Yes, I know, I’m late to the party. However, I have arrived and I have a point to make.
Emma Watson’s role as Belle in the spring blockbuster Beauty and the Beast is completely deserving of its place as the next generation’s idol. Watson, who is a UN Goodwill Ambassador and the face of feminist charity HeForShe, took an active role in making the lead character Belle into an even stronger female character for children. By refusing to wear a corset, be belittled by men and making her that extra bit stronger in her will, Watson crafts a character we can proudly show to the next generation of young girls.
When I was growing up, I lived off of the arguably weak Cinderella who is emotionally abused by her evil stepmother and whisked away by her Prince Charming – something that in real life simply doesn’t happen. Sadly, Cinders was my favourite. Belle, though, was number two on my list. Why? Because she loved books – and so did I!
The newer and improved Belle in the 2017 live action remake of Beauty and the Beast is much stronger than any of the female characters I watched growing up. And I love it. She proudly says “I’m not a princess” and is visibly distressed by the fact she was punished for teaching a younger girl in her provincial town to read. Sexism is evident – and called out by Watson’s Belle – when a man says “isn’t one enough?” in response to women learning to read. Moreover, Belle does this while a donkey does her washing up. She invented it so she could read more books. How fabulous.
In what is quite possibly Disney’s greatest move ever, Emma Watson does not let us – and young girls all around the world – down. We should be proud of that and proud of what young girls will get out of it in return.