Disney Princesses Who Are the Best Role Models
Disney princesses have been doing more than just entertaining families for generations. They also have been educating kids and teaching valuable life lessons. But not all Disney princesses are created equal, and some have more admirable traits than others.
In business, companies are rated by their ESG score (which measures environmental, social and governance factors). It's the best way to evaluate a company and its sustainability. What if we ranked Disney's animated heroines by their eco-friendliness and how good a role model they are to children?
We would know who is the eco-friendliest of them all. These are the Disney princesses who live the most sustainable lifestyles and make the best role models for kids.
Note: All data is from Save On Energy, except Elsa's eco-score, which is from FamilyMinded.
Role model grade: 44 (out of 100)
Eco-friendly grade: 8 (out of 20)
Combined score: 26
Eco-friendly actions: Can create the most eco-friendly ladder in the world, uses a horse, tends to a pet chameleon, doesn't use a hair straightener despite its obvious benefits for her situation.
Bottom Line: Rapunzel
Rapunzel is trapped in a tower, so when she's not tending to her chameleon, most of her energy is spent on figuring out how to get away from her evil mother.
Running away from home isn't exactly a lesson you want to teach your children — especially if they have an active imagination and are subject to being grounded.
She didn't score too high on the eco-friendly scale, either. Although she could conceivably create her own super-sustainable mattress business by using her discarded locks as mattress filling.
Role model grade: 48
Eco-friendly grade: 8
Combined score: 28
Eco-friendly actions: Upcycles wood into armor, briefly increased the bear population, rides a horse, uses nature as a training area rather than going to the gym.
Bottom Line: Merida
Merida is a fiercely independent Disney princess who shows little interest in getting married and can wield a bow better than anyone in the kingdom. She's very confident and headstrong, but can also be stubborn and impulsive.
Plus, there was that whole thing about turning her mother into a bear. It wasn't on purpose, but that's probably not something moms want to happen to them (although mothers should not try to arrange a marriage for their daughter).
Merida also was the first Disney princess to not have a love interest, which is cool.
Movie: "Sleeping Beauty"
Role model grade: 51
Eco-friendly grade: 20
Combined score: 35.5
Eco-friendly actions: Rides a horse, sews her own clothes, forages her own food, uses magic to heat water.
Bottom Line: Aurora
Princess Aurora is the most eco-friendly princess in the Save On Energy rankings. Think about it: She picks her own fruits and veggies, she lives in a little hut made of sustainable materials, she sews all of her clothes by hand and she can heat water with magic. She also sleeps a whole lot, which leaves zero carbon footprint.
But Aurora runs into trouble when it comes to her role model grade. She's quite literally a damsel in distress who needs to be saved by a man's kiss, which is given to her while she's asleep. Bit of a problem there.
Aurora is still a charming and very loving person, if demure.
Role model grade: 62
Eco-friendly grade: 10
Combined score: 36
Eco-friendly actions: Makes an effort to conserve water, cuts her own hair, uses the great outdoors to train and exercise, draws her own tattoos instead of using a machine.
Bottom Line: Mulan
Fa Mulan is a brilliant woman who saves her elderly father from being conscripted into the army by dressing like a man and taking his place. She wasn't the best soldier in training, but her wits and intelligence made her one of the most valuable soldiers there. She's more suited to be a war strategist than a simple soldier — what's not to look up to?
Also in her favor: Mulan's entire journey is done to honor her family. That gives her big marks with parents. A Statista survey conducted in Britain found that Mulan had a 66 percent approval rating among adults for being a good role model for girls.
As far as being eco-friendly, Mulan is in the middle of the pack. But it's hard to worry about the environment when you're in the middle of war.
9. Snow White
Movie: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"
Role model grade: 56
Eco-friendly grade: 18
Combined score: 37
Eco-friendly actions: Has animals wash her cookery, lives in a sustainable cottage, cleans her carpets with a brush rather than go to a carpet cleaner, loves and takes care of animals.
Bottom Line: Snow White
Like Aurora, Snow White lives in a sustainable cottage, although she doesn't have the ability to heat water with magic. But her little animal buds clean her dishes, which must be a hundred times more sustainable than using a dishwasher. She also takes good care of her animals (she's not running a sweatshop, OK?). Only Aurora has a higher eco-rating than Snow White.
Is she a role model for girls? No, not really. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was Disney's first feature-length animated film, and it came out in 1937. Snow White is subservient to the men in her life, and really, the entire story hinges on her being woken up by her lover's kiss.
Like "Sleeping Beauty," it doesn't age well in many respects. But, hey, considering it was 1937, it could have been worse.
Role model grade: 64
Eco-friendly grade: 12
Combined score: 38
Eco-friendly actions: Lives in an earth-friendly home, forages her own food, has her own livestock.
Bottom Line: Moana
Moana was ranked as being the best role model for girls by both Moms.com and Statista. She's a fearless islander who would rather risk the dangers of sea than stick around on her island.
What's interesting about "Moana" is the complete lack of a love interest anywhere in the movie. There's not even mention of marriage in the future, the hint of romance with anyone on the island, or the suggestion that Moana even cares.
Moana is also very eco-friendly. She lives on an island and has her own livestock, and everything made on the island comes from the island. It was also set 2,000 years ago. People were more sustainable back then.
Role model grade: 59
Eco-friendly grade: 18
Combined score: 38.5
Eco-friendly actions: Sews and repairs her own clothing, employs animals to wash and dry her own clothes, rides a horse and carriage, upcycles a pumpkin into a coach and mice into horses, uses birds as an alarm clock.
Bottom Line: Cinderella
Cinderella is pretty eco-friendly. She has animals wash her clothes and has birds waking her up instead of an alarm clock. But the most impressive sustainable act is the changing of mice into horses, and upcycling a pumpkin into a horse and carriage. Now that's sustainable.
Is Cinderella a role model? She can be. Cinderella gets points for being iconic — being equated to being Cinderella generally carries good connotations — and she's extremely kind. She's also a survivor, weathering an abusive household and being forced into a near lifetime of servitude.
While she's "saved" in the end by a man, some modern critics say painting Cinderella as an agency-free, subservient woman is a simplified way to look at things.
Movie: "The Little Mermaid"
Role model grade: 70
Eco-friendly grade: 10
Combined score: 40
Eco-friendly actions: Upcycles ocean trash into fashionable decor, swims instead of boats, washes and dries her clothes by hand, is a marine life conservationist.
Bottom Line: Ariel
Ariel's a tough one. On the one hand, she has an enviable singing voice and views the world with endless fascination. On the other hand, she's real quick to give up everything she knows and loves — including her voice — for some dude on a boat. That's not the message anyone wants to send their son or daughter.
Ariel is very eco-friendly, as she should be, given her location under the sea. She collects trash and upcycles it into antiques and treasures, and even turns a fork into a hairbrush.
Plus, she can swim real fast without burning fossil fuels. At least, we think she doesn't.
Role model grade: 68
Eco-friendly grade: 14 (our score)
Combined score: 41
Eco-friendly actions: Has no need for a freezer or fridge, can create eco-friendly ice dresses with magic, literally fights climate change in "Frozen II."
Bottom Line: Elsa
Elsa is an interesting character. She's afraid of her power to control ice and snow and is constantly trying to keep her emotions in check so she bottles them up. She's forced herself to be rigid and icy — but it's all done to keep her powers in check and her kingdom safe.
She might not be the best role model, though. Only 49 percent of those polled by Statista thought she was a good role model for girls, but she still has many redeeming qualities. She's kind, intelligent, compassionate, and she loves her sister.
Eco-friendly-wise, Elsa has a lot of carbon footprint-friendly qualities. She can manipulate ice and snow so masterfully that she can create an entire wardrobe out of the stuff. The cold doesn't bother her, and the enemy of "Frozen II" is basically climate change.
We know, Elsa isn't technically a Disney princess. But you would think otherwise, given her enormous popularity.
Movie: "The Princess and the Frog"
Role model grade: 77
Eco-friendly grade: 6
Combined score: 41.5
Eco-friendly actions: Takes care of animals, has an environmentally friendly hobby (singing), rides the rail car instead of driving a car.
Bottom Line: Tiana
Tiana is the first Black Disney princess, which was a huge deal at the time. "The Princess and the Frog" was a big step by Disney to building more inclusive, diverse casts. Plus, the movie takes place in New Orleans, which means it had a phenomenal soundtrack.
Tiana is smart and ambitious, and is determined to turn an old sugar mill into the restaurant of her dreams.
Like many New Orleanians, Tiana travels by the railcar (or streetcar, as they call it in New Orleans) and likes to sing. Hey, singing is a pretty eco-friendly hobby, right?
Role model grade: 81
Eco-friendly grade: 4
Combined score: 42.5
Eco-friendly actions: Uses a magic carpet for transportation, is an animal caregiver.
Bottom Line: Jasmine
Princess Jasmine received the second-highest role model rating. She's smart and courageous and driven to get away from the trappings of her royal family. She even gets angry at Aladdin for pretending to be a street rat, and not being true to himself.
Eco-friendly-wise, Jasmine has possibly the best eco-friendly vehicle in the world: a flying carpet. It's space-age stuff and doesn't need any fuel to drive it or the countless prototypes for such a device to even begin to be realized.
Magic is good like that.
Role model grade: 73
Eco-friendly grade: 14
Combined score: 43.5
Eco-friendly actions: Bathes in a river, forages her own food, is an animal caregiver.
Bottom Line: Pocahontas
Pocahontas is a bold, kind, and free-spirited woman. She's smart and compassionate and spends most of her time trying to figure out how to stop war. That's the kind of person who makes a good role model.
Plus, at the end of the movie, she chooses to stay behind with her tribe and keep the peace rather than accompany her love interest to England. Noble stuff.
As for sustainability, it's hard to imagine someone who is more sustainable than Pocahontas. Save On Energy doesn't really account for the ability to do things like talk to animals, who would probably tell Pocahontas to stop littering (not that she would to begin with).
Movie: "Beauty and the Beast"
Role model grade: 85
Eco-friendly grade: 14
Combined score: 49.5
Eco-friendly actions: Borrows and recycles books, rides a horse, picks her own fruit, has magical self-cleaning cookery.
Bottom Line: Belle
Belle makes the No. 1 spot for being the most sustainable Disney princess. She's sharp, funny, charismatic and a voracious reader. Her intelligence is a big reason why so many girls look up to Belle, as is the fact that she can hold her ground when her opinions are challenged.
Sure, you can criticize "Beauty and the Beast" for its Stockholm syndrome approach to love, but Belle as a character is pretty awesome. Belle is considered to be the first feminist Disney princess.
When it comes to sustainability, Belle borrows and recycles her own books, has her own livestock for the essential stuff and has magical self-cleaning cutlery. And she clearly loves animals. Especially beasts.
Related: Greatest Animated Disney Movies