5 Bo-Po, Feminist Things We'd Like to See in 'Beauty and the Beast'
By Palmer Hipp--If you haven’t seen the official trailer for the new live-action Beauty and the Beast by now, then stop everything you’re doing and watch it here. Not only is Beauty and the Beast one of my favorite Disney movies (tied with Mulan, obviously), but also superwoman Emma Watson is set to play Belle.
As a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and the voice of the HeForShe Campaign, Watson promotes equality for all; a true embodiment of feminism. Most actresses/actors are not chosen for scripts based on their private lives, but I believe Disney chose Watson in an attempt to revamp the original with a progressive and female-empowered twist (her acting probably didn’t hurt either).
Disney princesses are continuously critiqued for their stereotypical gender roles. While this is true, these movies are a clear reflection of their time. As a loyal Disney fan, I will always defend the stories and the women I grew up with and look at their positive attributes, especially Belle. Belle is courageous, assertive and intelligent; she has a desire to explore and the guts to stand up to jerks like Gaston.
Related: Cinderella and the Hidden Princesses
However, like other Disney movies, Beauty and the Beast’s characters represent Western standards of beauty, meaning they are thin, young, white and attractive and they fit into the traditional gender roles. The remake has a chance to quash these stereotypes and present viewers with an improved body positive and feminist version of the classic.
I have come up with five things I’d like to see in the live-action Beauty and the Beast so it can become…
“A Tale as ‘New’ as Time”
1. Belle’s independence and intelligence
Belle is unlike other Disney princesses. She’s independent. In the original movie, our first glimpse of Belle is when she is reading and talking about her plans to travel and find adventure. I would love to see a powerful scene with Belle shutting down Gaston’s proposal and an ending where we get a glimpse into the adventurous future Belle always dreamed of.
2. Diverse characters
If Disney plans on making this a modern and progressive remake, it must include relationships between female characters, and represent a broad spectrum of people. That means losing Western beauty standards and promoting diversity.
3. Challenging the status quo
Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s first progressive and feminist-type movies. I’m imagining a commanding scene where Belle tells everyone off for calling her weird for reading books and calling her father “crazy,” but we’ll see how the writers and directors choose to address these issues.
A modernized Beauty and the Beast relationship needs to lose the abuse and represent equal partnerships. Sure, let the Beast be mad. Honestly, if someone gave me the head of a buffalo, the mane of a lion, the brow of a gorilla, tusks of a wild boar, legs of a wolf and the body of a bear, I would be frustrated too. That’s understandable, but abusing a woman is not. Hopefully, Disney models a healthier relationship for its viewers.
In the original Beauty and the Beast, the Beast only begins to accept himself when Belle does. This is not the message we want to be sending kids. I want the Beast to realize his worth; I want him to see his value and truly love himself before he and Belle fall in love, so that others can see that self-worth does not come from others. Loving yourself must come before anything else.
About the blogger: Palmer Hipp is studying in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. She hopes to obtain a MSW, aspiring to become an activist for social justice issues. She devotes her time toward breaking the stigma against mental illness and eating disorders as well as promoting awareness and education to mental health issues and violence against women.