Things I Learned from Disney Princesses: Snow White


by Erin M Rogan (@Rogue98)

In 1937, Walt Disney released his very first full-length animated feature film. That film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and it paved the way for all these wonderful stories we know and love today. But between 1937 and 1950, there was only one Disney Princess: Snow White.
These days we have princesses who possess all kinds of lovely qualities, and Snow White led the way with kindness and sweetness. Although our new Snow White incarnations can be snarky, fierce, cunning, and witty; Disney’s girl was memorable because she was innocent and gentle.

Innocence can be beautiful, but also dangerous.

There is a fine line between innocence and naïveté. Snow White walks that line, and sometimes, she crosses it. The difference between the two is that innocence is a lack of knowledge or understanding, but naïveté is a lack of judgment. So, walking into the dwarfs’ house and assuming they were messy children was a sign of innocence; letting the old witch into the house and eating the apple was naive.

Snow White’s innocence makes her so likable and quickly ingratiates her to everyone around her (well, except the queen). But that naïveté is dangerous and we all need to be careful not to confuse the two. Remember that lacking understanding is fine, but lacking good judgment is not.

Not everyone will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

If anyone, fictional or otherwise, has ever deserved to be treated with kindness, it’s Snow White. She is indiscriminately kind to everyone she encounters, and yet, that does not always protect her from malice.

The queen, being far more concerned with physical beauty than beauty of spirit, treats Snow White as a threat. She does not consider how Snow White should be treated, but how she can be treated.

The truth is, sometimes when there is an unequal power dynamic, you don’t get treated the way you should. But, like Snow White does, it is important to continue being the kind of person who deserves to be treated well.

Keep calm and carry on.

Yes, I know, this is a popular British propaganda saying from World War II. It also applies to Snow White, though. This is something I think Snow White had to learn the hard way: panicking only makes things more difficult.

There is an extreme change in Snow White as she runs through the forest and away from the Huntsman. She is not the optimistic girl wearing rags while she wishes on wishing wells; she is clumsy and helpless and that lack of understanding that made her so lovely and innocent earlier causes her to see beasts where there are bunnies. It isn’t until she calms down that she regains her hopeful and gentle nature.

Of course, anyone with anxiety problems, or just experience with panic, will tell you that keeping calm and carrying on is easier said than done. But, as I have learned, any improvement can make your life a little better.

Optimism pays off.

The most common complaint about Snow White I have heard is that she is too content to sit and wait for her prince to find her. Of course, this is certainly not true of the versions being made today, but it is fair to say that 1938’s Snow White is patient and a little passive.

But you know what this Snow White has that the others do not? She has undying optimism. Yes, she waited to be found, but she never stopped believing that she would be. Sometimes, even though we don’t like it, all we can do is wait out the storm. In those times, optimism is part of what gets us through.

On a side note, there are people out there who believe that this undying optimism is what will change or save the world. If you look up TED Talks on video games you will find one by Jane McGonigal that says just that. It turns out Snow White shares a quality with real, live people who can make a difference in the world.

Silliness and stories bring us together.

My favorite parts in Snow White are “The Dwarfs’ Yodel Song (The Silly Song)” and “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” To me, this time in the movie teaches the most important lesson: being silly and telling stories helps us connect with people. Until this point, the dwarfs (excepting Grumpy) are willing to do as Snow White asks because she is the princess, and frankly, she cooked for them. But in this sequence, they create a genuine bond of friendship and loyalty.

This is true of real life as well. I can’t think of a single close friend I have with whom I’m not silly or to whom I don’t tell stories. There is something about stories and silliness that lets us know each other more honestly and fully.

Cooking and cleaning will ingratiate you to people!

No, I am not saying that you should wander into people’s houses and do their dishes for them. No, I also don’t think this is a good basis for a friendship or relationship. But, I’ve never liked someone less because they baked me cookies or washed a dish, and sometimes, when I’m concerned about the impression I’m making, I make brownies and bring them to people. I’m one hundred percent certain that doing kind things for people is never a waste of time.

Although not quite as developed as the later princesses, Snow White can show us a lot about trust and friendship. Personally, I think those are incredibly difficult to master and it never hurts to have another lesson. True, the world could not function on innocents like Snow White alone, but they do make the world a lovelier place.

For more things I learned from Disney Princesses, check out:


  1. AmyOctober 18th, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I’ve never been a big fan of Snow White but this has allowed me look at her from a new perspective. I have new respect for her now.

  2. JeanneOctober 18th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Don’t eat the Apple. I do Love disney movies allways have.

  3. Hope CanadayMay 15th, 2014 at 11:31 am

    You made such wonderful and insightful points about Snow White. Now I lover her even more! (^=^)

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