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.
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