And no, she is not rude nor is she coarse nor unrefined.
As with most Disney movies, Beauty and the Beast definitely has its feminist imperfections. However, title actress Emma Watson is fighting back against that in at least one way–with her wardrobe.
Watson is asserting her opinions in the film-making process, requesting that her character not wear a corset under her iconic yellow gown. Watson wanted Belle to be a more “active” princess whose movement isn’t restricted. “[Belle is] very practical, she’s a very good horse-rider,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “In the movie, she wears these little ballet shoes, and I knew they had to go, because if you’re going to ride a horse…and fix machinery, then you need to be in proper boots.”
This may seem like a small detail, but it’s actually monumental. Disney princess narratives always feature women with unrealistic, tiny waists, and this decision will in some small way show girls that they do not need to look like a perfect doll in order to be beautiful. Beyond that, Watson’s decision to make Belle a more active princess is impactful as well. We’ve come a long way since Beauty and the Beast was first released, and Belle’s original character (despite her unnerving lack of depth) certainly would not be the type to lounge around in dresses all day fanning herself. “We tried to tweak things to make her more proactive, and a bit less carried along by the story,” Watson explained. “And a bit more in charge of–and in control of–her own destiny.”
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the tiniest, daintiest edge of the glass ceiling cracking.