Things I've Learned from Disney Princesses

disney princesses selfie

I was a little nostalgic this week and read some of my older posts — you know, the ones where I committed to putting more time into this blog and finding more time for myself… those ones. Obviously, life happened and it does make me sad that I didn’t fulfill something I really wanted to do for myself.

That said, it’s never too late right? Rather than feel sorry for myself, I felt inspired. The Little Mermaid’s 30th anniversary is this year (don’t worry Ariel, you don’t look a day over 14) and what better way to celebrate my favorite Disney Princess’ celebration than to share what my favorite Disney Princesses have taught me and how they’ve inspired me. Obviously, I could find “Lessons Learned” and “Inspirational Moments'“ for every Disney Princess — but then we’d be here forever and you’d never read my blog ever again. So I’ve picked six!


Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”

ariel little mermaid gif i want more
risa xu little mermaid disneybound

Ariel is hands down my favorite Disney Princess.

I know, I know — that famous line where she proclaims she’s 16 and not a child anymore isn’t necessarily the best thing for a little girl to look up to but, hey, can we give Disney the credit that they’ve acknowledged we all go through a teenage rebellious phase?

What really inspires me about Ariel is her fearlessness and sense of adventure. Growing up in Las Vegas, I didn’t know what else was out there. Sure, I’d traveled a bunch with my parents while touring with the acrobat troupe via circuses but I never really understood what was out there for me, but similar to Ariel, I wanted to find out. The feeling of wanting to be part of some other world is what truly resonated with me and really drove me to study abroad in Japan.

And, of course, she’s a mermaid. Can’t argue with that right?


Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”

belle beauty and the beast books
risa xu be our guest beast meet and greet

Even though I love Ariel, if I had to actually pick a Princess I felt that I was most like, it would have to be Belle.

Something I hope that I embody is seeing the good in others, regardless of outward appearances and especially in the face of rumors and hearsay. That’s not to say to blindly always believe that someone is good — I’m not naive enough to believe that people aren’t capable of doing awful, bad things — but it’s more that you should learn and get to know someone for yourself before listening to others’ opinions. I tend to always give people the benefit of the doubt in most situations, and although this may be to my detriment, I think it’s always best to assume the best in others.

Belle, similarly to Ariel, craves adventure (in the great wide somewhere) but she reads LOTS. If you ask my dad, he’ll tell you that he’s still holding onto books of all genres from when I lived at home and if you ask my husband, well, don’t get him started. We actually have a TBR (“to be read”) cart in our living room.


Mulan from “Mulan”

I’ll admit — Mulan holds a special place in my heart because, not only is the movie based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, but she really was the first time I ever saw someone that looked remotely like me in a major animated feature. I remember buying the “how we made Mulan” book published by Disney and read all about the research about ancient China and its history. I can honestly say that with the release of Mulan, I became more interested in where my family came from and ultimately, helped me to appreciate my family’s culture and the rich history that comes being Chinese.

Mulan really showed me the power that lives in each of us and how we can overcome all types of adversity. One of my favorite quotes from any Disney movie is the one below, from the Emperor. A trait I always admire is resilience — I’ve talked about this a lot from marathon training to other personal struggles — and if there’s any princess that wholly owns that word, I think it’s Mulan.

And really, at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to be a badass woman who saves an entire country?

mulan adversity flower emperor quote

Merida from “Brave”

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Does everyone have a phase where they fight with their mother or is it just me and Merida?

My mom and I have never had the best of relationships—people close to me know that I’m incredibly close with my dad. That said, Brave surfaced feelings I don’t think I ever really confronted within myself about my relationship with my mom. Aside from the obvious “Choose your fate” lesson Merida and Brave really drive home, what really stuck with me was the lesson to think about things from my mom’s point of view. I may not always understand her decision in the moment (or even years after) but that doesn’t mean that I should just push aside her opinions.

Merida also taught me to not do things in anger or in haste — though we wouldn’t have had a movie if she didn’t turn her mom and brothers into bears.


Moana from “Moana”

moana wave high five

Moana BLEW my mind the first time I watched it and makes me sob every time. There are so many things I could say about the movie itself—from the animation to the talent to the music—but I’m no film expert so let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

I have such strong feelings about Moana that I could probably write an entire piece about her and the movie but I’ll save that for another time and another post.

When “How Far I’ll Go” was released, there was one line I couldn’t stop going back to:

”I wish, I could be the perfect daughter. But I come back to the water. No matter how hard I try.”

I’ve always talked about my trip to Japan as a positive but I’ve never talked about how against it my parents were. I felt trapped growing up in Las Vegas—I needed something more and I could never really explain what that something was. This song, almost line-for-line, describes exactly what it felt like.

I‘ve always known my parents would have preferred me to be closer to home. They know that this was the best thing for me—to go out and explore the world and to be my best self—but even today, they still say something along the lines of “You’re just so far” at least once a week.

That was a long way of saying, Moana helped me feel better about my decision to move away from home. Yes, she eventually returns home but it’s so she can help restore the island to its roots and to lead her people on an adventure.


Rapunzel from “Tangled”

rapunzel tangled lanterns

I must admit… it took me a while to actually sit down and watch Tangled (same goes for Brave) — but when I finally watched it, it immediately became a favorite of mine. Rapunzel’s determination to chase her dream and her ability to stay true to who she is, regardless of what’s come her way, are qualities I admire.

From how she handles the rougher folks at The Snuggly Duckling, to the pure joy and wonder on her face as she watches the lanterns float across the sky, to her ultimate decision to confront Mother Gothel at the end… I must say that Punzie is high on my list of favorite Disney Princesses ever. I hope to never lose the wonder, hope, and general positive outlook on situations just like Punzie.


Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is obviously not an exhaustive list (trust me, you don’t want me writing that long of a blog post.) So I want to hear from you — who’s your favorite Disney Princess? And how has she inspired you or what lessons has she taught you?