These four princesses were disney’s attempts at diversifying the princess brand to include princesses children other than blonde, white girls with big blue eyes. Unlike the “first wave” of princesses, they were a lot more idenependent, a lot less passive, and they could stand up for themselves and for what they believed in. Mulan and Pocahantas actually save their love interests.
While these princesses showed a shift in the princess discourse, there were still blatant gender stereotypes in the movies. Jasmine’s story was completely narrated by Aladdin, thus taking control from her. Pocahantas was afraid of John Smith when she first met him, and in Mulan, the major songs have to do with what a proper wife should be (Matchmaker and a girl worth fighting for), and how to be a man (I’ll make a man out of you).
Tiana, Disney’s first black princess is just as independent as the rest and aspires to own her own restaurant. Even after she marries prince Naveen, she secures her restaurant by her own means. Much better than previous princesses. Yet of course Disney avoids the race issue completely by not addressing the racism a black woman in the 1920s south and making her green (as a frog) for the majority of the movie. Talk about mishandling.
Despite this, Disney did ok with these girls. I will leave you with clips of the Mulan songs (A girl worth fighting for and the matchmaker song)