Disney Princesses in 2017: How Emma Watson Made Belle A Feminist
This article is originally seen in Vogue.
Let’s face it, the majority of the beloved Disney princesses of our childhood were less than stellar female role models. Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty mostly waited around for a prince to save them. Then there was Ariel, who gave up everything—even her voice!—to be with a prince she had only seen once. Even Jasmine, a sassy princess with a pet tiger, spent most of her time preoccupied with finding an acceptable suitor. And then, there was Beauty and the Beast’s Belle, a welcome exception to the Disney princess stereotype. She was a young woman who was brave and adventurous, loved to read, and even ended up saving the prince at the very end. But for actress Emma Watson, who will be playing the character in Disney’s live-action remake of the story, Belle actually wasn’t feminist enough.
In a recent interview, the U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador and HeForShe advocate revealed Belle would be more than just a bookworm in the upcoming film. “Well there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also, what is she doing with her time?” she said. “So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”
Watson didn’t stop there. She also had a say in Belle’s wardrobe, making sure she was never seen running around in impractical corsets and footwear. “She’s very practical, she’s a very good horse rider,” she said. “In the movie, she wears these little ballet shoes, and I knew that they had to go because if you’re going to ride a horse, and tend your garden, and fix machinery, then you need to be in proper boots.” Can we get Emma Watson to revamp all of the other Disney princesses now?
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