Is Moana a Disney Princess?
And follow up: are Disney princesses furries?
Stay with me, people, because this is something I’ve had on my mind for a while.
So I saw Moana, which I liked very much, and I was talking with a friend who called her Disney’s first Polynesian Islander princess. My objection was that Lilo, a Hawaiian Islander, came first.
What stopped me here is that Lilo is commonly not considered a princess, because she’s not royalty - just a Hawaiian kid. However, that logic implies that Esmeralda, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, isn’t a princess either.
Other people argue that she is still the female lead of a Disney movie. By that logic, Judy Hopps could be considered a princess, despite the fact that she’s A) a blue-collar policewoman, and B) a furry.
But not so fast! Guess who else is a furry and legally a princess!
So the central question I want to answer is this:
Does Moana have a claim to princesshood?
First off, Moana’s dad is chieftain of the island, and Moana is expected to succeed him. This seems like a solid case for making her a princess - meaning that she would beat Lilo as Disney’s first Polynesian princess. However, there are two problems with this:
A) Moana abjures the title of princess
B) The population she rules is one town, making her, at best, a Disney mayor
Now, the Disney canon does not have rules per se for being considered a princess, but it does have precedents. Cinderella, Belle, and Tiana, for instance, all married into the title. Tiana’s case is especially interesting because it’s the backbone of the movie:
Her first kiss with Prince Naveen doesn’t lift his frog curse because she isn’t a princess…
…but they later get married, which does make her a princess, retroactively lifting the curse.
In Disney canon terms, this is pretty much the closest thing you can get to a case law: you have to actually be a princess to be a Disney princess. The movie assumes that as a hard-and-fast rule that Tiana has to overcome. But there’s a problem with that - two problems, actually:
Even if you don’t necessarily consider Megara a Disney princess - she’s not royalty, and neither is Hercules, although you could claim that ascending to godhood makes him technically count - it’s impossible to argue that Mulan, the iconic badass warrior princess, doesn’t fit the bill.
The problem is, Mulan is probably Chinese aristocracy - she lives in a nice house, her family don’t work their own land, and she’s considered highly marriageable. And Shang, as impossibly attractive as he is, is at best a Mandarin (warrior aristocrat).
An incredibly hot Mandarin. But not a prince, which makes Mulan not a princess.
However, Moana seems to override the Tiana precedent when Moana claims that she’s not a princess. Maui sarcastically replies, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.” That could be taken as a litmus or a corollary to the above rule, which would make the princess clause look something like this:
You are a Disney Princess if:
(A) You are descended from royalty within a Disney movie
(B) Failing the above, you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick
Aside from the fact that this would make Robin Hood technically qualify as a Disney princess…
…this seems like a reasonable clause. This would make all princesses covered so far, up to and including Mulan, fit the description (assuming that Pegasus counts as Meg’s sidekick by proxy). The definition is wide enough to even include Nala!
However, guess who also fits that definition?
In conclusion, we must accept one of two options:
1. Either the title of Disney Princess is strictly literal, which excludes all non-royalty up to and including fucking Mulan.
2. There have been Disney princesses who are furries.