Top 8 Best Role Models for Girls in Disney Movies

Updated on April 10, 2019
poppyr profile image

Poppy is the author of "A Bard's Lament." She lives in Enoshima and likes to read novels and play video games, especially open-world RPGs.

Female Disney characters have long been exciting for kids, fascinating for critics, and unforgettable by Disney fans. Perhaps depending on your age, you had those one or two characters who really stood out to you. For this generation, perhaps it will be Elsa or Anna from the famous Frozen, or perhaps Rapunzel from Tangled. Disney girls are in movies, on posters, and come as plush toys or dolls.

What effects do these Disney princesses and girls have on viewers, and who, from all of Disney's animated classics, is technically the best role model for our kids - not just our daughters, but anyone who enjoys these films? This article aims to explore the top ten female role models from Disney movies and why.

1. Moana (Moana)

Moana is a great Disney girl, brave and fearless without being over-the-top sassy. Though the ocean calls her name, she sticks to her responsibilities for as long as she can. When her destiny is revealed, she battles self-doubt and works hard to save her people.

Self-doubt and lack of confidence are huge issues with children and teens today, and Moana helps us find our own inner strength.


2. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

Belle loves books and spends all her free time reading. When she's not doing that, she's helping out her father. She isn't prancing around with butterflies or singing about getting married. She's a practical and headstrong young woman, who girls all ages can definitely relate to.


Even when the most handsome guy in town asks for her hand in marriage, she rejects it because she doesn't like his personality. Belle is sweet, very likable, and loves her father very much. Most definitely a Disney girl to look up to.

2. Mrs. Incredible / Elastigirl / Helen Parr (The Incredibles)

Mrs. Incredible, or Helen Parr, isn't really a Disney "girl", but she is definitely worth a mention. Before marrying Mr. Incredible, her superhero identity, Elastigirl, explains how she loves being a hero.

Later on in the movie, she tells her husband how he doesn't have to be strong enough to protect their whole family on his own because he has her. Helen is fearless and believes in her strength, not only as a superhero, but as a wife and mother. Definitely something for viewers to imitate.


3. Nani (Lilo & Stitch)

Nani is the older sister of the main female character, Lilo, in Lilo & Stitch. Although not much attention has been paid to her, she's still a great character in Disney and an excellent role model to not only girls, but boys too.

She cares about her family and does her best to provide for Lilo, even when Lilo makes life difficult for her with her mischief. Nani is probably around twenty years old, and is she off partying? No, she's at home taking care of the only family member she has left. Definitely worth a mention on this list.


4. Merida (Brave)

A headstrong and free-spirited young princess, Merida is a great role model for girls. She very much has her own brain, and even rejects the prospect of marriage by taking on several warriors (and winning). Another Disney film that focuses on the importance of family, and easily made this list.

Merida | Source

5. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)

Tiana is a hard-working young lady who wants to use her talents to make it on her own. Tiana may possibly be one of the best role models for girls and young women today.

She sings about living her dream of building her own restaurant and succeeding with her own strength.


6. Pocahontas (Pocahontas)

Pocahontas is a Native American princess who is strong, adventurous and will do anything to protect her family and her people, even after falling in love with the enemy.

What is really amazing about Pocahontas is what when John Smith is badly hurt and asks her to travel to England with him, she chooses to stay with her family and her people. This hardly ever happens in Disney movies, and it's a powerful testament to how strong her character is.

Pocahontas | Source

7. Mulan (Mulan)

This ancient Chinese myth was brought to life by Disney, introducing a strong and determined young woman who risks her life to save not only her father, but her entire country. More than once she disregards her own safety and bravely works to defend her people.

Mulan's personality is also a little clumsy, she's sometimes a little late, and her 'good ideas' sometimes don't really work out. This shows that she isn't perfect - something everyone in the world can relate to.

Mulan | Source

8. Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Esmeralda is a gypsy girl in Paris, outcast by 'normal' townsfolk and despised by the justice system.

She dances on the streets to put bread on the table, can entertain an audience, and, best of all, isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She'll speak her mind and stand up for the less fortunate even if it means certain death. Even when Justice Frolo is about to command her execution, she doesn't waver. Such strength and determination should surely be noticed and imitated by viewers.

Esmeralda | Source

Who, from this list, is your favourite Disney character?

See results

Disney continues to bring us likable characters, many of which are girls who we hope real children can look up to! Who is your favourite Disney character?

© 2014 Poppy


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 weeks ago from Enoshima, Japan

      Meg is awesome, if a little cynical!

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      i chose Esmeralda but my role model growing up was meg

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 months ago from Enoshima, Japan

      I think I wrote this article before Moana came out!

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      I vote for Moana

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      12 months ago from Enoshima, Japan

      Thank you for commenting and for your vote!

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      I voted for Esmeralda. Thx for the list

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      19 months ago from Enoshima, Japan

      Thank you for commenting, Rajan! It’s so important to have good role models for children since they might, consciously or subconsciously, imitating their behaviour.

    • profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      19 months ago

      Kids' minds are easily impressed with what they see. Great Disney role models, the who and why?

    • Biomedical profile image

      Robert A. Avila, PE, MCE 

      5 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine

      Real strength, for men and women both, comes from looking deeply and honestly into one's own heart and asking, "What do I really want?" Then, disregarding naysayers, and considering all wise advice, advancing according to the heart. For some, this is a simple life with kith and kin. For others, it is transforming the global society.

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Enoshima, Japan

      I like Meg a lot! I loved Ariel when I was kid but I realised that leaving your family to be with a bloke you've known for ten minutes probably isn't the grounds for a good role model..

    • profile image

      Sarah Anderson 

      5 years ago

      Tough choice there, but I had to go with Belle. I totally had a Meg T-shirt when I was a kid, though.

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Enoshima, Japan

      Thank you for your comment Sally Rose :D

    • sallyrose333 profile image


      5 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Great list of Disney Role models. I think it is really important for young girls to have good role models to look up too. I love your list it's hard to choose from. I chose Milan because she is so brave even when things didn't go her way. Great article!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)