From the early childhood parents give their children to watch cartoons that should teach them what is good and what is bad. Girls are often suggested to watch Disney fairy tales about beautiful princesses, who are waiting for their princes and true love. But it seems that the phenomenon of girls in trouble and the distressed damsel is already rather boring for modern society, and above all – the modern educated woman. She does not like that since childhood she is taught to be depended from the man and to wait for her rescue. Nowadays, the Princess should take matters into the hands and solve problems on her own. 

Maybe that is why animations such as Frozen and The Princess and the Frog become so popular (especially the first). In this story, a romantic line pushed into the background, and true love is shown between the two sisters who escape from the plight of using their own brain. Perhaps, this cartoon could easily pass the Bechdel test. Unfortunately, there are few stories like that in the big box. On the fight against this injustice the hero of our story – Jason Porath – has spent the last couple years. As a result, he created his own project – a series of illustrations «Rejected Princesses» – which is not exactly suitable for animated kids’ movies.


How Idea Was Born

Jason Porath is a former effects animator at DreamWorks Animation. He used to wok at such animated movies as How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Croods, and Kung Fu Panda 2. In addition, Porath also has a degree in film criticism, so he was able to bring his adjustments and ideas in the development of new projects. He used this opportunity to fully and often offered long detailed screeds. However, he rarely got the answers. Eventually, Porath came to understand these comments were more or less votes to be tallied in Rotten Tomatoes-like aggregate, and only acted upon in instances of an overwhelming mandate. Once he realized that, the animator tried to start juking the stats to game the system. «When I felt very strongly about something, I’d urge my co-workers to write the same note, to give it more weight,» – Porath says.

Rejected Princesses. Jason Porath


Even while working on How to Train Your Dragon 2 he tried to convince the directors that Astrid, the badass female Viking from the first movie, has to have a more prominent role. «I argued she should be chief at the end of the movie. Her role was improved — she got more moments to strut her stuff — but I still felt it was a betrayal of her character. I felt that she went from a three-dimensional foil to a two-dimensional girlfriend». This kind of compromise is all too common in the Hollywood system.

Porath writes that in one of the conversations with his colleagues they discussed «what is the least likely woman to ever get the animated princess treatment?». «Some of them were such good ideas I just had to see them illustrated, so I did some illustrations (despite having little to no artistic background). As soon as I put them online, they went viral, and it became my full-time job», – said Porath. Thus, in 2014 Porath first popped up on Co.Create’s radar, when he began his Rejected Princesses project.

Rejected Princesses. Jason Porath


It was originally a collection of illustrations about historical and mythical women, who are unlikely to become heroines of children’s cartoons ever. For example, the project has Sergeant Mariya Oktyabrskaya, the first women to win the Hero of the Soviet Union Award, and Fredegund, a 6th-century Merovingian queen consort with a penchant for killing people. Based on past experience, the animator chose historical figures whose stories cross genres and sometimes moral boundaries, but never rely on male protagonists to save their hides.


The Physical Results Of The Work

In 2016, Porath had a sufficient number of illustrations, he decided to combine them into a single book. The design, that he chose, is the same unusual and impressive as the heroine inside the book. For the cover Porath took muted mauve color, and for the emblem – a cracked mirror on the wall. You will certainly have an association with a storybook that open at the beginning of a Disney movie. «I wanted the book to be an artifact, to feel timeless,» – Porath said, –  «It’s patterned after medieval illuminated manuscripts, with a modern flair. It was important to me that it have some heft».

Rejected Princesses. Jason Porath


A Place For New Stories

Although, most of characters in the book are women from the far past, Porath sure he could find in the modern world the examples that are not worse. For him, one of them is Hillary Clinton. «She lived a lifetime being torched under a magnifying glass, and, iron-clad as she is, the burn marks were evident,» – said Porath, – «her policies and flaws were on par with almost any male politician’s. But her ambition made her seem a little «off» to many. Unfamiliar. Unsettling. We live in a world that has no place for imperfect women».

Her defeat in the elections does not allow Porath to doubt her durability and strength. He is convinced that her story can be an inspiration to many people: «She was an ordinary person, same as you or me or anyone. But she stepped up. If I have learned anything from this project, it is that history is made by ordinary people who stepped up».

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