Mai Bhago

Mai Bhago, 18th century Sikh warrior-saint and only survivor of the Battle of Khidrana, seen here decapitating a guy. Read the rest of her story here.

Fredegund

Fredegund was a 6th-century Merovingian queen consort with a penchant for killing people. She nearly killed her own daughter, in fact, just for vocally aspiring to her eventual throne. Read the rest of her story here.

Nzinga

Nzinga Mbande, 17th-century queen of what is now Angola. Some rumors about her, "to be taken with a brick of salt, include: After killing her brother’s family, she ate their hearts to absorb their courage; she maintained a 60-man-strong harem throughout her life — this one, best I can tell, is more regarded as true than most of the others." Read her story here.

Corn Maiden

Corn Maiden, mythological Native American figure who purportedly fixed the corn shortage by making corn out of her body. The variations across this legend about what happened next are innumerable, including one in which the villagers tied her up and tossed her in the river.

Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut, arguably the greatest pharaoh in history, ruled for less than twenty-two years. To quiet gossip at court, she began her rule wearing men’s clothing, including the pharaoh’s false beard.

Penta

Penta, sister to the king, who chopped off her own hands to avoid the king's intended ancestral marriage proposal. (He'd said her hands were here most attractive feature.) In return, he stuffed her in a trunk and tossed it in the ocean. She survives, and eventually a sorcerer gets her hands back. Read her story here.

Sita

Sita, from the Ramayana. Ravana kidnaps princess Sita, and Rama goes on bloody rampage for years in order to get her back. Unfortunately, Rama then sends Sita into exile, pregnant with their kids, when a rumor emerges that she's had relations with a demon. Read more here.

Beloved

Beloved, from Toni Morrison’s novel of the same name. Beloved appears to be the dead daughter of freed slave Sethe, who Sethe killed as a two-year-old to keep her away from slavers. A decade later someone who seems to be Beloved appears magically and turns Sethe's mind inside-out.

Wu Zetian

Wu Zetian, first and only female Emperor of China, who poisoned her own infant daughter to frame the old queen and get her out of the way. (It worked, and the old queen was summarily executed.) Read her story here.

Pasiphaë

Pasiphaë, mythological Greek queen who supposedly gave birth to a Minotaur. Also, she made a charm so that if her husband slept with anyone besides her, he would ejaculate serpents, scorpions, and millipedes.

Lolita

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s 12-year-old enchantress, with whom a grown man gets so obsessed, he marries her mother so he can be close to her--eventually becoming her legal guardian.

Sergeant Mariya Oktyabrskaya

Sergeant Mariya Oktyabrskaya, the first female tanker to ever win the Hero of the Soviet Union award. After her army officer husband Ilya was killed in action, Mariya sold literally all of their belongings in order to buy a tank.
On her first outing in the tank, she outmaneuvered the German soldiers, killing around thirty of them and taking out an anti-tank gun. In the end, she was taken out by a mortar round when she got out of her tank to fix it. Read more about her here.

Co.Create

Meet 12 "Rejected Princesses" Who Are Too Badass For Disney

"Rejected Princesses" gives stories and illustrations to princesses who'll probably never have movies made about them. Here's how it's done.

At this point, we've seen just about every iteration of Disney princesses recontextualized by creative fans. The well may have run dry, but this exhaustion speaks to how eager a global audience is for animated females who break the traditional Disney mold. In the meantime, one writer has started conjuring some new princesses who break that mold so comprehensively they've become more likely characters for violent indie thrillers than family-oriented studio fare. Which is kind of a shame.

Former DreamWorks effects animator and fledgling artist Jason Porath recently created Rejected Princesses, a website that features detailed, often hilarious stories and illustrations about some historical and mythical women who were just too darn interesting to end up with their own big budget four-quadrant vehicles. It's a counter example to the litany of animated heroines who seem to lack much agency; the ones who have some semblance of power within reach, but too often end up relying on a romantic interest or other helpful tropes, to save the day. (Porath cites Hayao Miyazaki's--especially Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind--as popular counter-examples.)

Rejected Princesses developed out of a lunchtime conversation at Porath's old workplace back in February, during which he and some colleagues tried to determine who'd make the least suitable candidate for an animated princess. After eventually soliciting some suggestions on Facebook, the gears began to grind in Porath's imagination and he was very much compelled to see what some of these characters might look like, even if he had to draw them himself.

"Each woman is based off as much visual reference of the actual story as possible," the artist says of the project which formally launched last week. "As opposed to any specific cinematic princess that's come before. The influences are different for each woman's story, with an eye towards detail. Pasiphae's entry, for example, is actually set in the historical palace at Knossos, has the constellation for Taurus in the background, and even uses her laurel to give her figurative 'horns.'"

Initially he went strictly off of friends and Facebook folks' suggestions. Once he started doing heavy research for some of these characters, others would announce themselves and prolong the research phase indefinitely.

"I tried to cast a wide net with this first batch--not just culturally and racially diverse, but pulling from history, fiction, and myth," Porath says. "Some are badass, some sociopathic, and some are just bizarre. The idea can be an umbrella for a lot of stories, and I wanted to see which ones people would react to."

Now that the response has surpassed anything Porath had been hoping for, with fans sending in loads of requests every day, expect to see lots more unorthodox examples going forward--even if Disney, Dreamworks and the like don't follow suit.

Have a look at more Rejected Princesses in the gallery above and read one of Porath's stories in full below.

Mariya



Here’s one of the most badass Rejected Princesses of all: Sergeant Mariya Oktyabrskaya, the first female tanker to ever win the Hero of the Soviet Union award, and her tank, Fighting Girlfriend.

During World War 2, her army officer husband Ilya was killed in action. In response, Mariya sold literally all of their belongings in order to buy a tank. She then wrote Stalin the following letter:

"My husband was killed in action defending the motherland. I want revenge on the fascist dogs for his death and for the death of Soviet people tortured by the fascist barbarians. For this purpose I’ve deposited all my personal savings--50,000 rubles--to the National Bank in order to build a tank. I kindly ask to name the tank ‘Fighting Girlfriend’ and to send me to the frontline as a driver of said tank."

Stalin wrote back pretty quickly and said yes.

Initially, the army was skeptical of her ability to handle a tank. However, she quickly proved in training that she could drive, shoot, and throw grenades with the best of them--skills she’d picked up from her late husband, with whom she’d presumably had some interesting dates.

On her first outing in the tank, she outmaneuvered the German soldiers, killing around thirty of them and taking out an anti-tank gun. When they shelled her tank, immobilizing Fighting Girlfriend, she got out--in the middle of a firefight--and repaired the damn thing. She then got back in and proceeded to kill more Germans.

During all this, she wrote a letter to her sister describing her time in the war. She told her “I’ve had my baptism by fire. I beat the bastards. Sometimes I’m so angry I can’t even breathe.”

In the end, she was taken out by a mortar round when she got out of her tank in the middle of yet another firefight to fix Fighting Girlfriend. She was awarded the highest honor in the Soviet Military and is buried in one of the nation’s most sacred cemeteries.

Art notes:

  • That’s roughly what her outfit would have looked like, depending on the time of year.
  • The model of tank depicted is a T34 tank, the actual one that Fighting Girlfriend was.
  • The Fighting Girlfriend logo was on the side of the turret, just out of the cropping of this picture, so it didn’t make the cut. I didn’t want to be inaccurate and just put it on the turret.
  • Mariya is actually sitting in front of the machine gunner’s outlook, so it would be jutting into her and presumably she wouldn’t be very comfortable. It was the only way I could make the composition I had in mind work.
  • The German soldiers used many different color tracer rounds, but red was among them.
  • The planes in the background are PE-8 Petlyakov Soviet bombers.

[Illustrations by Jason Porath]

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10 Comments

  • hannahsquirrel

    Your depiction of Sita for the rejected princess is wrong. She was not pregnant with Rama's children and she was never exiled by anyone. To follow the values of her culture she stood by her husband Rama whom upheld his brother's mother's wish for him to be exiled for 14 years. She never let Ravana get close enough to touch her. She is a reincarnation of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, born from Agni, the Goddess of Fire. Get your alleged stories right! These are insults to cultures, I hope you know. Man up, and either learn your facts or just don't write about it at all.

  • tittiesprinkles

    Wow I'm surprised there isn't one about Tomoe Gozen. She was Yohinaka's wife during the Genpei Wars in Japan and had the nicknames of "Godslayer" and "Horse-Breaker" and was famous for being beautiful, deadly with a GREATSWORD, and a pretty good koto musician as well.

    Even their divorce was crazy. Yoshinaka had lead a failed attack with his wife as his captain and sat surrounded on all sides with everyone dead or fleeing, stuck in a house and Tomoe being one of FIVE survivors of a charge of 3K and guarding the entranceway. Yoshinaka said nobody would ever remember him seriously if he died with his wife guarding him, ordered her to flee at all costs to which she became enraged at the idea after all she had done for him, walked out to the thirty enemy cavalrymen guarding the house, asked who was the strongest one in the bunch, calmly walked up to him and TORE HIS HEAD OFF WITH HER BARE HANDS, and threw down her sword and helmet in front of the stunned cavalrymen and became a nun.

  • custossilentium

    With a few of these, you really should consider looking up the definitions of "badass" and "sociopath." There's not quite as much common ground as you seem to think.

  • custossilentium

    With a few of these, you really should consider looking up the definitions of "badass" and "sociopath." There's not quite as much common ground as you seem to think.