Whenever I see lists of Disney Princesses, it always irks me that Esmeralda is not included.
Yes, she is a romanticized stereotype; yes she is an inaccurate representation of a whole ethnicity…but why is she not among the princesses?
Pocahontas, a woman who as a Native American was not a “princess” is listed there. She had no queen, no king, but she is still included as an “official princess”.
Esmeralda is never listed any where as a princess, she isn’t even considered worthy of this, despite her lead role in the movie. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because she’s a “Gypsy”. In the Hugo story, she is the daughter of a prostitute, whisked off by Gypsies in replacement for Quasimodo, the deformed and “real” Gypsy. Esmeralda is non-Gypsy - yet she is raised as one and vilified as one.
She is portrayed as a slut - even in the Disney cartoon. As a thief of men’s hearts, as using sex as power. She is ultimately executed for her ethnicity (even though really, she isn’t even a true Romani). Gypsies are portrayed as thieves and no good street entertainers. They’re portrayed as being outcasts and violent…
and I believe that is why, although supposedly a woman to admire in the Disney version of the book, she will NEVER be shown as anything other than a misplaced, offensive, and romanticized stereotype.
Where are the re-drawings of “corrected” Esmeralda? Where are the reworkings of her character like we see of Pocahontas and Mulan?
It will never happen - because we don’t even get that much respect.
Jane isn’t an official Disney Princess either and she’s white
I think it’s just because Hunchback isn’t that well known
and the Disney Princesses(who actually don’t have to be canon princesses) are chosen from their Princess Movies
Jane can’t really be used as a counterpoint IMO since there are many, many lead white women in Disney movies who aren’t princesses- precisely because there are so many lead white women in Disney movies.
I think popularity could be a contributing factor but if you check out the list of top grossing animated films of all time (not just Disney), Hunchback is on there and it is only a few places behind Pocahontas, while some of the princess movies don’t even make the list. Not that popularity is soley determined by pricetag, but it is a pretty decent indicator, and popularity is to some extent generated by the company for a lot of these movies- the kids buying princess merchendise today, by and large, had no exposure to most of the princess movies when they first came out. What they know is what the company sells to them. One can say, “This girl was not made a princess because she would not have sold as well,” but a good portion of what determines what items sell well and who stays popular is how much they are marketed by the company to the audience in question. If Disney stopped marketing the shit out of Cinderella she would still hold a place in everyone’s hearts but for the generation who actually buys their merchandise she would be all but forgotten in a year or two.
So: I think criticism or at least healthy critique and questioning of the princess choices are quite valid.
PS to everyone else: I think reading further replies from OP makes her point about sexuality more clear, I don’t think her actual viewpoint is slut shaming but her critique is specific to how media portrays rroma sexuality [source]