Moana: Making Waves

On Thanksgiving, there will be a new addition to the disney princesses list, a young girl named Moana from the Polynesian islands. Since childhood, she has been captivated by the legends of the South Pacific islands. Her grandmother, Tala, supports Moana’s dreams to someday navigate and explore the seas, as her ancestors did before her. The animation follows journey to become a master wayfinder.  

Unlike Jasmine, Cinderella, and Ariel and other princesses that Disney has created in the past, Moana is more independent as she has no prince. Even when her traveling companion, Maui, calls her “princess,”she tells him she is not. Since Moana does not have a male love interest in the film, she focuses on her goals instead. She fights sea monsters with Maui and defeats the odds to save her island, Motunui.  

Moana is similar to the Scottish princess with iconic bright red curls: Merida. In the 2012 animation “Brave”, she chooses to go on a journey of her own instead of being swooped up into the arms of Prince Charming. She was so against marrying a man she didn’t love, she had accidentally turned her mother, Queen Elinor, into a bear by giving her a potion from a witch in the forest. The rest of the story consists of her trying to save her family, and she ultimately becomes queen without having a husband. In Disney’s 2013 animated film, Frozen, Queen Elsa from Arendelle rules over her kingdom without a king, once again reinforcing the idea that young women can accomplish great things independently. Similar to Merida and Elsa’s story, Moana’s consists of trying to find herself, and discovering who she is as a person.

Disney is becoming more culturally diverse over time. Moana is Disney’s first

Pacific Islander princess, as she is Polynesian. Other culturally diverse princess include Mulan from China, Jasmine from the Middle Eastern kingdom of Agrabah, and Princess Tiana, an African American girl living in New Orleans. Because of the diversity in the characters’ backgrounds, Disney seems to brings up the idea that it is okay to be different, and there is beauty in each and every skin color.

Another idea Disney brings to the table is feminism. Although it is a concept that began in the late 19th century, it is being revived in the 21st and its ideals grow stronger as time goes on. Feminism makes an impact in “Moana” by having the main character focus on herself and her own accomplishments, not worrying about a true love or prince unlike many other Disney princess movies in the past.

For kids of all ages, Disney movies can be very influential. Therefore, the ideas that women can be powerful and independent, in movies such as “Brave”, “Frozen”, and now “Moana”, can persuade viewers to believe they can as well. Without having a love interest, these princesses can focus on themselves to become strong and accomplished; Moana will be a great example of this to children all across the country.