13 Jun 2012

{Guest Post} By Nick Shea

5 Reasons Why Belle is the Best Disney Princess

Beauty and the Beast is a masterpiece, and Belle is my favorite Disney Princess. Allow me to explain why I’d let her tame my beast any day of the week.

1. She’s not a princess.

Belle lives with her father on the outskirts of a poor, quiet, provincial town in France. The house is quirky and jumbled. We wonder if Maurice (Belle’s inventor father) built it himself, considering the various contraptions and inventions that proliferate on the property. They live aloof, away from the rest of the townspeople, and Belle is without a mother figure. It’s unclear what happened to Belle’s mother; her lack of presence is entirely unaddressed in the film. No matter how beautiful Belle is, the film makes it clear that she is merely a peasant girl with her head in the clouds.

Hot damn!

The only other Disney Princesses that weren’t born from wealthy families are Mulan and Tiana. However, Tiana’s film is called The Princess and the Frog, so that…uh…complicates things a bit. I think we should just stick with Mulan and Belle as the only two young women not actually born from aristocratic families or deemed princesses. But Mulan comes from some semblance of prestige; her father is a respected military hero. Belle doesn’t even have that!

2. She doesn’t superficially fall in love.

Glen Keane, the supervising animator for Beast, created the character by combining the thick mane of a lion, the gigantic head of a buffalo, the potent tusks of a wild boar, the expressive, muscular brow of a gorilla, the legs and tail of a wolf, and the bulky body of a bear.

Belle falls in love with that. Uhhh…

It goes without saying that Belle is not enamored with Beast’s looks. She even admits in a song, “true, he’s no Prince Charming!” which is, of course, a hilarious understatement. Instead, it is his willingness to progress past his bipolar tantrums. She is able to change him, to heal him, to restore his ability for compassion and love. It is eventually his endearing personality, his tenderness, and the multiple sacrifices he makes for her which create a mounting presence in Belle’s heart. It is the astounding ability of his love that enacts her love.

3. She vehemently rejects the handsomest man in town, Gaston.

Belle turns down Gaston, the epitome of bro, the kind of limpdick tool that parades around like he’s a god in the sack but you know he isn’t because he’s only concerned with getting his nut and obviously has no idea how to please a woman (high school jocks, anyone?). Gaston is a shitpiece. He’s a towering brute and a hypermasculine douchebag. Belle admits he’s handsome, sure, but she goes on to say, “and rude, and conceited…” and asserts she could never be with him. Gaston doesn’t even understand when she insults him.

All anyone can focus on is his body, considering he has a vapid personality and an empty head. He then uses his massive body to accomplish his goals of leadership, winning hunting trophies, etc. Belle is much more interested in the emotional spectrum than the physical spectrum of a person. She prefers bestiality to the embrace of this utter caveman. At least Beast is more interesting.

Okay, okay, to be fair, it’s not like we see Belle and Beast have sex or anything, but I’m sure she thought about it. Hell, I’ve thought about it. And now you’re thinking about it too. I bet it would’ve been like this:

I’d love to see this movie.

4. Belle refuses to be pigeonholed into various stereotypical feminine roles.


Get it gurl!

Gaston: “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking…”

Belle: “Gaston, you are positively primeval.”

Gaston: [laughing] “Why, thank you, Belle!”

First off, Belle is intelligent and sassy. She reads. These statements are not mutually exclusive, but they are both true. The most incredible gift she could ever receive is a massive library. She’s a damn good role model for young girls, if only for that reason alone. (Maybe Beauty and the Beast’s 1991 release is the reason why ladies outnumber guys in colleges now!)

The supervising art director for Beauty and the Beast, Brian McEntee, purposefully colored Belle so that she is the only person in her town who wears blue. This is particularly evident in the opening scene of the narrative, where we meet the Belle and the townspeople. Obviously, this color juxtaposition is indicative of her outsider status. Later, she encounters the blue-eyed Beast, another misfit, who also wears blue during their epic ballroom dance. Our first introduction to Belle is within the confines of a song about her odd behavior: reading, having an imagination, and rejecting Gaston’s advances.

Belle is repulsed by the wifely duties Gaston wants for her: cooking, cleaning, popping out six or seven kids, etc. She seems particularly disgusted at the idea of having children, though that may just be at the prospect of sex with Gaston and not the actual child rearing.

It seems she values her current home life as the optimal arrangement, one in which household duties are shared and domestic space is not solely the woman’s responsibility. Belle and her father love each other very much, and alternately offer words of encouragement (she self-consciously asks, “do you think I’m odd?” to which he responds incredulously; paralleled, he is only able to repair his invention after she confesses she’s always believed he’ll be a successful inventor). She helps provide and foster a strong family center, but she is not solely responsible for it.

Her father works at home, allowing a sense of reciprocity to pervade their relationship. Belle has plenty of leisure time to read and cannot possibly spend much time cleaning or cooking. I’d like to imagine Maurice does some chores too. Belle is in a better situation than a Princess like Cinderella, who has to deal with a whole mansion of chores. This leisure time is potentially why Belle is an avid autodidact (although Jasmine, for instance, should have plenty of time to indulge in reading and self-education, acts in which she doesn’t engage during Aladdin).

Lastly, Belle argues with Beast and is not intimidated when he’s literally bellowing in her face. While she dresses his wound and he struggles, she reprimands him. She even yells back at him and totally shuts his whiney ass down, rendering him verbally immobile with rhetoric and fact. To be so strong-willed immediately after facing probable death by wolves and being screamed at by a massive, equally dangerous beast…that’s quite the feat.

5. Belle is the most aesthetically iconic Princess.

Brunette in a yellow dress? Obviously Belle, even if she craves flesh.

The yellow dress is what Mickey Mouse’s ears are to Disney.

As I have proven above, Belle is the best Disney Princess (though Mulan is an extremely close second). Now go re-watch Beauty and the Beast and see what I’m talking about!

 Nick and I first met while living in the same residence hall freshman year and we’ve pretty much been friends ever since. Although we see each other very sporadically, I can always count on him to be 100% honest with me. There is one moment in particular in my college that I will never ever forget  and that is participating in his radio show with our friend Cyril for KSUB in our freshman year and starting the “Girl Talk” segment. It was kind of awesome and awful at the same time, but we would never take it back. We’d tell you more about it, but we don’t want to get in trouble so let’s just call it legendary and be done with it. 

Posted on June 13, in People


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