The Disney Princesses: Self-Help Books

I am incredibly focused on self-help books these days – probably because I wrote one (, but I can’t help wondering what various characters might write about if they wrote their own self-help story. I have covered male super heroes ( and their female counterparts ( What kind of mom of a 10-year-old girl would I be if I didn’t explore those fabulous Disney Princesses?  I could have any or all of them write about their mommy-issues (seriously what is up with moms in fairy tales? They are either dead or evil?), but I tried to go a different direction here.  Let me know what you think – did I screw the whole thing up? Is my daughter going to be pissed?

  1. Cinderella: the pretty princess in blue had a hard road of it. Her mother died when she was a young child and her father remarried a woman with two daughters who all hate her. To top it all off, her father dies leaving her to be raised by these hateful ladies. Cinderella was turned into a house servant cooking and cleaning for her emotionally abusive step-family. This young lady needed to learn how to assert herself and set appropriate boundaries with others – unfortunately, she wasn’t able to until she met the Prince. Title: No One’s Servant: Brushing off the Cinders.
  1. Belle: the only child being raised by an absent-minded inventor father, Belle was frequently left to her own devices. This found her often with her nose in a book. She didn’t seem to have many friends though she was friendly with all the people in their small town. The locals often commented on how odd they found it that Belle read so many books. (Surprise – a smart girl!) The story details Belle being taken hostage by a Beast who was terribly mean and ends with their falling in love. I’m not going to comment on the Stockholm Syndrome demonstrated here. (Stockholm Syndrome I when a hostage starts to develop positive feelings for their captor and will even protect them against the police.) Belle’s contribution would best focus on the importance of girls valuing and having pride in their own intellect. Title: Knowledge is Power
  1. Sleeping Beauty: Aurora was born to the King and Queen. Fairies were invited to a party to bestow gifts on the child, but one fairy was left out, got pissed and cursed the child. She would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die on her 16th The King and Queen tried to protect their child by sending Aurora away so she would not be able to be near a spinning wheel on her birthday. Aurora learned the truth and returned to the castle, pricking her finger and falling asleep. She was saved by the kiss from a prince. If only she had listened to her parents and waited one more day! Title: Want a Long Life? Listen to your Parents!
  1. Ariel: The Little Mermaid was raised under the sea by her father, King Triton, along with her many sisters. I think her mother was killed when Ariel was super young. Ariel was in love with Prince Eric (though they hadn’t really met) and wanted a set of legs more than anything. She was not satisfied with her mermaid tail. Even once she and Eric fell in love, there was no discussion of his becoming a merman (is that a word?) and instead Ariel permanently sacrificed her tail and kept a set of legs. She could write an amazing book about the importance of loving and accepting yourself as you are and not changing for others. Title: Loving Myself – Tail and All.
  1. Snow White: Anther young woman being raised by a single father after her mother dies young. What else? Oh, yeah, he married an evil women who hated her, dies and leaves her alone with an unloving stepmother. This stepmother was horribly vain and could not tolerate Snow White surpassing her in beauty. Mommy Dearest then ordered the huntsman to take her into the forest and cut out her heart. Long story short, the evil queen is vanquished and Snow White finds true love in the arms of a prince. Along the way, Snow White became friends with seven little men who she came to consider her family. She could offer advice about the power of friendship and how you can, sometimes, choose who to include in your family. Title: The Power of Friendship: Banishing the Darkness.
  1. Tiana: Tiana is a hardworking waitress in New Orleans who dreams of owning her own restaurant. Her progress is briefly derailed when she is turned into a frog and falls in love with a prince who was also turned into a frog. Tiana is the only Disney Princess who has an official job. Tiana did not rely on magic to make her dreams come true, but instead saved money by working hard so she could buy her restaurant. The lesson she could share best with others is the importance and value of hard work. Title: Making your Dreams Come True – Be your Own Fairy Godmother.
  1. Jasmine: Jasmine was being raised in a life of privilege by her single father (again… no mom), the sultan of Agrabah. There were certain expectations of Jasmine, the most important being that she would marry a wealthy man of whom her father would approve. This was a tough pill for Jasmine to swallow. She wanted adventure and to see the world, but most importantly, she wanted to marry for love, not for money or status. She could offer guidance on knowing your own mind and standing up for what you believe. Title: Not JUST my Father’s Daughter
  1. Mulan: Mulan is a young woman being raised in China by her mother, father and grandmother. When her father, an injured war veteran, is called back into service, Mulan disguises herself as a male and enters the service in his place. Mulan initially struggles in the service, but quickly learns how to use her intellect to overcome any physical weaknesses she may have related to her male counterparts. Of course, she also falls in love (hey, it is Disney). Readers would benefit from learning about how to find alternate solutions to life’s problems. Title: Thinking Outside the Box (or Dress)
  1. Rapunzel: In the Disney version, soldiers of a King and ailing Queen discovered a magical flower that was given to and healed the Queen. When their child was born, she had golden hair that glowed and could heal others when she sang a specific song. An evil woman kidnapped the young child and locked her away in a tower so she could keep the magical powers all to herself. Rapunzel creatively found ways to keep herself entertained the many weeks, months and years she was locked away. Of course, a dashing man helps to save her and reunite with her parents (and falls in love with her), but her book would not be about a love story, instead it would be about the importance of the arts and creativity. Title: Saved by the Arts: Painting my Way out of the Tower
  1. Pocahantas: Pocahantas is being raised by her father, the Chief of the Powatan tribe, following her mother’s death (another dead mom). She is fearful she will be forced to marry a warrior from her village when she encounters an Englishman, John Smith. They fall in love which exacerbates tensions between the tribe and the English leading to many injuries and deaths. John Smith is nearly executed, but is allowed to return to England once Pocahantas begs for his life. She is the only princess who does not end up with her man at the end of her story. This relationship is not the most interesting thing about her, rather it is her connection to nature. Pocahantas talks with plants and animals and feels affinity with them. Title: Being One with Nature: Connections are All Around You.

I know there are more princesses left uncovered, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Off the top of my head, I missed Elsa from Frozen and Merida from Brave. Was there anyone else? What do you think their stories might have been? Maybe Elsa could have written something about facing your fears. Merida – the importance of family maybe? Thoughts?

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