My husband and I recently took our 2-year-old daughter to Disneyland. To prepare, we introduced one new Disney movie a day so that she could know who the princesses were and who the fairy tales were all about. It was not until I started watching these movies again from a “mom” perspective that I started to realize that some moves are more empowering for her than others. Being a women’s studies major in college, I went through all the movies we owned to find the ones I wanted to highlight for her. They’re movies with strong female leads that do not desperately rely on romance and a prince charming to save her or be the defining story line of her life.
My daughter will watch hundreds of movies in her lifetime, and I wanted to specifically target her first movies with ones that would show her that girls & princesses can have it all. They can dream big, they can be assertive, and they can be the protagonist of their own stories. Charlotte is so young and impressionable right now. I don’t want her first thoughts to be that she can’t have a happy ending without a prince.
Here are some wonderful movies with strong female heroines for girls to watch and feel inspired!
- Frozen – Elsa and Anna are sisters who overcome fear, loneliness, and their differences and end up saving each other through love. Each sister discovers herself and that strengthens their bond.
- Mulan – In this movie, Mulan takes her father’s place in the Chinese army to protect him. She faces adversity and defeats the Huns in several encounters with her intelligence, ingenuity, and bravery. Milan takes a very untraditional role to save not only her family, but all of China.
- Harry Potter Series – Hermione is a protagonist character that stands out from the beginning. She is incredibly smart, outspoken and true to herself. She may not be “cool” in the beginning but it is her character and intelligence that save the day time and time again.
- Brave – Merida is a princess with high expectations set upon her to be a lady and wed one of their neighboring clans’ sons. But Merida has other dreams and plans for her life. She and her mother have to overcome their differences in opinion and culture that eventually change not only Merida’s destiny but the rules on marriage in the kingdom.
- Hunger Games Series – Katniss is fierce, strong, brave, smart and a force to be reckoned with. There is a lot of pressure from the Capitol and her district to perform and act a certain way. But Katniss takes direction from no one. From start to finish, this series shows girls that it’s powerful to be yourself and forge your own path.
- Anne of Green Gables Series – Anne Shirley is an orphan who is sent to an unexpected home and family. Anne is imaginative, dramatic, smart, outspoken and incredibly warm. Many of the people in her town are shocked by her spirited and fiery personality. But soon her warm and loving spirit win over the town and everyone that Anne Shirley meets.
- Bend it Like Beckham – Jess fights against the stereotype that girls should not play soccer. She overcomes her family’s cultural expectations and creates her own successful path.
- Mathilda – This is a movie about a very brave and genius girl who overcomes her bad parents and evil principle through telekinesis. Her love of education, a friendship with a special teacher, and her bravery to stop bullying forces her to expose those that are evil and find a clever way to escape and save those she loves.
- Little Women – This story is about four sisters and a progressive mother who go through very different journeys. The main story is that of Jo. Jo defies tradition, societal pressures and all expectations to figure out her own path. Through many unexpected twists and unsure moments, Jo stays true to herself and ends up discovering the perfect life for herself.
- Moana – This is an incredible story about a Polynesian princess who listens to her heart and makes an incredibly journey to save her people. Moana’s bravery and love of her people is what really sets her a part. This is a beautiful movie that celebrates Moana’s independence, free spirit, and journey to finding herself.