Top Ten Animated Girlfriends: Disney’s Leading Women

I don’t wanna hear it–animated characters are hot. Let’s talk about the ones I’d like to date. Oh, here’s some clarifying rules for the list.

1. Disney does not equal Pixar
2. Only 2D-animated characters allowed
3. No animals or otherwise non-human characters allowed
4. Must be of at least teenager age
5. Must star in at least one of Disney’s canon movies
6. Let’s pretend that all sequels did not happen

Worthwhile Mention


Princess Anna from Arendelle unfortunately does not qualify for this list since she’s animated under Disney’s new regime of computer animated films and not their traditionally animated films. If this wasn’t the case, she’d make #3 on this list, kicking out Mulan for sure. I think Princess Anna, with her bubbly and ditsy personality, is incredibly attractive in the green dress she wears to her sister’s coronation, but the pig tails she adopts later in the movie definitely fits the more cutesy vibe the writers of Frozen wanted to give her. She contrasts drastically from her more elegant but bordering villain sister Elsa who largely steals the show with the song’s famous (infamous?) number, Let It Go, and the new sparkly dress she concocts for herself during it. Still, even if Anna is often overlooked and almost fell victim to douchebag Hans’ ploy, I would totally date Anna over Elsa.

Number Ten


Whoa whoa whoa, before all the feminists in the room start throwing a fit, give me a chance to explain. Mulan, well, she’s the type of woman who you’d rather marry than date. I agree, her personality may be the best of them all, but I have a hard time putting her any higher than this spot on my list. Honestly, she’s a little boring. She doesn’t seem to have any hobbies, although I guess you could argue she develops some through the army, such as fishing, archery, and karate. She has an amazing singing voice, but never seems to enjoy using it; it’s more of an outlet to release her frustration and what not. And that’s the thing, I don’t think there’s a moment when she’s excited for anything. Maybe it’s because she’s so humble and mature, but Mulan is usually the girl who gets friend-zoned in those romantic comedies. But not on my list! She should definitely be included in any guy’s top ten list, and even higher for those who digs tomboys. As summed up by the emperor:

Emperor: The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.
Prince Shang: Sir?
Emperor: You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.

Well said, emperor.

Number Nine


Cinderella: A dream, is a wish, your heart makes…

As arguably the most iconic of the Disney princesses, Cinderella comes in at number nine on this list not because of her popularity, but because of her heart. I imagine Cinderella being the girl at school who never had any time to hang out, worked her butt off for straight A’s, and was known for her endearing lady-like mannerisms. She would totally attract the more conservative dudes, making all the girls hate her even more. With beautiful blue eyes and a rich singing voice, Cinderella is the girl who everybody was talking about but nobody really knew. Although considered weird by many, that was (unfortunately) the worst thing any girl could think to call her. This isn’t to say Cinderella doesn’t have flaws, as she’d probably be swept away by the first handsome, rich guy who asks her to prom in the most romantic way. If you get Cinderella to say yes, you know she’s probably winning prom queen with the dress she’s going to be wearing. Superficial at times? Maybe, but Cinderella is that quintessential prom date.

Number Eight


Tiana: I’m aaalmooost theeere!

I’m not sure if anybody else feels the same way, but Tiana most reminds me of Cinderella, so it only makes sense she comes in at number eight on this list. Tiana is Louisana’s next youngest millionaire, with business savvy and a gumbo recipe that is to die for. Guys will be intimidated to approach her, but once they get to know her, they’ll realize she isn’t just a workaholic. She loves dancing to jazz, singing about her dreams, and looks great in green. If you want to win this girl’s heart, it’ll probably help to have a dashing smile, but Tiana is looking for someone who cares about her and her dreams, so you better be on your A game; smooth-talking won’t be enough for this Disney princess. If you’re lucky enough to land this girl, you’re going to have to keep that superiority complex in check because let’s get real, you ain’t bringing in more revenue than Tiana’s gumbo-serving restaurant. Needless to say, Tiana is a keeper.

Number Seven


Cruella De Vil: Oh, sweet, simple Anita. I know, I know, this cottage of a house is your dream castle and poor Roger, he’s your bold and fearless gallant!

Yep, I bet you didn’t see this one coming. I’ve dug a little deeper into the Disney collection, and although Anita Radcliffe receives less screen time than 101 dalmatians, she is surprisingly well-developed. Anita Radcliffe is the only female protagonist on this list who gets married before the movie reaches towards its conclusion, which may make her seem too old for courtship but at the same time, we get to see how she is as a wife and long-term partner. Anita at first appears overly civilized, along with her dog, Perdita, but that facade soon fades away once she falls in water and shows she can laugh off an awkward moment. After Anita marries Roger Radcliffe, she is seen treating everyone nicely, even her old, pesky college friend Cruella De Vil. Anita is polite and mannered but still lively and even flirty towards Roger. Moreover, the fact she gives a poor musician like Roger a chance shows she doesn’t care about money, even though she looks like she was born of wealth, which is quite the attractive trait nowadays. As an added bonus, you’ll always know the perfect Christmas present: another dalmatian.

Number Six


Hercules: Aren’t you… a damsel in distress?
Megara: I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day.

That’s Megara, or Meg, for ya. Always prepped with witty one-liners, Broadway originator of Belle, Susan Egan, provides the voice of Hercules’ romantic interest in Disney’s 1997 adaptation of the famous Greek myth. Egan gives Meg a distinct alto timbre to her singing voice, which is complimented very nicely by the muses in her feature song, I Won’t Say I’m in Love. Not to mention, this makes Megara stick out in the overwhelmingly soprano Disney heroine list. I know Disney princesses are known for unrealistic body proportions, but when it comes to animated characters, no waist is tinier than Meg’s. She also has “hips that don’t lie.” Struts like she’s walking down a runway, really. One might wonder if Megara is only on this list for her uniqueness and physical attributes, but beneath Meg’s outwardly snarky, almost seductive personality is a softer, more tender side to Meg. Damaged by her long list of ex-boyfriends, it will be difficult to convince Meg ever to love again. It might help to have raging biceps and be the town hero, but I recommend first having a heart of gold. Did I mention that Megara is a goddess? Enough said.

Number Five


Frollo: Look at that disgusting display!
Phoebus: Yes, sir!

Esmeralda is the only Disney heroine, in my knowledge, who ever pole dances, so you knew she was going to have to come in somewhere on this top ten list. I recall watching a video of Glen Keane animating Ariel for an exhibition event of some sort. In any case, he said you could tell which animator animated Ariel based on the size of her sea-shells. I think a similar statement could be made for Esmeralda, a gypsy in Disney’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame who possesses the strange wizardry to frequently change bra sizes. I don’t believe for a second someone who has access to gypsy magic and as thin as Esmeralda is not deceiving us with her witchcraft. Curse those Victoria’s Secret push-ups! She also has emerald-green eyes, which I’m guessing are colored contacts. No one has eyes as noticeably green as Esmeralda. However, I think what gives Esmeralda this highly coveted, top five spot is her song, God Help the Outcasts, in which she prays for people like Quasimodo. Not only is Esmeralda a “disgusting display,” but she is a thoughtful, caring individual. I was hoping for a Quasimodo and Esmeralda union, but Esmeralda’s choice in Phoebus only shows she most identifies with Disney’s heroes. But… who really cares about all that. All you need to know is Esmeralda pole dances. Why yes, of course it is a big deal!

Number Four


Jane: Put me down! Put me down! No, pick me up, pick me up, pick me up!

Artsy, adventurous, and an anthropologist of sorts, Jane Porter in Disney’s Tarzan is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ book of the same title. In Disney’s rendition, Jane comes to Tarzan’s homeland looking to study gorillas, but ends up teaching a gorilla-raised human all about 20th century society. In the process of doing so, she develops feelings for him, ultimately causing her to ditch human society for Tarzan and his gorilla family. That basically sealed the deal for me. Jane is not only the most sciency of the Disney princess bunch, she chooses stinky gorillas over the entirety of human civilization. Come on, who would ditch the internet and cell phones for some vine-swinging, tree-surfing, ripped dude? Okay, maybe the choice wasn’t so hard to make, but I simply love Jane’s character design and voice actor. I was never good at identifying accents, but I believe Minnie Driver gives Jane a slight British accent, obviously amping her perceived intellect. And although Glen Keane steals the show in terms of animation with Tarzan, Jane doesn’t seem as restricted with her facial expressions and body movements as her Disney princess counterparts, allowing Jane to display more (maybe just less gracefully) excitement, fright, and just her overall perky personality. Through and through, Jane is a mannered Brit who has an inner gorilla.

Number Three


John: You have the most unusual names here, Chechomony, Kuyukanhoic, Pocahontas.
Pocahontas: You have a most unusual name too… John Smith.

Man, talk about being shrouded in mysticism! This was all it took for John Smith to fall in love with her, but for me, I usually fall in love with the Disney heroine after her feature song. Mulan with Reflection? Holy cow. Tiana with the first line of Almost There, “That’s just gonna have to wait a while.” Cinderella was actually a little later with Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale, even though I love A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. Like Cinderella, Pocahontas’ singing actor Judy Kuhn gets the privilege of singing two of these feature songs, Just Around the River Bend and Colors of the Wind, and I bet everyone knows which song won my heart over. Elsa might be considered the first Disney princess with superpowers, but Pocahontas really could paint with all the colors of the wind. Super speed, Olympic-worthy diving and canoeing abilities, genius-level language learning capability, and the power to manipulate wind to get hair in her face are just a few of her other superhuman traits. As with all superheros, Pocahontas puts her power to good use, using her super speed to rescue John Smith from his death-sentence and uses her ability to manipulate wind to push the sails of a dying John Smith’s ship. However, perhaps her greatest power is her singing voice, which can convince even the blandest of characters to become an environmentalist and rid them of their xenophobia. Even though Pocahontas stars in a forgettable movie, her distinct skin color, facial design, playful personality, and tree hugging (or should I say talking) agenda all paint the portrait of a more than datable Disney princess.

Number Two


Belle: How, is it this amazing? It’s my favorite part because, you’ll see! Here’s where she meets Prince Charming. But she won’t discover that it’s him ’til chapter three!

Those are the lyrics to Belle’s Song, dang it! I have no idea why every website I visit lists the lyrics as: “Oh, isn’t this amazing?” And it’s important, because this was the exact moment I knew I was going to love Belle. Vibrantly voiced by Paige O’Hara, she supplies Belle with a true soprano voice worthy of the Broadway musical stage. It’s been said that during O’Hara’s audition for the role against 500, she brushed back a wayward strand of hair, inspiring screen-writer Linda Woolverton to conceive “a little wisp of hair that keeps falling in her face,” one of the many finer details audiences may miss upon their first viewing of Beauty and the Beast. During production, producer Don Hahn felt Belle was being upstaged by more engaging characters the likes of Lumiere and Cogsworth. Hence, Woolverton made Belle eccentric. She loves reading books. She longs for adventure. People may be surprised I’ve selected a picture of Belle out of her signature yellow/gold dress, but I actually dislike how revealing it is, seemingly contradicting Belle’s modesty. Perhaps Belle’s animators Mark Henn and James Baxter simply got carried away with Belle’s physical attractiveness.

But what attracts me to Belle more than her physical appearance or her singing voice is her personality. Her blue village dress shows girls don’t need an extravagant gown to look great. And it represents there’s more to being a Disney princess than being born of wealth or of royal blood. Belle desires for something more, something more than she’s been presented with, something more than she can possibly imagine. There is only one Disney princess in my mind who dreams bigger, but Belle is downright near perfect as far as movie characters goes. Co-starring in a film studded with memorable characters, including the complicatedly brooding Beast, Belle is still a real highlight of the Beauty and the Beast experience. I’ve reserved using a particular word to describe Belle, and I’m pretty sure everybody knows what that word is. That is because Belle is, in every distinguished sense of the word, beautiful.

Number One


Glen Keane: I heard Part of Your World, Jodi Benson singing that, and it just captivated me. I have to do that. And I went and told those guys, “I really wanna do Ariel.” And they said, “Well, I don’t know. This is supposed to be a pretty girl. Can you do that?” I said, “Look, I have to do Ariel. I mean, I can feel it in my heart.”

I returned to The Little Mermaid only a few years back for the music, for the animation, for the laughs, and instead, I found myself asking: when is Ariel going to come back on screen? And although I was pained to see Ariel lose her voice for half the movie (sure beats sleeping), thankfully, there is never a scene too long without Ariel in it, as if Disney knew how hard their audience was going to fall for their fourth princess. Some of you may be thinking Ariel breaks the third rule of this list, “No animals or otherwise non-human characters allowed,” but she’d still make #1 on my list in just her human form. Even when losing gorgeously animated scenes like Part of Your World and the renown Part of Your World reprise, you can still find plenty of varying facial expressions from Ariel, breaking free from the more monotonous facial expressions and body movement of the classical Disney princesses that came before her. In many ways, Ariel is rebellious not just as a Disney princess, but as a movie character. As Roger Ebert puts it, “Ariel is a fully realized female character who thinks and acts independently, even rebelliously, instead of hanging around passively while the fates decide her destiny.” She bargains with an evil sea-witch, gets a pair of legs, and leaves the ocean to go get her man, even saving him twice in the process of doing so.

In the Hans Christian Andersen fable, the little mermaid has the most beautiful voice in the world, and while Sierra Boggess does admirably in The Little Mermaid’s fated Broadway showings, there is only one definitive voice of Ariel and that is the voice of Jodi Benson. Bright, clear, and unguarded, Benson gives a once-in-a-lifetime performance singing Part of World, one I have yet to be seen replicated by even the great Disney legend herself. Mesmerizing more than just the thoughts of Prince Eric, Glen Keane splashes unto the animation scene by providing some of his best work as the supervising animator of Ariel, later followed by his notable works on the Beast, Pocahontas, and Tarzan. Not only has Keane played an integral part in the 1990s resurgence now known as the Disney renaissance, Ariel should be, has been, and continues to be an iconic figure for the studio. More deserving than Jiminy Cricket or that of Tinker Bell.

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel has been scavenging sunken ships for their treasure, disobeying her father probably for years now just to get a new glimpse of human civilization, of human culture. And as she sees Prince Eric for the first time, she is, out of all things, afraid, as if all her exploration on human life amounted to nothing but speechlessness. And as Ariel eavesdrops on Eric’s conversation, she tilts her smiling face ever so slightly upwards. This face is the face of someone who is pacing through the endless possibilities. This is the face of a dreamer.

I was asked by a friend to describe my perfect date. At first, the question seemed harmless. Oh, that’s easy, she’s gotta be… well, she’s gotta be… and I actually found it very difficult to spit the words that were jumbling around in my head. So then I resorted to movie characters, and one of the first characters that came to my mind was Ariel. What? An animated character? That is what I’m going to tell my friend who my perfect date is? And while I wasn’t nearly as articulate at the time forming my rudimentary answer, I basically said she has to be herself. She needs to be sincere, genuine; she needs to be her own unique person. She needs to comfortable with who she is, she needs to be believe in herself, and she needs to stick out of a crowd in some way, in any way, just to make my head turn twice. What makes Ariel special you ask? I think Glen Keane said it best, “The characters I like to animate have this burning desire inside of them. They believe the impossible is possible.” I personally would love to take a character with a burning desire inside of them on a date, if only to have a small fraction of their passion exude onto me, to keep the dinner conversation going, so they can share their passions with me and I can share my passions with them. And then I thought to myself, isn’t that what Disney movies are about in the first place? To believe in the impossible. To believe in a wish, a dream, a fairytale. The reason why the Disney renaissance movies were so great was because they indulged on Walt Disney’s philosophy, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” And look no further than the renaissance’s first title character, the little mermaid, to best embody such a statement. That is why Ariel represents the best of Disney. And that is why Ariel should be part of our world.


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Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

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