what’s your want? : a guide to princess power songs

What was your favorite song as a child? If you’re a Millennial like me, there’s a good chance it was found on a Disney soundtrack. And to this day, when you hear that song or see that movie, you’re taken back. You love that song. It’s in your blood. But chances are, you don’t see a need for that song out of the context of the film. It’s a kids song, right? And there’s so much more out there to listen to now.

But here’s my challenge for you. Take the context out of the equation. Don’t think of an animated princess rowing her canoe around the riverbend – listen to what she’s actually saying. Because there’s more color layered into those lyrics than you realize – important messages that stand a good chance of resonating more with your daily life and struggles than anything you hear on Top 40 radio.

This post was inspired by an existing Disney trope called the “I Want” song. It exists because it’s true: every princess – every human, for that matter – has a want. So does Simba, but he’s a boy so he doesn’t count right now.

Belle is a quirky reader-type who wants adventure “in the great wide somewhere”.

Snow White wishes for the love she loves to find her. (ok, maybe that’s a bit of a passive desire, but this is an old movie, y’all)

Ariel wants to be a part of our world.

Rapunzel wants her life to begin.

Elsa wants to “let it go,” while Anna just wants to know if Elsa wants to build a snowman.

Moana wants to see how far she’ll go.

And Mulan wants to see her true reflection.

That’s a lot of wanting, ain’t it?

I mean, the only princess who supposedly doesn’t have a “want” is Pocahontas. According to the film’s director, Eric Goldberg. Pocahontas already has her shit together – her role is to show the rest of us what we’re missing. Which is actually a pretty bold and important statement in favor of respecting our Native American culture when you really think about it.

But while wants are important driving traits of our favorite movie characters, I’m actually more interested in re-framing these moments to get a clearer view of the power these women present.

While the idea of a “Want Song” may sound greedy, it is actually the wants of many of these princesses that gives them personality and drives their stories towards something important. It’s what gets them going. It’s what makes their stories worth sharing.

Belle seemingly gives up on her dreams when she agrees to be a prisoner in the Beast’s castle.

Snow White runs through a lot of scary trees and breaks into someone’s house to escape the wicked queen.

Ariel sacrifices her voice in exchange for legs and love.

Rapunzel jumps out of a tower to find her freedom.

Elsa builds her own castle out of ice so she can get away for a minute.

Moana makes an old boat come back to life and sets out on the sea.

And Mulan disguises herself as a man and joins the frickin’ Chinese army.

It’s not about what they want – it’s about what they’re willing to do to get what they want. And what they’re willing to do isn’t selfish or weak – it’s risky. It’s tough. And in the end – most of them end up earning what they want in ways they never expected.

So what does this mean for the rest of us?

Well, you might say we should be building Princess Power Playlists to inspire us through our morning commutes (sing-along sessions highly recommended).

But the better thing would be to allow ourselves the time it takes to examine our deepest wishes, our biggest goals – and discover what we’re willing to do to get there.

Want a boyfriend? Make that dating profile!

Wish you were stronger? Start lifting!

Need a better job? Get on those applications!

Feel passionate about an issue? Find out how you can volunteer!

Looking for your voice? Then write something – anything! – even a quick blog post on Disney princesses.

You see, those first tiny steps we can take to get closer to our dreams – even if they don’t come to life in 90 minutes or less (which I can pretty much guarantee they won’t) – the better we will feel about ourselves, our power, and our futures.

We don’t have to marry a prince.

We don’t have to have magical powers.

We don’t even have to put our lives at risk in the literal wilderness.

We just have to be the women we are. Wild women. Wild women who are pursuing what matters to them.

So listen to us sing. Hear us roar. And then . . . watch us conquer.