Take a Movie’s Advice: The Princess Diaries

Just consider yourself royally flushed.

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Take a Movie’s Advice is a weekly column attempting to discover the similarities between our favorite movies and real life. Grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show.

Remember when you accidentally spilled your drink on that brand new white dress? Or that time you were put on the spot by a family member and mumbled your way through a few awkward sentences? Maybe it was when you managed to knock over 150 water bottles, spill multiple bags of chips, and break a table. (That was only one time!)

Regardless of your exact experience, know that awkward situations happen to the best of us. The key is to approach life with class the rest of the time.

Your college years (and those after) are going to be filled with countless occasions where you’ll be expected to dress appropriately and act in a classy, put-together manner. So you need to know how to do this.

With the help of College Fashion, you’ll always stay updated with the current trends and know what to wear. But for maintaining that cool demeanor and approaching life with class, let’s seek guidance from our favorite Genovian Princess, Mia Thermopolis. 

Mia Thermopolis - The Princess Diaries

About the Movie 

Directed by Garry Marshall, The Princess Diaries (2001) revolves around Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), an ordinary high school student who discovers a not-so-ordinary secret. After her grandmother reveals that she’s the Queen of Genovia, Mia learns that her late father was the Crown Prince, making her a princess and ultimately an heir to the throne.

The Princess Diaries Movie Poster

The problem? Mia is completely content with her current life, living with her mom in a remodeled San Francisco firehouse. She doesn’t want to embrace her royal roots. That is, until her mom asks her to learn how to be a princess from her grandmother and then make her final decision at the Genovia Independence Day Ball.

From glamorous makeovers to waltz lessons, Mia experiences the best of royal life, and her existence changes overnight. Gone are the days of riding a scooter to school; Queen Clarisse has prepared a limousine quipped with her very own bodyguard. Fancy.

Throughout the film, a few individuals are anticipating Mia’s downfall including a baron and his baroness in line for the throne, along with popular Lana and her fellow cheerleaders. However, Mia realizes that with the support of her friends and staying true to herself, she can make her family and Genovia proud.

(Want to watch the movie before reading further? Check out the DVD here.)

Now that you know about the film, here are three important life lessons we can all learn from The Princess Diaries:

1. Learn to dress for the occasion.

“I love your eyebrows! We’ll call them Frida and Kahlo.” – Paolo.

Mia The Princess Diaries Makeover

While some girls would jump at the chance to be a princess, Mia is reluctant to do so. However, after learning that Genovia be without a ruler otherwise, she agrees to attend regular etiquette lessons with her grandmother in order to prepare for the upcoming festivities. Along with practicing proper dining manners, Mia is given a dramatic makeover to fit with royal standards.

Not many of us have our own royal hairdressers and stylists, but that doesn’t mean that our appearance has to suffer when it comes to dressing for specific occasions! Just remember to choose the appropriate outfit and wear it with confidence.

Heading to the opening night of your friend’s musical? Skip the ripped jeans (I know, we love them too), and rock a shift dress in a neutral color so you can pile on the accessories. Expecting to make an appearance at the Genovian Independence Day Ball? Go for that white ball gown with subtle floral accents.

Mia The Princess Diaries White Ball Gown

Okay, you’re probably not planning on wearing a ball gown anytime soon, but a girl can dream.

2. Keep your word.

If you make a promise, always stick to it.

In the movie, Mia tells Lilly that she’s a strong supporter of Lilly’s cable show, Shut Up and Listen, where her friend speaks out on social and environmental issues. However, Mia ditches out on meeting Lilly after the show to attend Josh Bryant’s beach party.

What seems like a dream shortly turns into a nightmare when the paparazzi arrive and Mia discovers that Josh publicly kisses her only for his few minutes of fame. Ouch.

Mia then attempts to mend her friendship with Lilly, and Lilly’s older brother Michael, by inviting them to the Genovian Independence Day Ball. While one is easy to win over, the latter takes a little bit more convincing (in the form of a pizza topped with M&M candies spelling out the word “sorry.”)

Princess Diaries Sorry Pizza

So take this as the cautionary tale it is. Following through with our commitments is vital for maintaining healthy relationships. If you ever find yourself having to cancel plans or backing out on an opportunity, learn from it. In the future, be realistic and don’t over-commit. 

The same goes for internships, jobs, and the like. Don’t commit to something unless you’re sure you can follow through. This will gain you respect in the workplace and give you a reputation as a reliable, dependable person.

The old business adage that it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver applies here. Be a woman of your word and you’ll gain respect.

3. Stay calm, cool, and collected.

“Mia, you’re such a freak!” – Lana

“Yeah, I am, but you know what? Someday I might just grow out of that, but you will never stop being a jerk.” – Mia

Lana Got Coned_The Princess Diaries

One of the most notable scenes in the film is when Mia single-handedly defends her friend Jeremiah after witnessing him being mocked by Lana. Her strategy? Smear an ice cream cone onto Lana’s cheerleading uniform. 

It’s a much needed act by Mia – after all, Lana was the one behind the scandalous photo of Mia at the beach and frequently teases her at school. It’s impossible not to cheer her on!

While we’re all for Mia sticking up for her friend, in real life, assaulting someone with a frozen dessert will cause more problems than it solves. So you have to learn to stick up for yourself, without losing your cool.

As young women in the world, we’re all going to encounter individuals that frankly aren’t our cup of tea. But remember to stay smart, even when you want to act on your emotions. According to Psychology Today, “When a situation is emotionally charged, it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment.” So, in this case, let Mia show you what not to do

When you encounter a conflict with someone, take a deep breath, trust your instincts, and stick up for yourself in a productive, facts-based manner. Then pat yourself on the back for confronting an uncomfortable circumstance. You’ve got this!  


Do you have any tips on staying classy in any situation? What movies are you wanting to watch? Start the conversation – comment below!

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