upper lip, and carries herself forward. Many people would prefer to let a bad situation consume them and become a victim rather than try to solve it, but the fact that Snow White doesn’t and says she’s in the wrong for letting fear take over is incredibly mature for someone with as little worldly experience as she has.
What made Snow White such a strong character for the era she was created in when the movie was released and what makes her such an amazing character today is that, no matter how horrible things are done to her, she always tries to see the best in life and keeps smiling. She never let’s another person’s hatred or cruelty turn her into a horrible person, and responds to all of the evil she faces with compassion. She’s always looking for that better tomorrow and holds her faith in the good of mankind. Snow White isn’t the 'fairest of them all’ because of her looks: She’s 'fairest of them all’ because of her kindess and gentle soul. That’s what makes her so strong and so beautiful a princess.
Look, Snow White’s ending was written all wrong if you ask me. In my opinion, Grumpy should have kissed her and they would live happily ever after. I mean, it’s kind of obvious to me that they were in love. She even made him a special pie with his name on it. And who was the first one to hop on a deer and gallop back to the cottage when they knew she was in trouble?! That’s right, Grumpy! And who wept the hardest when she ‘died’? Again, Grumpy. I’m just stating facts here, people…
E V I L Q U E E N “magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Even though she is a villain, we can still learn from the Evil Queen. Modern Princesses learn from the Evil Queen: *power* *justice* *determination* *intelligence* Rock on P R I N C E S S ! ~ why not? villains are the best!
if you like this account please follow and share <3