There seems to be a stigma that badass female characters can’t do anything traditionally feminine. This is a trope called Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses.
DIsney has gotten a lot of flak for this, especially with their princess line. To many people, it expresses many of the negative stereotypes of femininity. The video below puts it pretty well.
While I must find I agree with some of the points raised in the video, it still reminds me of a pet peeve I have. One of my pet peeves is when someone tells me that strong females characters have to act a certain way.
I feel that being feminism is about equality. I want to be treated equal. It should be up to a women what kind of clothes she wears, what she likes, etc. A women can be a badass fighter who still likes pink and dressing up.
On the topic of Disney, let’s talk about Rapunzel of Tangled.
On first glance, she seems like a stereotypical girly girl. Long flowing blonde hair, pink dress, loves to paint, etc. Many who believe that femininity portrays a weak character.
But it doesn’t.
Rapunzel is never portrayed by just how she appears. She’s energetic, upbeat, strong-willed, and determined. It’s isn’t a big deal whether she’s feminine or not.
And she really knows how to use that frying pan.
GIF made by me
Let’s compare and contrast that to Merida from Brave.
Merida is portrayed like a tomboy. She’d rather be doing more traditionally masculine things like mountain climbing and archery to traditional feminine things. If it weren’t for the fact that Brave is set in historical Scotland, she probably would’t be in a dress.
GIF made by me
But that’s not the main point of Merida’s story.
Brave is about the relationship between Merida and her mother, who is much more traditionally feminine. Neither one really tries to understand one another. This leads to Merida making a extremely unwise decision. She goes to a witch, hoping to have her change her mother so that she would except her point of view. This ends up changing her mother into a bear.
Anyway, the point of the film is that they both need to understand one another and make compromises to return the mother to normal. Both of their views are valid, but they both have flaws. Neither being a tomboy or a girly girl is better or worse. They have to understand each other.
As you can see, Disney and Pixar definitely portray femininity and being a tomboy in different ways. However, many hate these movies no matter what they do. They seem to always find something wrong.
But in my opinion, neither being feminine or a tomboy is better or worse. I grew up with Disney Princess films, The Lion King, the Aladdin TV series, Barbie, Star Wars, Powerpuff Girls, among others. As a kid, I was more a girly girl, yes, but I also had more tomboyish desires. But that’s not the case for everyone.
People of both genders should have the option of being who they want to be.
Real women CAN wear dresses (But they don’t have to if they don’t want to)