Emma Watson is Freeing Belle from the Corset
By Victoria James--The live-action remake of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast is set to be released in March 2017. Starring as Belle in this new movie is Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who is working toward redefining the standards of what it takes to be a princess.
Watson, who is a self-proclaimed feminist and a UN Women Global Ambassador, is well-known for her advocacy for women’s equality. The film’s costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, told Entertainment Weekly the new approach she wanted to take for the character of Belle, stating that Watson wanted to portray her character as an “active” princess who can hold her own – who is not just an object of desire known solely for her beauty.
As a result of this vision, there will be no corset under the yellow ball gown the princess dances in during the iconic song “Beauty and the Beast.”
Watson expressed that she did not want Belle’s movement to be restricted; rather, she wants to show that she is active – symbolizing her physical freedom. Belle’s personality was more important to Watson than what is expected of the appearance of a princess.
The fight for women’s equality has taken major strides since Belle’s era. Disney princesses are now seen as controversial because most of the time they are used as objects for their love interests and valued only for their appearance – creating a standard that only women who look a certain way can be successful, and that a woman’s greatest achievement is finding a man.
Watson fighting for Belle’s freedom from the corset is significant for her character’s independence and body positive message, making the statement that princesses don’t need to look a certain way in a ballgown. Media tactics, like using corsets or requiring actresses to go on extreme diets for roles, can distort society’s views of how women “should” look and promote body negativity. Watson, however, chose to defy these ideals and use her role to empower women and young girls who look up to princesses. This reminds them that they can have goals and ambitions, be equally as smart and capable as men, and that their value does not lie in the size of their waist.
Belle translates to “beauty” from French, and Watson is taking strides to ensure that the beauty of this princess goes beyond her appearance to focus on her heart, her intelligence, and her courage.