As far as Disney Princesses go, Belle is certainly the best-suited to a United Nations Ambassador of gender equality. #Emma Watson has taken the global stage numerous times to talk about feminism and has pioneered the HeForShe campaign. And although Watson was recently described as a hypocrite based on her revealing Vanity Fair photoshoot, she soon replied to these comments in an interview with Reuters. Watson said: “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with” And so it is no surprise that Watson’s take on Belle is all about empowerment. However, this feminist heroine has a lot more similarities to #Hermione Granger than just being a bookworm in an enchanted castle...

1. Popularity

“Never part of any crowd. ‘Cause her head’s up on some cloud. No denying she’s a funny girl that Belle.” These are the words of the eponymous song that introduces the character of Belle. It is clear that she doesn’t fit in and isn’t very popular in the town because she is intelligent and likes to read. The same could be said for Hermione. Looking back to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, before the young witch became an indispensable part of the famous trio she wasn’t very popular for the same reasons. Ron, after being corrected on his pronunciation of ‘Wingardium Leviosa’, even says: “She’s a nightmare, honestly. It’s no wonder she hasn’t got any friends!” But both of the characters go on to become highly admired proving you don't need to be ‘Prom Queen’ to achieve greatness.

2. Vanity

Belle, by name and by nature, is a beauty. However, she doesn’t obsess about her appearance. On a day-to-day basis, she wears boots (as they are practical), keeps her hair simple, and doesn’t bother with any make-up or extravagant dresses - unlike the other girls in town. The physical appearance of J. K. Rowling’s Hermione is rarely described at all. But, it is known that she has bushy, hard-to-manage hair and her attitude towards her appearance is very much the same as Belle’s. The only time she makes effort with her untameable locks is for the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire: “she confessed to Harry that she had used liberal amounts of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion on it for the ball, ‘but it’s way too much bother to do every day’.”

3. Sexuality

Gaston says: “Belle is the most beautiful girl in the village, that makes her the best.” And so it is clear that his desire to marry her is solely due to a physical attraction. And while every other girl pines for Gaston, Belle isn’t interested and finds him annoying. In a featurette for Beauty & The Beast, Director Bill Condon says Belle is “someone who is more interested in figuring out who she is, than in finding a guy and getting married.” Hermione’s relationship with Viktor Krum is very similar. Krum is also very masculine, muscular and somewhat a celebrity, resulting in him being followed around the castle by large groups of girls. But Hermione shows him no interest. Even when she starts to date Krum, she says: “Viktor’s more of a physical being. I just mean he’s not particularly loquacious. Mostly, he watches me study. It’s a bit annoying actually.”

4. Equality

To Belle everyone and everything is equal. This is first exemplified in her efforts to teach a little girl to read, but continues through to her treatment of Philipe the horse, the castle’s servants and of course the Beast. Hermione also shows such empathy for others, as she will often stand up for those that can’t defend themselves. In the books this is seen by her founding ‘SPEW’ - The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. A movement designed to gain better working conditions for Hogwarts’ servants and other house elves. Both characters not only mirror each other with this shared quality, but they also reflect Watson’s personal ambitions with the HeForShe campaign. Especially given ‘SPEW’ was originally a Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in 1859.

#Beauty The Beast