Listicles · PhD Life · Princess Life · Uncategorized

Pixar Women, PhD Part 2

EVE – Ecology.

EVE’s sole mission was to collect data about life on Earth. She’ll likely need to work on her data analysis skills but armed with a PhD, she will be invaluable to the re-colonization of the planet. Specializing in urban ecology or sustainability, she will have a lot to contribute to establishing a healthier relationship between humans and their new ecosystems.

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Ellie – Latin American Studies.

Ellie’s one dream in life was to go to Paradise Falls in South America. Based off of Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Ellie’s dream might have come true sooner if she studied Latin American Studies in graduate school. She could have done field research near the falls or at least traveled to conferences hosted in the region – and conference travel is a great way to see new parts of the world using university (or external scholarship) funding! Focusing on ecotourism or the relationship with animals across different Latin American cultures would be perfectly suited for her experience as a zookeeper!

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Joy – Positive Psychology.

Eternally optimistic, Joy would want to figure out how to bring that same happiness to others. The positive psychology branch of psychology focuses on human flourishing rather than floundering, on what makes a good life worth living, with several studies on techniques for promoting feelings such as self-confidence, compassion and gratitude. Joy might even build on work by Fowler & Christakis about how contagious happiness is. I’m sure she’d be looking out for Riley too by investigating how this phenomenon holds in young adult populations. I wonder if this might even explain the popularity of boy bands.

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Sadness – Social Psychology.

On the flip side of Joy, Sadness would likely study depression, dabbling a little bit in its relationship to memory formation. I would be worried about Sadness facing impostor syndrome while in graduate school but with Joy by her side and studying depression herself, I think she’s well-equipped to take on any emotions that come with the hard work required.

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Cruz Ramirez – Mechanical Engineering.

Cruz is apparently quite a whippersnapper with the latest technology but she’s also mastered motivational speaking. She’ll put those smarts to work studying ways to improve engines (and other machines to train her fellow cars). Her personality will really shine through when she leads her own lab because she will likely be a very engaged mentor and well-regarded member of her department.

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Mama Imelda – Musicology.

Mama Imelda always wanted to do music but repressed that part of her when Hector left her; pursuing a PhD in Musicology would allow her to fully appreciate music. While she would not be performing as much, she would be able to study music and its cultural contexts. I think she might be particularly interested in exploring several case studies of familial relationships with music in Mexican culture.

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Coco – Marriage and Family Therapy.

If only Coco had earned her PhD earlier, maybe Hector could have visited his daughter on Día de los Muertos a few more times. Coco would definitely use her doctoral training to help her own family and dozens of others resolve their interpersonal conflicts. She could even specialize in Latin American therapy and would be a valuable resource in the era of family separation at the U.S. border.

Voyd – Astrophysics.

I can already see it: Violet and Voyd earning their PhDs in physics simultaneously even if they are across the country or world from one another. With the ability to create wormholes, Voyd would likely be fascinated with the next best thing: black holes. Thus, a PhD in astrophysics would give her the training on the underlying mechanisms of her own powers and she’s already got a get-up suited for space travel.

Edna Mode – Textiles.

Although most fashion designers do not have their PhDs, Edna is something else. These programs are found more outside of the U.S. but would be well-suited for her passions for materials that need to perform in extreme conditions. With her reputation, she would likely be a superstar at conferences and would no doubt be able to find a great deal of funding. She might not enjoy the longer-term projects typical of PhD research but she seems well-suited for pulling all-nighters to prepare for presentations the next day.

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Listicles · PhD Life · Princess Life · Uncategorized

Pixar Women, PhD Part 1

Bo Peep – Animal Sciences.

Bo Peep has conspicuously been missing in the last two Toy Story movies and I think the possibility of her disappearing to go earn her PhD in Animal Sciences is somewhat likely (although I don’t know how she would be able to manage without her support system of the rest of Andy’s toys). This shepherdess would be overly qualified to conduct research on sheep behavior and agricultural practices that can improve the lives of her baaaa-es and other ruminants.

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Gypsy – Quantum Physics.

Armed with the knowledge that her moth (and other butterfly) wings are composed of nanostructures with incredible potential for new technologies, Gypsy would want to better understand the physics underlying her own biology. Because the structures are so small that they need to be studied with electron microscopes, Gypsy would have to pursue knowledge in the realm of quantum physics. Then, she would be able to explain how light interacts with these materials for various applications even if most people think it’s just magic.

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Rosie – Theater and Performance Studies.

Rosie was quite theatrical in her role as rhinoceros beetle tamer in P.T. Flea’s circus. She would combine her affinity for the performing arts with her curiosity about gender studies. With most of her life having been defined by her relationship with her husbands, Rosie would spend the years of her PhD examining how women were portrayed in various plays, musicals, and other genres.

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(For the princesses of Bug’s Life, check out this post)

Jessie – Conservation Biology.

Jessie would turn her passion for taking care of various critters into a career. Although she might have had a mildly traumatic experience with museum conservation, biological conservation is much more up her ally. She’d be able to save species on the brink of extinction by collecting data on ecosystems – her focus of course would be on the deserts and mountain areas of the American West and their animal inhabitants.

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Boo – Mythological and Religious Studies.

Boo’s formative experience in the Monster World would shape her desire to understand why other people develop a fear of monsters when she clearly was not afraid. This field would give her the tools to explain why people believe what they believe as well as document how societies cultivate shared beliefs. If she really has time-traveling powers as the Pixar theory says she does, she could even do comparative analyses of medieval Scottish beliefs with ideologies of Monstropolis.

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Roz – Criminal Justice.

I’m pretty sure that Roz already has her PhD in Criminal Justice, but even if she doesn’t, now that her mission at Monsters, Inc., she has plenty of time to go back to school. Her dedication to finding the bad guy and maintaining secret identities is the glamorous side of studying criminological theory, public policy, statistics, and forensic science, all of which she would be trained in as a PhD student.

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Dory – Cognitive Psychology.

Motivated by wanting to better understand the relationships between her own memory loss (specifically, anterograde amnesia or the inability to form new memories) and her seemingly more proficient place-based memory, Dory would pursue a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. She would likely study various techniques to assist in coping with anterograde amnesia while using those techniques herself to become a successful academic. She might also specialize in spatial and place-based memory and spend a few years on a project investigating the neuroscience of hippocampal place cells.

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Helen Parr/Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible – Material Sciences and Engineering.

Although the origin of supers’ powers in the Pixar universe is still unknown (whether it is due to genetic mutation or some sort of government experimentation), Elastigirl would want to leverage her expertise in flexibility in her PhD program. She would research the stretchiness of various materials like hydrogels and conditions that affect this property to improve its durability and functionality in military and civilian applications.

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Violet Parr – Physics.

Violet’s powers are both a function of visible light, so she would study physics, and more specifically optics, to earn her doctorate. Because invisibility requires modifying the frequency of light reflected off of objects to be in a range that is not visible to the human eye, Violet would build on the research that Edna had to have known about to develop the teen’s supersuit so that the phenomenon can be more deeply understood. While her shield generation also seems to rely upon ultraviolet light, it defies Newtonian laws of physics so she would definitely have to do a few experiments to be able to explain this ability.

Sally Carrera – Law.

Sally says that she used to be an attorney so she has earned her doctorate in law already. Although she did not very much enjoy her legal career, she used her knowledge to help out Lightning McQueen when he got into trouble in Radiator Springs. She could do plenty more pro-bono work for other troubled cars but also seems to be well-suited to consulting for people fighting to preserve historical landmarks and fighting against business owners who want to destroy such things to turn a profit.

Colette Tatou – Organizational Psychology.

Colette’s experiences in Chef Skinner’s kitchen would make her interested in improving the working conditions of several other kitchens, especially for women in the industry. Earning her PhD in Organizational Psychology would give her the theories and tools to be a consultant to numerous restaurants to improve their productivity and employee satisfaction. Maybe Disney Parks and Resorts would even hire her!

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Which Pixar PhD woman are you most like?

Princess Life · Science of Disney · Uncategorized

Science of Disney: Sleeping Death

Hopefully none of the super cool science information below puts you to sleep!

So what caused Sleeping Beauty’s coma or death-like slumber?

Including Juliet imbibing a sleeping draught or Snow White eating a poisoned apple , fictional characters have been put into death-like states (or faked their own deaths) in myriad ways. So what likely caused Sleeping Beauty’s death-like state? How might pricking a finger have led to the princess losing consciousness? And could true love’s kiss really awaken someone from such a state? Maybe the magical secret is the too-coincidental-to-be-overlooked common thread of roses (that famous Shakespearean line, the color of Snow White’s lips, Sleeping Beauty’s secret identity), maybe it’s science or maybe it’s both.

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According to The Film Theorists, plants may be the culprit behind these medieval motionless maladies. But unfortunately the suggested plants refute my rose hypothesis: none of the likely suspects are in the Rosaceae (rose) family. First, atropa belladonna, a poisonous plant commonly found in medieval Germany (in which the authors of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the Brothers Grimm, lived) might be what caused these princesses’ death-like states. In addition to being poisonous when ingested, this plant was often used to make poisonous arrows. And arrows are pretty similar to spindles, so it is possible that the spindle with which Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger was also coated in the same belladonna poison.

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Atropa belladonna is actually a combination of the name for a Greek Fate and the Italian word meaning beautiful woman

Atropa belladonna’s deathly powers can be attributed to a chemical makeup that is high in alkaloids. These alkaloids work by blocking receptors in the nervous system for a chemical called acetylcholine, like blocking all of the doors to the elevators and stairwells to prevent you (the acetylcholine in this analogy) from getting to the right floor of a building (neurons that control movement of muscles that regulate breathing and neurons that regulate heartbeat the heart). One of the main side effects of the specific alkaloid in atropa belladonna is to speed up the heartbeat, eventually leading to heart attack. Although the mechanism of delivery for this poison seemed good, it is more likely that Sleeping Beauty’s heartrate slowed down to a restful, death-like state rather than speeding up.

 

Another hypothesis that I think is more likely is that Sleeping Beauty went into a hypoglycemic diabetic coma after pricking her finger on a spindle that may have been coated in insulin.These comas are caused by the concentration of sugar in blood reaching too low of levels and the hormone insulin reduces the amount of sugar in the blood. While it is highly unlikely that Maleficent was able to isolate insulin into a substance in medieval times, the spindle might not have been necessary at all; the sum of experiences that Sleeping Beauty experienced leading up to the finger-pricking moment may have also caused the coma.  The clues are all there – she didn’t have a chance to eat her birthday dinner or cake and then had to walk briskly to the castle which would’ve depleted her body’s sugar reserves. Hypoglycemic diabetic comas have symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and light-headedness as well as shallow breathing which could all be some of the things that we see Sleeping Beauty experiencing in the Disney film. Furthermore, it is actually feasible that this state could have been cured by true love’s kiss. If Prince Philip’s lips and tongue were coated in several grams of glucose, this could have been enough to rebalance Sleeping Beauty’s blood sugar levels by allowing her to digest the glucose. All in favor of renaming Prince Philip to Prince Sugarlip from now on, say aye!

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Lastly, the third hypothesis is that Sleeping Beauty suffered head trauma and a subsequent coma after pricking her finger. But, Sarah, you might say, that’s silly; pricking a finger has nothing to do with head injury! And this is where my personal experience with something called a vasovagal syncope allows me to undermine that assumption. Vasovagal syncope causes someone to lose consciousness, often for only a few seconds or minutes, because some sort of external stimulus causes nerve signals (the same ones affected by atropa belladonna chemicals) to dramatically decrease heart rate, which lowers blood pressure, which prevents more blood and more oxygen to reach the brain.

My handful of vasovagal response experiences have been caused by triggers of descriptions pain or anything to do with breaking bones but several other people are triggered by needles or blood. You know what else is sharp like a needle and can draw blood? A spindle! So Sleeping Beauty could have lost consciousness and fell to the floor due to a vasovagal response to pricking her finger. In the process, she could have hit her head hard enough on the cobblestones of the tower room to be put into a coma. Unfortunately, there is still no scientific evidence showing that a kiss has the ability to awaken anyone from coma.

Thanks for reading!

Which do you think is the most plausible scientific explanation?

Check out my Instagram posts @thephdprincess for more science related to Sleeping Beauty! I just had too much information to fit into this one post!

Citations

Diabetic Comas

Vasovagal syncope

Listicles · Princess Life · Uncategorized

Disney Women in STEM

For The United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science (#IDWGS), I wanted to draw attention to the representation of the phenomenal females of Disney. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many easily recognizable female characters in STEM in Disney media. Of the approximately 200 characters classified as scientists on Disney Wiki, only about 20 of them were female and even fewer were in more than one episode of a TV show or in a major motion picture. Below I highlight some of the better known and lesser known females in science roles from Disney animation, live-action and park attractions.

Animated

Honey Lemon is kind of the perfect combination of the traditional Disney Princess and nerdy scientist. She is kind, optimistic, fashionable AND an adept chemical engineering student. I love how she counters most of the stereotypes of a mad scientist as a crotchety Caucasian man and helps to break down the shock that most people have women can’t be both beautiful and smart.

 

Gogo Tamago is an industrial design and mechanical engineering student in Big Hero 6 who uses the science of magnetism as her super power. Her line of “Stop whining, woman up!” gave a clue into how the culture of San Fransokyo is different from our current society. Athletic and sarcastic, she deserves just as much respect and admiration as the more traditionally feminine Honey Lemon.

Vanellope von Schweetz is an actual Princess (and President!) but also a resourceful enough engineer to build her own kart to compete in Sugar Rush races. She could have used a little bit more knowledge of computer code but her spunk and sympathetic nature make her a very endearing child racing prodigy.

 

Gadget Hackwrench (who also has a ride in Disneyland’s Toontown named after her!) is one of Chip and Dale’s friends (and main love interests) but doesn’t get as much recognition as she deserves. She’s an inventor and tinkerer that always comes up with creative solutions using everyday items. She can be feisty but is nevertheless a valuable member of the Rescue Rangers.

Lesser Known

The majority of animated STEM females have very small roles and in other cases they are the villains, like the Evil Queen, Ursula or Yzma using scientific (but more often just magical) powers to craft various potions. In more recent productions, like on Disney Jr.’s Miles from Tomorrowland, there are some more notable women and girls in STEM.

Tanya Vanderflock from Mighty Ducks is similar to Gadget Hackwrench in that she uses her mechanical genius to help her accomplish team’s goals.

 

Vivian Francis Porter from Kim Possible also suffered from people not taking her intellect seriously due to her stunning beauty. Maybe she’ll make an appearance in the upcoming live-action Kim Possible!

Sara BellumRhoda Dendron and the villainous Anna Matronic from Darkwing Duck have great names but very little screentime.

 

Loretta Callisto is the main character’s supportive and tech-savvy sister and Dr. Zephyr Skye is her storm-hunting and kick-butt role model (voiced by a real meteorologist) from Miles from Tomorrowland on Disney Jr. Hopefully these characters will inspire more young girls to want to be scientists!

 

Live Action

While there are a handful of females with doctorates in Disney live-action films, very few of them have prominent roles or rich back-stories and plots like their male counterparts. Some of the best representation actually comes from the Marvel movies and even then, the studios could do much better by giving these wonder women their own movies instead of relegating them to supporting roles.

Carina Smyth from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a very passionate and determined astronomer living in difficult times. Her wrongful conviction as a witch definitely is not so far off from shaming of women that still happens today.

 

Gabriella Montez from High School Musical also fits the stereotype of being ridiculed and being an outcast for being a math and science nerd but she doesn’t let silly boys stop her from pursuing her dreams of going to an amazing school and maintaining her passion for singing and competing in the science olympiad.

Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds in Flubber and Dr. Abigail Chase from National Treasure both serve primarily as the love interests in their respective movies but have also achieved a great deal of success in their fields as evidenced by their prominent positions. I would love to see spin-offs showing the adventures and challenges they overcame to get to where they are.

 

Marvel

Jane Foster is a well-known astrophysicist and is Thor’s main love interest. It was great to see Natalie Portman portray another powerful woman.

Maya Hansen from Iron Man 3 is a botanist who has a brief relationship with Tony Stark.

Betty Ross is a nuclear physicist in the Hulk comics and movie and will be making an appearance in the upcoming Infinity War movie.

 

Lastly, Leia Organa was not only a princess and general but also secretly a doctor, but more on that at another time.

Parks

Dr. Jaclyn Ogden is the primary expert on banshees on the planet Pandora and restarted the Avatar program so that guests can partake in a similar rite of passage as the Na’Vi. (I have a feeling she was named after the real life Jackie Ogden who is an experimental psychologist and director of animal programs for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts).

 

Mary Oceaneer is one of the few females in the fictional elite club, the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. She must know a fair bit about cartography, astronomy and the mechanics of captaining a ship and diving for treasure in order to be a successful treasure hunter. She inspired attractions on the Disney Cruise Line and at Typhoon Lagoon – a water park in Florida.

Doctor Marsh from DINOSAUR and the woman in Spaceship Earth are some of the only women of color in science in any Disney media and one of them doesn’t even talk. Perhaps now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, the woman in Spaceship Earth can finally be tied to one of the awesome ladies of Hidden Figures and given a line.

 

To end on a positive note, women and girls visiting the parks can be inspired by real-life females in STEM by observing the hard-working women in Living with the Land or on the Behind the Seeds tour as well as in the light-hearted demonstrations of science principles in the SpectacuLab. Furthermore, Disney has highlighted several women in its Every Role a Starring Role and Disney Careers YouTube videos; check out my playlist of these women here.

Behind the Seeds

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Are there any Disney women in STEM that you think deserve more recognition? Or what kind of women in STEM would you like to see represented in Disney media?

Listicles · PhD Life · Princess Life · Uncategorized

If Princesses were PhD Students Part 2

Some of the best and most interesting Disney characters to me are the unofficial Disney princesses. What would these nine fearless females choose to study in graduate school?

Megara – Media and Communication.

She seemed to be quite confident in giving Hercules advice about how to adjust his public image. Becoming an expert in how rhetoric manifests in various mediums both ancient and modern would be quite lucrative for this dame; she could use these skills to develop her own media consulting company for all of the big stars or start her own magazine that would rival Cosmo with bitingly witty pieces on sandals, weak ankles, togas and how to become equals with any man despite how godly they might seem to the general populace.

Jane – Evolutionary Anthropology.

This likely descendant of Belle shares the bookworm’s affinity for beastly creatures as demonstrated by her fondness for gorillas, chimpanzees and of course Tarzan. Living in the jungle for so many years would make her one of the most qualified candidates to be a leading researcher of apes, so I expect that she would apply to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. I’m sure she’d leverage her strong bonds with the bands of gorillas to study their behavior and communication very intimately and become a well-published expert as long as the animals don’t trash her camp repeatedly.

Anna – Art History.

During the time that Anna spent in the halls of Arendelle’s castle growing up, she seemed to deeply appreciate (and talk extensively to) the paintings lining the walls. Studying art history would give Anna the skills to preserve the works of art as well as learn more about the customs of Arendelle that she can no longer remember. As a result of her studies, she likely would not stop talking about the rich artistic traditions of Scandinavia, which Kristoff would happily endure and perhaps even contribute to himself.

Elsa (yes, she’s technically a queen) – Civil Engineering.

She already seems to know a lot about building with ice so she’d probably revolutionize the field of civil engineering by using her expertise of ice’s properties as well its advantages and disadvantages to design structures in regions other than Arendelle. Elsa would also shatter some glass ceilings as she rise in the ranks of the male-dominated field. I would just feel really sorry for Elsa networking at conferences because everyone would come up to her “wanting to break the ice” which would probably get old very quickly. On a positive note, her several years in solitude have prepared her well for hours writing papers alone.

Nala – Marriage and Family Therapy.

Where would the animal kingdom be if not for Nala’s amazing skills at helping Simba confront his past and his own greatest fears? Once the famine of Scar’s years as king subsides, Nala would be better able to serve the kingdom if she could receive additional training to hone her skills at negotiation. I’m sure there’s way more drama in the pride than is shown in the movie and she would be just the lion to help resolve any conflicts.

Kida – Religious Studies.

Like Moana, the mythology of her people would spark a need to know more about why people believe what they believe. Learning about Mesoamerican and Southeast Asian religious practices would only be the launching point for writing a thesis on Atlantean beliefs and customs. Several of her people would follow in her footsteps to share and develop more expertise about the unique Atlantean architectural styles and functioning of crystals.

Vanellope von Schweetz – Computer Science.

Having been erased from the code of her own game, this spunky gal would go to school to ensure that none of the citizens of Sugar Rush face the same fate as she did. Understanding the intricacies of several programming languages and how videogames store their data could make her the heroine of the whole arcade if it were ever in danger again as well as make her much more adept at navigating the Internet (Wreck-It Ralph 2 *hint hint*). Furthermore, gaining expertise in computer science could also help her make faster and more environmentally friendly electric racing cars; who’s to say that even a gingerbread car couldn’t run on electricity?

Atta – Biology.

As such a broad field, biology would be best suited for Atta’s need to know about ecosystems, agriculture, animal (or insect) behavior as well as environmental policy in order to be an informed leader of her colony. Knowing more about photosynthesis and the nutrients and farming practices that would best support high, continuous crop yield would ensure that she would rarely have difficulty feeding all of her “subjects” and maybe even feed some grasshoppers in the mean time. She might have to improve upon her skills at standing up for herself in the field but standing up to Hopper would definitely make for a good personal statement.

Dot – Mechanical Engineering.

With Flik and Atta as role models, Dot will have witnessed dramatic revolutions in how her colony harvests food by the time she would be prepared for a PhD program. Her experiences with birds (both real and constructed) would likely have piqued her fascination with machines, especially flying ones. Thus, studying how things move would enable this princess to improve the harvesting machines and potentially lead the growing colony off the island either by riding the streams from rainstorms or via air travel.

Read Part 1 here!

Which characters would you like me to do next?

 

Princess Life · Uncategorized

Sisters of Disney

In honor of December 6th being the anniversary of the birthday of Walt Disney’s sister Ruth and the two having a particularly strong relationship, I thought I would write a post dedicated to the sisters of Disney.

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Alliances of women, whether related by blood or not, are more important now than any other time period besides perhaps when women were campaigning for the right to vote. Not having a sister myself, I find Disney films particularly interesting as examples of female relationships. Unfortunately, Disney films portray women working alone or in conflict with other women (Snow White may be the epitome of this) more often than they portray women working with others, male or female so the few times that women are seen as having female counterparts deserve celebrating. Rather than doing a ranking of characters for their goodness as sisters which would further pit women against each other, I wanted to just touch on what they can each teach us about sisterhood.

Sister, Sister

Anna & Elsa

The most well-known Disney sisters of the modern age (although some might think that Elsa and Rapunzel should be sisters instead) demonstrate a very strong bond despite lost memories and scheming princes. Although there is debate about whether the act of true love that saved Anna was Anna herself or Elsa, no one can deny that these two will be inseparable until the end of their days. Their mutual love of chocolate and snow unites them like wine and the Bachelor unites me with my sorority sisters.

Atta & Dot

Some of the first female Pixar characters (besides Bo Peep and Mrs. Potato Head who only served as love interests in Toy Story) were a pair of sisters. Atta (voiced by the amazingly talented Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a worry-wart and rule-follower. Dot is a bit of a brat but optimistic and sees the best in everyone. Over the course of the movie, these sisters’ animosity towards each other turns into appreciation. With Dot’s help, Atta comes to believe in herself and value doing things differently; Atta also recognizes Dot’s maturity and capability of being a leader in her own right. And for a movie that most people probably associate with having a male lead, it passes the Bechdel test with flying colors: The queen, Atta, and Dot talk with each other about saving the colony among other things.

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Nani & Lilo

Nani may be more motherly than sisterly towards Lilo but the message of “Ohana means family and family never gets left behind” is a message that all siblings, regardless of gender, could benefit from being reminded of. Lilo making fun of and interfering with Nani’s crush on David makes me think fondly of all the times that my younger brothers would tease me about the boys that I liked. But Nani showers Lilo with love and builds up her confidence when no one else will. After working together to protect Stitch, nothing can separate these two loyal sisters, not even an intergalactic space agency.

 

Sister, Sisters

Cinderella & her step-sisters, Anastasia and Drizella

Deep down, all three sisters have more in common than meets the eye: they were all raised by Lady Tremaine, they appreciate beautiful dresses, and it seems like they all have the same short-term goal of attending the ball and potentially long-term goal of getting married to a handsome prince. Despite these similarities, the sisters turned out very differently. Nevertheless, I think if something terrible were to happen to Anastasia or Drizella the other two sisters would forget their jealousies and be there to provide a helping hand, shoulder to cry on, or ear for bending. It’s possible that after many years pass, the three sisters could be each other’s bridesmaids and doting aunts to each other’s children.

Ariel & all her sisters (Can you remember all of their names? Answers below!)

Although the sisters do not get a lot of screentime, I believe the song at the beginning of the movie helps this film (almost) pass the Bechdel test. During the song, the sisters, who are all named, are singing about presenting Ariel to the audience. Whether they’re technically talking to each other or to other female characters is up for debate. Even though the lyrics in this brief segment mention both King Triton and Sebastian, the important thing to consider is that the sisters sang about something other than a man – which is the usual topic of conversation between most Disney princesses and their co-stars. As portrayed in the film, Ariel is not so attached to her sisters that giving them up is something that weighs heavily on her mind in her decision to become human but they still support her for her wedding day at the end of the film. I wonder what the sisters were thinking the whole time she was gone.

 

Friends as Close as Sisters

Tiana & Charlotte La Bouff

Having spent countless hours together as young girls, these two function like sisters despite being from very separate social spheres. If their nicknames for each other (Tia and Lottie) aren’t enough to convince you of their close relationship, then consider how much they are willing to sacrifice for each other. In addition to giving Tiana the last amount of money she needs to purchase the old mill, Lottie is willing to kiss a frog and give up marrying a prince so that Tiana can marry the love of her life. Tiana changed all of her plans to make the extra beignets for Lottie’s party at the drop of a hat and put up with how spoiled Lottie is for years. Lottie never really realizes the importance of hard work but Lottie’s belief in magic rubbed off on Tiana just enough to help her reach her dream. Most importantly, they are one of the very few examples of inter-racial friendship in Disney films (I’m not going into inter-species friendships, okay? Because then Dori and Destiny are definitely #goals) so while not perfect example of intersectional feminism, these girls’ friendship is nevertheless valuable.

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From Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

Pocahontas & Nakoma

Friends from childhood, these two powerful young women definitely talk about men a lot (as I’m sure most women would if a huge group of eligible bachelors showed up out of the blue). But these two also push each other to be better versions of themselves and are each other’s confidantes. Their voyage down the river is like the colonial times version of a roadtrip and I’m sure they went on several other adventures together and have regaled each other with their stories around the fire night after night (which is almost as good as catching up over weekend brunch).

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From Disney’s Pocahontas

Which female friendship resonates most with you? Share this with a Disney-loving female companion and tell her how much you appreciate her!

Ariel’s sisters’ names are Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Alana. Did you get them all right?

 

 

 

Listicles · PhD Life · Princess Life · Uncategorized

If Disney Princesses were PhD Students

Each and every Disney Princess is capable of putting in the dedication and effort required to earn her PhD. So if their dreams were to finish grad school, what would their theses be on?

Snow White – Materials Science and Engineering.

Based on her life at 14, which leaves a lot of time to grow and have her interests change before the typical age of entering graduate school (looking at you Princess Leia), Snow would likely get sick of cleaning up after seven little men pretty quickly. But channeling the inventiveness of real-life women who were looking to improve the efficiency of the tasks they were expected to do (and came up with a few handy things like windshield wipers, Kevlar, and solar-heated homes), Snow White would set out to study materials and their various cleaning properties. Who knows, she might even patent a robot besides the Roomba (also invented by a woman) that whistles while it works!

Cinderella – Clinical Psychology.

Her kindness and her own childhood experiences would prepare Cindy well for researching and providing therapy for her royal subjects, particularly those in foster care. Taking classes would give her knowledge of forms of care to prescribe other than befriending mice or expecting a fairy godmother. I just hope she’s more punctual with her clinical appointments by the time she graduates than she was with her the stroke of midnight.

Aurora – Neuroscience.

Specifically, she would study the still unanswered questions of why humans need sleep and how consciousness works during slumber. This would allow her to better defend her everyday arguments for why cursing the entire kingdom with 100 years of slumber was actually GOOD for everyone. She could also run studies on the neuronal activation patterns of true love’s kiss which I’m sure Prince Philip would happily volunteer for.

Ariel – Anthropology.

This little mermaid has always been fascinated by humans and would have a hard time settling in on ONE question or even just a few to answer with her dissertation. But she did seem particularly keen on fire and all its causes and consequences, although incorporating that into a likely career in museum curation (she’s already got gadgets and gizmos aplenty) might be a little difficult. Nevertheless, I’d love to see her take on an interactive exhibit about man’s red flower.

Belle – Comparative Literature.

This beauty’s obsession with stories and faraway places isn’t focused on any one time period or even language (the tale of Aladdin is rumored to be one of her favorites though). Reading through the entire library in the castle she shares with Beast would give her a voluminous head start on the adventure of earning her doctorate.

Jasmine – Economics.

She wanted to know how the people outside of her palace walls lived so she’d have to pick a program that allows for in-depth field work. This, coupled with Jasmine’s responsibilities as a sultana (I just learned a new word), makes studying economic theories a good fit. She’d learn how to determine how her policy decisions would affect the economy. This would help her devise better welfare programs than stealing bread and apples.

Pocahontas – Environmental Policy.

Protecting the natural environment is of utmost importance to this daughter of a village chief. Researching the effects of deforestation on ecosystems around the globe and the effectiveness of various grassroots organizations would probably be her choice of dissertation topic. I can see the title now – We are All Connected To Each Other: In a Circle, in a Hoop that Never Ends – because all good titles have colons.

Mulan – Political Science.

Excellent army generals are often appointed as higher-ups in government, and Mulan would definitely be my choice for Secretary of Defense. After years of researching women’s roles in government and military decisions, maybe picking up a law degree along the way, she’d have a few more diplomatic tricks up her sleeve than using fireworks as her weapon of choice. And she could pave the way for proving that women aren’t “too temperamental” to lead an army.

Tiana – Biochemistry.

Besides earning an MBA, Tiana would realize that gaining a better understanding of the chemistry of food and how humans enjoy it would be the next best thing for growing the success of her restaurants. With a working knowledge of the science of digestion, I wonder if she’d ever put frog legs on the menu.

Merida – Aerospace Engineering.

Stemming from her passion for archery, Merida would likely have an interest in other flying objects like planes and spaceships. Plus, it’s a field that has a lot of barriers to break – for women, the speed of sound, the speed of light, etc. She’d be in the thick of developing military technology as well, which would pair well with her experiences dealing with the other clans.

Rapunzel – Physics and Astronomy.

Despite the wealth of knowledge and skills that she accumulated in her years in her tower (somehow with only a few books and a lot of craft supplies at her disposal), what fascinated Rapunzel the most were the stars. Naturally, her new dream would be to study the forces that control everything from her hair’s incredible strength to the creation of “balls of gas, burning billions of miles away”, to quote one of Disney’s most philosophical characters. She might even win a few scientific images contests with her artistic inclinations.

Moana – History.

All she knows is that she is descended from voyagers and I’d bet ten coconuts that she wants to learn a little bit more about her people. Her persistence and curiosity would serve her well in navigating through the literature on Polynesian History and Culture to write an impressive dissertation. She would probably have to find a new advisor besides Maui though – who knows what the department policy on having a demi-god as a committee member would be?

What discipline do you think these twelve leading ladies would choose? Comment below with which ones you agree with most!