Here’s What the Princess Diaries Taught Me About Love, Friendship and Individuality

The Walt Disney Company

I will forever be revisiting The Princess Diaries. It’s one of those films that stays with you, and I can’t believe that it turns 20 years old today.

Not only has it got an incredible cast (Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo), but it’s a coming of age film that follows literally every girl’s dream of becoming a princess, but makes it relatable to the real struggle of figuring out how to be an individual in your teen years.

It’s both lighthearted and romantic, as well as being deeply relatable, which isn’t something you often get with Disney rom coms.

The Princess Diaries is a classic. It taught me to be brave enough to be myself, that cucumber rounds actually do nothing for your eyes and that the best love stories are the one with your friends.

So, that said, here are the five lessons I learnt from The Princess Diaries and still carry with me today.

m&m’s are sexy

Is it just me, or do m&m’s play an integral role in Michael’s sex appeal in The Princess Diaries? Yes, I’m talking about that scene where he’s playing in his grunge/punk/rock band at the garage he works at (super cool already), and he has m&m’s on his keyboard. They’re bouncing around as he’s playing and every now and then, he eats one. It’s the most random thing, like, how did he come up with that idea? But somehow, it’s sexy. It’s absolutely Michael’s turning point in the film. He goes from being the quiet, awkward and shy brother, to a cute and weirdly sexy musician. I think it’s the fact that he’s totally in his own world and doesn’t care what anyone thinks, and also the fact that he can multitask so seamlessly… a difficult feat for the usual teenage boy. I love that the m&m’s don’t seem like a personal choice by him to make him seem cool, they’re more like an afterthought or a weird nerdy thing you’d do with your closest mates and somehow, it’s a vibe.

Sadly, I’ve never seen someone playing a keyboard with m&m’s on it in real life. But, if I ever do, I’ll make sure to flirt with them.

Being an outsider is cooler than being ‘cool’

This was the first film I ever watched where it dawned on me that being not cool, was cool (I actually wrote a whole story about it here). Mia had spent most of her life wanting to be a cool girl who dates the hottest boy in school, while always feeling exceptionally uncool. Through her journey of learning she’s a princess and trying to become more like a princess, she struggles through what’s expected of her and how she feels inside. Ultimately, she and those around her learn from each other, that standing out isn’t a negative thing and that if you’re being true to yourself, other people can connect with you on a deeper level.

It’s never too late to say sorry

The m&m’s feature again, but this time, they’re on a pizza. If Mia Thermopolis can find the time and creativity in the midst of running away from her destiny to get an apology pizza delivered to the guy-she-likes’ door, then we have no excuse. Perhaps the most iconic apology gesture of any Disney movie, Mia sends a pizza to Michael’s door, with ‘SORRY’ spelt out in m&m’s. Given Michael’s thing for m&m’s, it’s an especially cute gesture and ultimately, she gets her Prince Charming back.

I actually tried this once, but I used a cake and smarties instead. FYI, it worked! It’s a story for another time, but I don’t think you can ever go wrong with an apology and comfort food.

The hot boys are not always the best

I think we can all agree that Josh sucks. Sure, he has that beach Ken look that was super hot in 2001, but I love that this film doesn’t glorify him. The Princess Diaries really doesn’t shy away from tackling the social segregation and relentless bullying that can come with high school, especially how easy it is to be sucked in to idolising the cool kids. Mia had built up a fantasy of Josh and what he’d be like to date, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. I like how in this film, although he’s shown to be the cute guy that everyone wants to date, they also show what’s underneath, which is shallow, selfish and cruel.

Stand up for yourself

There are so many iconic moments throughout The Princess Diaries when people stand up for themselves and get a positive result. These are some of my favourites:

  1. Mia clapping back at Lana, who is bullying her and Jeremiah by smearing her ice cream all over Lana’s cheerleading outfit in the school yard. The teachers look on in amusement, knowing that Lana deserved it, and Mia finally found her strength in a scenario that previously made her feel worthless. Iconic.
  2. Michael being honest with Mia about how he feels, even though he feels intimidated by her ‘princess’ status. That ultimately ends up with Mia realising what she wants, which is the beauty of communication, people. If you like someone, tell them.
  3. Mia’s mum Helen standing up for her unconventional lifestyle and her relationship with Mia’s teacher. She is truly a single mum living her best life as an artist in a refurbished fire station and we love this single woman boss lady representation.

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