When I decided to write a blog about the top 10 best cartoons for children that feature strong female leads, I was excited to do a bit of research about the topic. I have a six-year-old daughter and I would love to have more films in our collection for her to enjoy. But I suppose I shouldn’t have set my expectation so high; I was not able to more than five films.
To qualify for my list, the film had to have a leading, strong female who saves herself, for the most part. She’s not a buddy or a sidekick (like Jesse in Toy Story 2), and she is the central character of the film itself. She is also not a princess; I didn’t want a single princess film in the list. Here is what I came up with so far:
- Coraline, which is much too scary for her right now at this age
- The Secret of Nimh, which is also a little scary, but a very good film
- Ferngully, which she loves
- Ponyo, which actually features the lead character’s name in its title
- My Neighbor Totoro, my daughter’s all-time favorite movie
I was going to include Gnomeo and Juliet, but Juliet is quite secondary to Gnomeo in the movie, and the male gnome is the “saving” character, not the female. I could think of a few other films that aren’t animated that would qualify, like Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer and Ramona and Beezus, but shouldn’t this be easier? With the dozens of cartoons that are released, shouldn’t coming up with a mere ten that feature a strong female lead who isn’t a princess be easy?
Think of all of the films you know that feature a strong male lead. How many of those are princes?
I’d like to echo the demands of one of my favorite bloggers at ReelGirl, who says that all of the girls have basically disappeared from films and that Hollywood needs to stop making films without featuring half of the population.
I am beyond ready for some leading females in cartoons and movies for ALL children, not just girls or boys. One of my new dreams is to write a film—or a dozen—for this purpose. I want them to be good, quality pieces of entertainment for all children that feature an equal representation of male and female characters. I challenge Hollywood and the media in general to meet this goal and start making movies that our daughters can relate to immediately.