After some diligent research I’ve found that I am not the only person invested in my granddaughter’s future based on the dolls she spends so much time fussing with. Writers on the websites, FanPop and Ranker explored the Disney Princesses as role models in some depth. Here's some of what they said:
SNOW WHITE: has incredible emotional strength and she never loses her cheerful disposition. On the other hand, she may be the worst of the princesses’ role models because she teaches girls that they need "a man to make it all better" and the only way they can make friends is by doing everything for them.
CINDERELLA: This heroine takes time to help the mice and show kindness to the smallest animals. She works hard and appreciates what she has in life, "while most of us would be damn near suicidal if we were in her shoes."
AURORA (SLEEPING BEAUTY): Kind, patient, and gentle, this Disney character respects authority. But she's pretty much just an object to be fancied, provided for and rescued. She literally does nothing but dance, sing, cry, and sleep. The Ranker reviewer noted, "There are few other characters that could potentially inspire girls to be lazy, submissive, inside-the-box thinkers than Sleeping Beauty."
BELLE: According to Ranker, "Belle is usually the number one princess of choice among intellectual women. She reads, she thinks, she's poor and somehow isn't a servant and she has a strong relationship with her father that isn’t borderline creepy." Ranker's problem is with the story, not with Belle. "It is…Belle’s ability to change the Beast that turns him into the character that we love…. It teaches women that they can effectively change the man that they love into the person they want him to be; or, conversely, that you should change to be with the person you love."
MULAN: The FacePop reviewer, who tends to give lazy princesses a pass, adores Mulan: "Girls often feel the need to suffocate their intelligence for social reasons—or even worse, to be admired by boys. However, Mulan’s plans—rooted in her intelligence—cause her to be lauded more than any woman in China, besides… being admired by a strong, noble man." The Ranker reviewer loves her, too. "This girl is the ultimate Disney hero, male or female! She defies gender stereotypes by secretly taking her father's place in the army. Not only is she brave and selfless, but she is insecure and a little clumsy, something real people can relate to."
TIANA: Not only is Tiana the first African-American princess, she is the first princess to have a specific ambition. She wants to open a restaurant in New Orleans. She's hardworking, fun, and evidence that the princesses are stepping up to the modern plate.
RAPUNZEL: This heroine is a spirited girl who never gives up. She was kidnapped as a baby, raised alone with her long blonde hair, and waits to be rescued. None of my role-model sources thought very much of her.
ARIEL (THE LITTLE MERMAID): Suggests girls may have to do what is frightening and uncertain to achieve their dreams. Still, she bargains her whole life, abandoning her friends and family, for a guy she only saw but never interacted with.
JASMINE: is the first non-European princess who doesn’t desperately yearn to marry a prince. “She is sassy, fun, and gorgeous… most importantly, she has self-respect and refuses to be treated like a trophy.
POCAHONTAS: puts the needs of her people above her own desires. The FanPop reviewer says she "found a way to stop the war, showing that love is stronger than hate and also that, if two sides are willing to listen, they can usually find a way to work things out without bloodshed."