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8 Best Role Models for Girls in Disney Movies

Updated on December 15, 2017
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Poppy is a proofreader and Dragon Age fan. She lives in Tokyo and has two hamsters named Zelda and Hemingway.

Female Disney characters have long been exciting for kids, fascinating for critics, and unforgettable by Disney fans. Perhaps depending on your age, you had those one or two characters who really stood out to you. For this generation, perhaps it will be Elsa or Anna from the famous Frozen, or perhaps Rapunzel from Tangled. Disney girls are in movies, on posters, and come as plush toys or dolls.

What effects do these Disney princesses and girls have on viewers, and who, from all of Disney's animated classics, is technically the best role model for our kids - not just our daughters, but anyone who enjoys these films? This article aims to explore the top ten female role models from Disney movies and why.


1. Meg (Hercules)

Meg is a sassy Disney girl with an attitude. She's realistic (if a little pessimistic) about love, and even sings a song about denying she's got feelings for Hercules. She's cheeky, funny, strong, and isn't afraid to speak her mind, which is arguably a great personality for our kids to imitate.

Meg | Source

2. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

Belle loves books and spends all her free time reading. When she's not doing that, she's helping out her father. She isn't prancing around with butterflies or singing about getting married. She's a practical and headstrong young woman, who girls all ages can definitely relate to.


Even when the most handsome guy in town asks for her hand in marriage, she rejects it because she doesn't like his personality. Belle is sweet, very likable, and loves her father very much. Most definitely a Disney girl to look up to.

2. Mrs. Incredible / Elastigirl / Helen Parr (The Incredibles)

Mrs. Incredible, or Helen Parr, isn't really a Disney "girl", but she is definitely worth a mention. Before marrying Mr. Incredible, her superhero identity, Elastigirl, explains how she loves being a hero.

Later on in the movie, she tells her husband how he doesn't have to be strong enough to protect their whole family on his own because he has her. Helen is fearless and believes in her strength, not only as a superhero, but as a wife and mother. Definitely something for viewers to imitate.


3. Nani (Lilo & Stitch)

Nani is the older sister of the main female character, Lilo, in Lilo & Stitch. Although not much attention has been paid to her, she's still a great character in Disney and an excellent role model to not only girls, but boys too.

She cares about her family and does her best to provide for Lilo, even when Lilo makes life difficult for her with her mischief. Nani is probably around twenty years old, and is she off partying? No, she's at home taking care of the only family member she has left. Definitely worth a mention on this list.


4. Merida (Brave)

A headstrong and free-spirited young princess, Merida is a great role model for girls. She very much has her own brain, and even rejects the prospect of marriage by taking on several warriors (and winning). Another Disney film that focuses on the importance of family, and easily made this list.

Merida | Source

5. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)

Tiana is a hard-working young lady who wants to use her talents to make it on her own. Tiana may possibly be one of the best role models for girls and young women today.

She sings about living her dream of building her own restaurant and succeeding with her own strength.


6. Pocahontas (Pocahontas)

Pocahontas is a Native American princess who is strong, adventurous and will do anything to protect her family and her people, even after falling in love with the enemy.

What is really amazing about Pocahontas is what when John Smith is badly hurt and asks her to travel to England with him, she chooses to stay with her family and her people. This hardly ever happens in Disney movies, and it's a powerful testament to how strong her character is.

Pocahontas | Source

7. Mulan (Mulan)

This ancient Chinese myth was brought to life by Disney, introducing a strong and determined young woman who risks her life to save not only her father, but her entire country. More than once she disregards her own safety and bravely works to defend her people. Mulan's personality is also a little clumsy, she's sometimes a little late, and her 'good ideas' sometimes don't really work out. This shows that she isn't perfect - something everyone in the world can relate to.

Best quote: "The flower that blossoms in the face of adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all."

Mulan | Source

8. Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Esmeralda hits the number one spot on 'the best female Disney role models' list. She is a gypsy girl in Paris, outcast by 'normal' townsfolk and despised by the justice system.

She dances on the streets to put bread on the table, can entertain an audience, and, best of all, isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She'll speak her mind and stand up for the less fortunate even if it means certain death. Even when Justice Frolo is about to command her execution, she doesn't waver. Such strength and determination should surely be noticed and imitated by viewers.

Esmeralda | Source

Who, from this list, is your favourite Disney character?

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Disney continues to bring us likable characters, many of which are girls who we hope real children can look up to! Who is your favourite Disney character?

© 2014 Poppy


Submit a Comment

  • Biomedical profile image

    Robert A. Avila, PE, MCE 2 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine

    Real strength, for men and women both, comes from looking deeply and honestly into one's own heart and asking, "What do I really want?" Then, disregarding naysayers, and considering all wise advice, advancing according to the heart. For some, this is a simple life with kith and kin. For others, it is transforming the global society.

  • poppyr profile image

    Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

    I like Meg a lot! I loved Ariel when I was kid but I realised that leaving your family to be with a bloke you've known for ten minutes probably isn't the grounds for a good role model..

  • Sarah Anderson profile image

    Sarah Anderson 3 years ago from Wallingford, CT

    Tough choice there, but I had to go with Belle. I totally had a Meg T-shirt when I was a kid, though.

  • poppyr profile image

    Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

    Thank you for your comment Sally Rose :D

  • sallyrose333 profile image

    Sally 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

    Great list of Disney Role models. I think it is really important for young girls to have good role models to look up too. I love your list it's hard to choose from. I chose Milan because she is so brave even when things didn't go her way. Great article!