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Princess Profiles: Jasmine

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A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here, it’s crystal clear
That now I’m in a whole new world with you

Jasmine from Aladdin (1992) continued the trend of empowered Disney Princesses of the 90s.jamsine-princess-disney Just like Ariel and Belle, Jasmine is confident and strong, standing up for herself and not taking no for an answer.

Jasmine has lived all her life within the confines of the palace of Agrabah, so naturally she wishes to break free. Her father wants to see her married off, but Jasmine is not one to be forced into a marriage. One night, out of sheer desperation and a desire to breakaway, she decides to venture out into the unknown.

Jasmine isn’t the star of her movie, Aladdin is; Jasmine is relegated to a secondary love interest. However, Disney did a great job of infusing her character with enough depth and strength to stand on her own. They easily could have made her seem like a lifeless pretty face with zero personality (after all, she isn’t the star of the movie), but I’m pleased with their decision to go with a strong, concrete woman with a great personality.

Most Disney Princesses have a bevy of cute forest animals like rabbits and squirrels running around them. Jasmine has a tiger named Rajah. So no self-respecting man ought to mess with her. For the most part, that’s what makes Jasmine so awesome. The fact that she has a pet tiger is reason enough to know that she is no-nonsense, and you better have a strong reason to approach her.

Despite her toughness, Jasmine has many of the qualities that make a Disney Princess™: She’s sweet, caring and gentle. At the same time she’s fun loving and a little flirty.

Jafar, the film’s villain, fancies himself as Jasmine’s husband (because he wants the throne). Being the defiant female she is, of course Jasmine rejects him up front. She cannot imagine a life tied to someone she doesn’t love, despite the law that she “must be married to a prince”. Jasmine is vehemently opposed to the law, but unfortunately she has no choice.

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“When I marry, I want it to be for love”

A major theme in the movie Aladdin is “freedom”. Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar and the Genie all want to be freed from their respective traps. Jasmine wants the freedom to marry whoever she wishes, whenever she wishes. She wants to see the world and not be stuck indoors like she always has been. Meeting Aladdin changed that for her- she finally became free to live her own life–and see the world like she always dreamed (not that she needed a man to do that, as you’d recall, she was the one who ran off to seek adventure all by herself).

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“Unbelievable sights! Indescribable feeling!”

I’d probably list out character flaws, but we hardly get to see any in Jasmine. Which is a good thing. Sure, she tends to be a little too stubborn, headstrong and hot headed (like when she allowed Rajah to rip off Prince Achmed’s underpants), but at the same time, she’s playful and dynamic, balancing out her little character kinks out evenly.

"Good job Rajah, another man down"

“Good job, Rajah… “

I’ve been saving a significant point for the end of the post. In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, Jasmine is officially the first non-white Disney princess in history. Up until 1992, every single Disney princess had been white-skinned and very European. With Jasmine, Disney finally looked to the East. Here, at last, was a princess every little Arabian or Indian girl could look up to and aspire to be. Thankfully Disney wasn’t pressured to be politically correct or inoffensive, to the point of diluting the magic of Jasmine’s character. To date, Jasmine remains the sole representative of the Middle East among Disney Princesses.

Another reason I applaud Jasmine is her major decision to reject an arranged marriage. In the Middle East and much of Asia, arranged marriages have always been, and still are, widely common. If you’re a young woman, you’d have little choice in whom to marry, much of it would be arranged by your family. So much so that you’d meet your husband (or wife) just a few days before the wedding! Jasmine, at least, being a princess, had the opportunity to meet and reject potential suitors, a privilege few girls of the time would have. Of course, changing times have made arranged marriages far less common as young women take a stand, but from a Disney viewpoint, back in 1992 this was revolutionary. Jasmine herself tells her father, “I hate being rushed into this!” and goes on to say, “If I marry, I want it to be for love”. What an impressive step for the 90s feminist movement! Through Jasmine, Disney pushed women’s rights to all new heights, adding a new dimension to women’s portrayal in film.

Independent, fierce and headstrong, Jasmine has always been way ahead of her time period, paving the way for even more Disney princesses who weren’t just good looking–they could stand on their own feet. Jasmine made the brave decision to take a stand against a marriage she didn’t want, inspiring a generation of young women to believe in themselves and follow their hearts.

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  • Dave

    This is well written and well said.

  • Best princess is the best.

  • Good article!

    Not all arranged marriages had the two respective people meet just days before the wedding, I would say not even the majority was like that. Many times people were married to other people whose family was friends with their family, hence they’ve known each other for a long time. I come from a culture where arranged marriages exist, and granted, some of them are done with ulterior motives and/or end up being unhappy marriages, but I feel like I should stand up for the arranged marriages that end up happy and “un-evil-ize” the concept of arranged marriage, lol.

    “Unbelievable sight, indescribable feeling” is my favorite lyric of that song. And shout-out to Jasmine’s singing voice, Lea Salonga, and her speaking voice, Linda Larkin.

    • Thanks! I agree, different cultures have had different reasons for arranged marriages. It’s just great to see more and more young people these days take a stand if they don’t want to be forced into it by family (Sure, a lot of arranged marriages are successful and happy, but still).

      And wow, Lea Salonga is one of my favorite Disney Legends! Her voice is stirring!

    • anii654 (Jayden-G)

      I think it is jut because of the Western World stereotyping cultures they are not familiar with.

  • anii654 (Jayden-G)

    Another great article. Jasmine is my favourite DP, and I totally forgot she was one of THE first in media to reject arranged marriages. It could have been too easy to make her the bland love interest, but they have her character. I actually like that she is not perfect, does not put up with a lot, and has values and standards.

  • disqus_4f0x2ILDgI

    I love, LOVE Jasmine! She is the perfect model of how to do a non-white Disney Princess right. As gorgeous as a Bollywood actress but a beauty that is never reduced to just “exotic appeal”, fiercely independent, fiery, kind, caring and earthy but never reduced to blandness of perfection robbed of a REAL personality, thanks to an overabundance of political correctness. Unfortunately, Pocahontas who followed her fell into many of these traps.

    Still think Jasmine and Aladdin are Disney’s best couple till date! <3

    • I think it’s a royal shame that Disney doesn’t promote Jasmine as a princess too much anymore. She’s taken a backseat to more popular ones like Cinderella and Rapunzel. She’s a mighty torchbearer for the Middle East and one of my all time favorites! Go Jas! 🙂

      • disqus_4f0x2ILDgI

        She’s wildly popular in India too because she’s the closest we have to a Disney Princess! (Mowgli may have been the first non-white Disney animation lead character which is GREAT for Indian representation but about time we had our own DP too!) 😀

        • Guest

          I have to agree that Jamine and Aladdin are one of Disney’s best couples and have a lot of chemistry together.

  • Natalie

    Great article, again! Jasmine is one of the best of the Disney Princesses, and is so underrated. She’s so fierce and headstrong, and how can you not love a character who claims, “I am not a prize to be won!”

    • disqus_4f0x2ILDgI

      Yup, Jasmine’s stance on marriage is doubly awesome because not only does she not want to get rushed into an arranged marriage, but she also doesn’t want to be “won” in a shallow and stereotypical manner like the way Prince Ali was proposing. That scene where Jasmine singlehandedly confronts Ali, Sultan and Jafar together about making decisions for her without even consulting her is all kinds of win!

      • Looking back, I think it’s amusing how Aladdin struts into town with his entire “Prince Ali” parade hoping it’ll impress Jasmine…but she just rolls her eyes and walks away!

        • V

          I just think the “Be Yourself!” message of Aladdin is handled brilliantly in the film. It’s not “Prince Ali” with his showy riches and parades which impress Jasmine, but the humble street rat whom she meets in the marketplace, who helps her out of a sticky situation with nothing but his wits and resourcefulness. And it’s not until “Prince Ali” shows signs of emotional intelligence that she takes an inkling of an interest in him.

          Seriously, Jasmine has just got layers and layers of appeal.

  • “Love me, love my pets!” Tigers seem like royal sleek creatures to me and knowing Jasmine has one as a pet gives her a classy and unique style. I felt somewhat bad for Jasmine since she was truly a protected flower, never allowed out of the palace or to take risks. But she was able to speak her mind to her father even if they did clash on the same topics.

    Then there’s also the genuine side of her; she’s briefly angry with “Prince Ali” for lying to her about his facade, which means Jasmine doesn’t like being duped or deceived. “Did you think I was stupid?” This is one princess you shouldn’t take advantage of!

    Kudos for Gary for pointing out the theme of freedom in this movie and how it relates to several main characters. That’s Disney at its best–telling a fairy tale with insightful messages and how well the characters interact with each other. It doesn’t have to be overly-complicated either; a fairy tale can be straightforward yet fun and charming.

    • V

      Yup, Aladdin is my personal pinnacle of the Renaissance because it just gets soo many things right in terms of narrating a magical fairy-tale, exploring relevant social themes and messages without hitting people over the head with it, a movie with a big heart and oodles of charm, and yet being incredibly fun and entertaining! Best movie EVAH!!

  • Fadi Antwan

    Aladdin might just be my favorite Disney movie, and “A Whole New Word” is the epitome of Disney magic in my opinion.

    • That is my favorite Disney song of all time 🙂 No other song represents the Renaissance better!

  • Ariel

    Love it!

  • V

    Another interesting thing of note about Jasmine is that she is the ONLY major female character in the entire film! And still, she is so well realized, well-rounded and so full of feminine appeal that the movie not once feels overtly masculine or macho despite only having only one female character in its lead or supporting cast. That’s the power and charm of “the sight lovely to see!”

  • Can I just add that she is apart of one of the BEST Disney kisses ever?

    http://asg.animatedheroes.com/albums/aladdin/AJ_kiss.jpg

    • THE best, I’d say 😉

    • It’s a little bit too…exciting, lol!

    • disqus_4f0x2ILDgI

      I agree. The Magic Carpet is the coolest wingman to have!

    • V

      I forgot that Jasmine is the sole Disney Princess representation on The Rotoscopers logo(along with her little bird and the magic lamp). Which brings me to something I have always thought about. Morgan, did you and the other Rotoscopers specifically pick which characters would be included in the logo design or was that the designer’s choice? If you guys did pick those characters, why did you pick Jasmine over the other princesses?

      • We worked with the designer and included a few other princesses (Pocahontas was on there at one point). But ultimately, we choose Jasmine because her silhouette is very recognizable and didn’t take up much space (many of the princesses have voluminous dresses).

        • V

          Aah, that was an interesting tidbit about the behind the scenes workings of The Rotoscopers! Thanks. 🙂

  • Mason Smith

    Excellent post, Gary!

  • disneyfanguything

    we can also find symbolism for jasmine in the film as well.
    1. when she first appeared, she sat next to a water fountain: water being the most sacred thing in Arabia since its a desert there and she is also wearing a costume with the exact same color, showing that jasmine is a rare flower
    2. her bed is shaped like a bird-cage: shows that she is locked away from the outside world and yearns to break free. this can be shown when she let the birds in the actual birdcage out.

    • disqus_4f0x2ILDgI

      I love how the dichotomy in the first two meetings between Al and Jas. Initially, it is Jasmine who is disguised as a commoner when she meets Aladdin and then it is Aladdin pretending to be a prince to charm and marry the princess. And yet, it isn’t their respective social statuses which attract them to each other but their own individual personalities. It really gives an extra dimension to the Aladdin and Jasmine relationship and ties perfectly into the “Be Yourself!” message of the film as well.

  • Meg

    AAHH! I love this one! These princess profiles are so amusing to read. I can’t wait for my three favourites Mulan, Tianna and Rapunzel’s article.