We’ve heard stories of Disney slipping in some questionable or inappropriate material in their movies every now and then, like on the original The Little Mermaid VHS cover where the underwater castle has a very phallic looking tower at the top. Some of these have been debunked, like when the letters S-E-X are supposedly spelled out in the dust in The Lion King. One of the animators has said that they did put a hidden message in that scene but it spells out S-F-X, which is a shout out to the special effects department.
The Disney Princesses are one of the biggest money-makers in Disney, with their movies and merchandise making them a multi-billion-dollar franchise. In order to be a Disney Princess, there are a number of requirements that need to be met, including being human, but not all Disney Princesses are technically princesses as the true definition states: being the daughter of a monarch or the wife of a prince. Mulan, for example, is neither of these things. There are also some Disney leading ladies who seem like they should be Disney Princesses, but, for whatever reason, they didn't make the cut.
Disney Princesses are super popular and mainly marketed towards little girls, and some of them are really wholesome and make good role models. There are definitely some questionable things they do, like letting creepy strangers into their home and taking food from them (Snow White), or falling in love with someone who is technically their captor (Belle), and these problematic things are well known and widely discussed. However, there are some very questionable Disney Princesses and leading lady moments which have seemingly gone unnoticed or aren’t really discussed – even though they aren’t exactly subtle.
So, here are 10 raunchy Disney Princess moments you didn’t notice, and 5 wholesome Disney Princess moments, you know, just so your childhood isn't completely ruined.
15 Megara bending over and seducing Hercules - Hercules
Meg is another Disney leading lady who, unfairly, hasn't been given Disney Princess status. Hercules is the son of gods, and his parents happen to be the king and queen of the gods! Surely that makes Meg, his girlfriend, some type of princess goddess? But, for some reason, she doesn't meet the Disney Princess criteria. Meg is not your typical Disney leading lady. She seems pretty mature, like she could be mid 20s, while other Disney ladies are usually in their teens. She's also sarcastic, cynical, independent, and, at first, she is only using Hercules to help Hades.
In the scene, Meg has just been saved by Hercules. She's wet from falling in the river and when Hercules comes to see if she's OK she bends over, right in front of him, flipping her wet hair. During their conversation she's flirty, her voice getting deep and seductive. Then, as she walks away, her hips sway in an exaggerated way. It's not surprising Hercules can't help staring after her in a daze.
14 Jasmine pretending to seduce Jafar – Aladdin
In the scene, Jafar has Jasmine chained up and is trying to force her to marry him. Jasmine keeps refusing at first, until she sees Aladdin sneaking into the palace window behind Jafar. So, in an attempt to distract Jafar so he won’t see Aladdin, she starts pretending that she actually wants him.
She walks over to him seductively, swinging her hips and lowering her voice, telling him: ‘I never realised how incredibly handsome you are.’ Even the genie’s jaw drops in shock when he sees her raunchy behaviour. Jafar then calls her ‘Pussycat’ as he asks her to tell him more. Jasmine continues to tell him how wonderful he is and she ends up even having to kiss him. The red outfit and gold jewelry Jafar has made Jasmine wear in the scene, even though it’s very similar to her other blue-green outfit, also adds to how seductive she looks.
13 Cinderella stripping off to take a shower – Cinderella
This is towards the beginning of the film where we are introduced to Cinderella. She is woken up by the clock chiming and she sings a song while starting to get dressed for the day. All the little birds and mice help her out, shining her shoes, sewing up a hole in her dress, laying out the dress on a chair for her. Then they dip a sponge in a bowl of water and Cinderella steps behind a screen, strips off, and they squeeze the wet sponge out over her head – wait, what?
OK, this one is pretty tame, and we don’t see anything but Cinderella’s back, but considering it was made in 1950, and it is geared towards children, was it really necessary to have Cinderella strip off? I mean, it wasn’t even a proper shower. Who gets clean from a bit of water squeezed out of a sponge?
12 Ariel in the buff after changing into a human – The Little Mermaid
Ariel’s outfit is already a little inappropriate. She only wears a tiny seashell bikini top. However, we can let it slide because she is a mermaid after all. What else can she wear underwater? In fact, in the original fairy tale depictions, the mermaids were topless. But the scene after she has been transformed into a human is, well, questionable.
She is almost fully nude, which is expected, because she wasn’t wearing anything on her bottom half before she transformed. However, Disney really pushes the limit of how much of her they cover. While she’s sitting in the water, the water only really covers her private area. It’s even low enough to show her belly button. Likewise, when Ariel is standing up, we can see the area way below her belly button. Plus, her male animal friends, Flounder, Sebastian and Scuttle are all there casually watching her nude. OK, they probably don’t know much about human private parts but it’s still kind of awkward.
11 Pocahontas and John Smith making out - Pocahontas
I’ve always thought Pocahontas was a little too mature for kids. Some of the themes in the film seem too mature and complex for kids to understand, the story is (very loosely) based on a real historical figure, and Pocahontas is the only Disney Princess who doesn’t get a standard happy ending. Instead, John Smith has to go back to England to treat his gunshot wound and Pocahontas chooses to stay in Virginia with her tribe.
So, the fact that the movie has some moments that feel very adult is not surprising. For example, the interactions between John Smith and Pocahontas seem pretty charged with sexual tension. The kiss between them is probably the best example of this. Usually, Disney kisses consist of the characters tilting their heads to the side and pressing their lips together. The movie usually ends there, in a freeze frame.
However, in Pocahontas, during their kiss Pocahontas ends up wrapping her arms around John Smith’s neck, while John Smith ends up wrapping his arms around her waist, their bodies are pressed together, and their kiss lasts a pretty long time. In fact, it only ends when Kocoum, the guy Pocahontas is supposed to marry, rushes out of the bushes, where he has been watching them, and attacks John in a jealous rage. And who can blame him? The kiss was hot!
10 Nala and Simba rolling around in the grass – The Lion King
Ok, so Nala isn’t a Disney Princess, mostly because she’s not human – which I think is totally unfair, by the way. However, she marries Simba, who is the Lion King, and when she and Simba were kids, he was a prince and she was ‘betrothed’ to him, according to Zazu, which makes her close enough to a princess in my book.
When Simba and Nala are grown up and reunite in Timon and Pumbaa’s homeland, they go off and spend some time alone to get reacquainted. They frolic in the beautiful oasis, chasing each other around like they used to do when they were kids. But when ‘Can you feel the love tonight?’ starts playing in the background, things get a little more serious. They roll around and Simba ends up falling on top of her. She licks him on the cheek and when he looks at her in surprise, she gives him a very seductive ‘come hither’ look. Now, I know they’re lions but there’s no doubt serious chemistry between the two.
9 General Shang wanting to see if Mulan is really a girl – Mulan
During a battle with Shan Yu’s army, Mulan manages to start an avalanche, killing most of Shan Yu’s men. However, Shan Yu manages to wound her by slashing her on the torso with his sword. Mulan still manages to save Shang from falling off the edge of the cliff before collapsing from her wound. In the next scene, Shang and Mulan’s friends wait outside a tent while she is being treated. The person treating Mulan comes out of the tent and whispers something to Shang. We assume he tells him that Mulan is a girl, because Shang looks shocked and then storms into the tent.
Now, what’s awkward is the fact that Shang goes into the tent after he finds out she’s a girl. Maybe he wanted to see for himself that it was true, however, what exactly was he hoping to see? When he goes into the tent, Mulan’s blanket falls off, revealing her bandaged body, which is obviously a female body, and if she wasn’t conveniently bandaged up, Shang would have seen a lot more of her. This one is not exactly raunchy, but it’s awkward when you think about it. Shang totally wanted to perv on Mulan.
8 Esmeralda pole dancing in the street - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Esmeralda is not a Disney Princess, but she's the main lady in the movie so I think she definitely needs to be on this list. This movie is based on the novel by Victor Hugo, and while it has been watered down like all Disney adaptations, Disney surprisingly left some parts from the original story in it that are not exactly kid friendly.
Like the fact that Judge Claude Frollo, a super religious judge, hates Esmeralda just because he is secretly obsessing and lusting over her and wants her for himself. He even sings a creepy song about how much he wants her, with lyrics like: "This burning desire is turning me to sin". Then, when Esmeralda refuses to accept his offer of becoming his, he tries to have her burned at the stake. Also, let's not forget Esmeralda's dancing scene, where she basically does some pole dancing and a little lap dance on Judge Frollo. Yeah, this Disney movie is another one that is definitely a little too mature.
7 Tarzan looking up Jane's skirt - Tarzan
Tarzan spends most of the movie running around the jungle in nothing but a tiny loin cloth. How he doesn't end up flashing us, with all the jumping up on tree branches, swinging from vines and crawling around he does, is definitely unrealistic, but let's not forget it's Disney, after all. Besides, it's nice to have a male character in a barely-there outfit for once. However, Tarzan's lack of clothing isn't the only awkward thing in the movie. There's also the scene where Tarzan and Jane first meet.
In the scene, Tarzan isn't used to seeing someone wearing clothing, and he isn't used to seeing human females either. So, naturally, he's curious, touching Jane and feeling her clothes. But then he gets a little too curious and basically starts groping her and lifting her skirt to get a peek at what she's got going on under there - even though she tells him to get off. Jane manages to kick him away before he sees too much, but, damn Disney, this scene is totally inappropriate.
6 Anna and Hans falling all over each other - Frozen
Anna isn't a Disney Princess. Surprising, seeing as she's actually a princess from birth and her movie is the highest-grossing animated film of all time. However, Frozen's success is the reason why Anna and Elsa aren't classed as Disney Princesses. The Disney Princesses are a franchise, and Frozen is making Disney so much money it has become its own franchise, so Disney is keeping Anna and Elsa out of the Disney Princess lineup, for now.
Even though Frozen is popular with the kids, it's not surprising that Disney has still managed to slip in some awkward, not-so-kid-friendly moments in the movie. Like the scene where Anna and Hans first meet. OK, it's supposed to be one of those awkward, romantic-comedy type of meetings, where the two main characters bump into each other and they get all flustered because they're attracted to each other.
But Disney goes a little further. Instead of simply bumping into each other, Hans falls on top of Anna in a compromising position, and then Anna falls on top of him, they talk about how awkward it is, and then Anna accidentally calls Hans 'gorgeous'. I mean, is it really necessary for characters in a kid's movie to have sexual tension, Disney?
Princesses and Leading Ladies Who Were Good Girls:
5 Snow White in basically every scene she's in - Snow White
Not all Disney Princesses and leading ladies have been tarnished by Disney's need for inappropriate moments. There are still a few who are exactly as untainted as you remember and expect them to be. Here are some wholesome Disney Princesses and the lessons and teaching moments in their movies you probably noticed.
Snow White was Disney's first animated feature film and Snow White is the first Disney Princess. She's quite a passive character who just basically waits for things to happen to her, she spends a lot of the movie cooking and cleaning, and she has to rely on a man to save her.
However, the film was made in 1937 so I think we can excuse a lot of those negative points as a product of its time. Plus, apart from letting strangers into her home and eating strange food from them, Snow White isn't too bad. She's kind, respectful and gentle, and she keeps the house clean!
4 Aurora meeting Prince Phillip in the woods - Sleeping Beauty
Aurora is another Disney Princess who doesn't do much in her movie. She's asleep for a lot of it and only has around 18 lines of dialogue throughout the whole film. Sleeping Beauty is the quintessential Disney movie, though, with all the fairytale tropes including a king, queen, princess, prince, castle, fairies, and an evil fairy/witch. Likewise, the meeting between the princess and the prince is innocent and sweet. They meet in the woods, but instead of falling all over each other in awkward positions (ahem, Anna), all they do is dance and fall in love instantly.
3 Tiana, in general - The Princess And The Frog
Tiana is probably the most wholesome Disney Princess because she is the best role model for little girls. Unlike some of the other Disney Princesses, Tiana doesn't even make any questionable decisions, like selling her voice to a witch in order to achieve her dreams (ahem, Ariel). Instead she works hard and saves up, she has ambition and she doesn't rely on a prince to save her. Plus, even though she ends up marrying Prince Naveen, she still starts up her restaurant business, showing that women can get married and still have a career or achieve their dreams. The movie is also very kid friendly - except for some of the creepy Shadow Man scenes - and there are no inappropriate moments. Another quintessential Disney movie.
2 Rapunzel being cautious of strangers - Tangled
One of the traits most of the Disney Princesses have in common is being very comfortable with strangers. OK, the strangers they meet usually tend to be good guys they end up falling in love with, but that's not always the case (ahem, Anna, Snow White), and they don't know whether these people are trustworthy when they first meet them. This is not great when you think about the fact that the movies are marketed towards little girls.
Rapunzel, however, doesn't trust any strangers - especially men - and it's because of exaggerated things her captor/fake mother has told her over the years, but, hey, telling a child to not trust strangers is not such a terrible thing. Rapunzel is also brave, smart, and she wants to be independent. Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert is not the conventional prince type love interest. He's a thief on the run, he actually has a personality, which is something the majority of Disney Princes are lacking, and the movie is wholesome yet hilarious with no raunchy moments to be found.
1 Belle not wanting Gaston even though he's good looking - Beauty And The Beast
There are a lot of good things about Belle. She likes to read, she's smart, she's independent and she's brave. She's also not into Gaston - who is dumb, narcissistic and treats her like an object - just because he's good looking. Most of the other Disney Princesses seem to fall in love instantly without even knowing the guy, and it seems like their good looks play a big part in that. Belle is clearly not all about looks, seeing as she falls in love with, literally, a beast, and that's a good message to pass on to little girls.
Also, apart from the beast's violent temper, and the fact that Belle is technically his prisoner, and the fact that he's, well, a beast, there aren't any questionable moments in the movie... OK, so there are quite a few questionable things about the movie, however, at least there aren't any raunchy scenes!
Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube