Meet the modern-day princesses: young women and girls who won't take "no" for an answer.

By Lauren Mazzo
August 16, 2017

Whether you grew up daydreaming about having a mermaid tail like Ariel or sword-fighting skills like Mulan, chances are the iconic Disney Princesses played some sort of role in your childhood. (Who knows, these #realtalk Disney Princess workout memes might have a spot in your adult life, too.)

However, the latest movie releases (Moana, Frozen, etc.) feature heroines different from the damsel-in-distress Cinderellas and Snow Whites of the past. Disney's newest project-the #DreamBigPrincess photo campaign-only adds to the "strong independent woman who don't need no Prince Charming" vibe of the modern-day princess pack. (Other encouraging news: Plus-size princesses might be on the horizon.)

The original "Dream Big, Princess" campaign launched in February 2016 to "inspire girls and kids of all ages to realize their ambitions." For this new photo series, Disney teamed up with the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up Campaign (a nonprofit that supports adolescent girls' leadership and empowerment around the world) to showcase a collection of empowering photos that capture real-life young women and girls who've dared to dream big. (And why not?! Girls of every generation should know they can do anything! After all, choosing a lofty goal can work in your favor.)

Top-notch female photographers (including Annie Griffiths, one of National Geographic's first female staff photographers, and Kate Parker, the photographer behind the "Strong Is the New Pretty" photo series) snapped photos of young women and girls around the world crushing their goals and defying stereotypes. Scroll through some favorites below.

While the photos and campaign message are incredibly powerful, Disney's venture has a larger purpose: August 15 through October 11, 2017, Disney will donate $1 for any public photo post using the hashtag #DreamBigPrincess on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, as well as $1 for any "like" on a #DreamBigPrincess post. They're pledging a minimum donation of $500,000 and a maximum of $1 million total to Girl Up.

Let these young women and girls inspire you to conquer your next challenge.

Native Brazilian photographer Luisa Dörr captured 11-year-old surfer, Sol, who dreams of becoming the first female world champion surfer from Brazil.

Ashima Narain, photographer and former photo editor of National Geographic Traveler India, snapped a photo of a young Indian girl breaking societal stereotypes by pursuing education and sports.

Photographer Ronit Cohen profiles 17-year-old Israeli Yarden Isaac who won the title of European Champion in Windsurfing for Youth.

Tutya Yilmaz, captured here by photographer Dilan Bozyel, is an 18-year-old artistic gymnast from Turkey and was the youngest gymnast to represent her country at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Photographer Kate Parker received global acclaim and recognition for her "Strong Is the New Pretty" photo series. Here, she captures Grace Bunke, who was diagnosed with a type of aggressive bone cancer at age 11, enjoying the sport she hopes will someday take her to the Paralympics.

Zakia, 23, was one of the first girls in the Bamiyan region of Afghanistan to ride a bike. (Woah!) Now, she leads her very own local women's cycling team, shown here, captured by photographer Paula Bronstein.


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