For a lot of us, animated movies acted as our first introductions to feminism. Female-centric animated movies like Disney's Mulan are often credited with teaching young girls how to defy gender norms and stand up for themselves. Girls don't always have the luxury of seeing themselves onscreen, especially as they get older and start watching more live action films, which is what makes animated films so important (and awesome). But, just because a movie stars a woman or girl doesn't mean it's feminist, of course. As the 13 most feminist animated movies of all time prove, a female protagonist doesn't make a movie feminist — it's the story that really matters.
In Disney's first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released in 1937, the female protagonist's most defining characteristics are in her appearance. We all know that she has "skin as white as snow" and "lips as red as the rose" — her character was literally named after the color of her skin. Since then, female leads in animated films have come a long way. Today, feminist animated movies star characters who are more than their looks. They have dreams that don't involve a prince charming, and bigger goals than going to a ball. The 13 most feminist animated movies are redefining female roles and inspiring viewers all at the same time.
Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical film, adapted form her graphic novel, is not your average animated movie. Persepolis follows a young girl through the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and doesn't shy away from the awful aspects of war, or puberty.
Disney's Moana is the first of its kind: a female-driven movie without a love interest. Who knew girls didn't need romance to drive a story? (Hint: the answer is all women.)
Zootopia is about a female bunny entering a male-dominated profession. It doesn't really get more feminist than that for an animated movie.
Coraline features a strong-willed, imaginative, and brave female heroine. She's the creator of her own story, and that's a message we all could use from time to time.
Hayao Miyazaki has created many iconic female characters, but Spirited Away stands out because it's all about a girl trying to hold on to her identity, even as supernatural forces attempt to take it from her.
Let's face it, The Incredibles was awesome for two reasons: Elastigirl and Violet. Who says women can't be moms and superheroes?
Brave begins with Merida literally fighting for her own hand in marriage. Because she's a boss and doesn't need a man to control her fate.
Mulan set the standard for feminist animated films when it came out in 1998, proving once and for all that women can be just as fierce and strong as men.
I mean, look at this image. Don't mess with Princess Mononoke.
Pocahontas refuses to be discounted because of her gender or race. Boo ya.
Yes, Frozen features the classic Disney tiny waists and love story, but it's also about women who come out of their shells and the power of sisterhood.
Sometimes it takes a woman to show a man why he shouldn't tear down an entire forest of trees and ruin the environment forever.
Anastasia is about an independent woman on the search for her identity. It's a pretty accurate description of feminism, if you ask me.
Looking at these movies, it's clear that live action could learn a thing or two from feminist animated films.