This is going to have spoilers for Once at least through the first season...
To me it all has to do with how active the woman is in shaping her own destiny. Snow in Once? She DOES things. She isn't sitting there singing forlornly about her prince showing up someday. She takes control of her situation. Even in the scene with the Huntsman, when he's taking her to kill her, she fights back and runs first and then decides to face the situation head on. She offers to let the Huntsman kill her in order for there to be peace for her people. Facing your own death with chin held high isn't weak. Especially when it comes with forgiveness toward the person that has ordered your murder. And yeah, later on she wields weapons, infiltrates castles, and fights to take back her kingdom, which I much prefer to riding off into the sunset with that one guy that stalked her and freaked her out that one time.
In fact, Mary Margaret in Storybrooke tends to be a much more weak-willed character, which is a part of the negative impact of the curse. Regina even comments on it during an episode. It makes a nice contrast. And her flaws make her much better rounded, too. I don't like characters as much if they only hit one note.
Snow White in the animated movie just...I don't know how to best describe why I don't like her. To me there's a difference between being "pure-hearted" and being hopelessly naive and portrayed as somewhat helpless. Her stepmother treats her horribly, but she sits around waiting for someone to rescue her. The huntsman takes her out to kill her, and she 1) doesn't notice anything is weird and 2) stands there helpless until he feels sorry for her and orders her to run. She knows the Queen wants to kill her, but she lets in a crazy old woman (who is downright creepy looking) with apples anyways. I guess it could be worse - in the original fairytale she's fooled, what...3 times?...and still falls for it every time. Not the brightest of bulbs, or at least far too naive for her own good. A lot of it is the source material and a large part of it is the era it was made in. They weren't looking for amazingly deep storytelling and character development.
I guess it also irks me that women can't wield weapons without being called "masculine" or at least "unfeminine." The ability to protect oneself shouldn't be assigned to a gender. But I don't see the ability to wield a weapon as the defining characteristic as to whether a character is strong. Belle in Once never wields a weapon as far as I can recall, and spends a lot of her time cleaning as a "feminine" trait (boys should clean too, the slobs, but whatever), but she is a very strong character. She volunteers to save a kingdom, stands up to Rumplestiltskin despite his power, and tries to save the man she loves using whatever tools are available (aka True Love's Kiss).
That's me, though. Just one opinion.
And here's what we said.
I love this comment, because it has me thinking about both Snow Whites from perspectives I hadn't thought of before, and I think it's really exciting. I think, though, that you're going to have a really hard time changing our minds, but it sure could make for some fascinating discussion.
First, I want to say that you almost had me on the Prince being a stalker. At first glance, it definitely looks that way. But if you consider the scene where we first see him and Snow White meet, it might seem less that way.
He shows up right after Snow White sings, "I'm wishing for the one I love to find me today." She probably assumes that his appearance is her wish come true. Note that she doesn't sing for the one who loves her to find her, but for the one /she loves/ to find her. So for her wish to truly be granted, he would have to be somebody she herself genuinely likes, and not some guy that has feelings for her but that she can't stand. Still, her blind faith in the wishing well's power could be a cause for concern.
On the other hand, the fact that she says "the one I love" could also be an indication that she already has someone in mind. I can't remember a single piece of evidence in the movie to indicate that they had not met before--maybe once upon a dream, but more likely at some royal ball that Snow White's father held when he was still alive. So they met and hit it off, and being the girly girl that she is, she wished to see him again.
But if she knew him, you might ask, why did she run away when she saw him? She was dressed in rags and disheveled from cleaning the entire castle, and the man of her dreams suddenly showed up. Would you want to stick around and let him look at you looking like that?
Also, he sings, "Now that I've found you..." Of course, there are a ton of ways to interpret this, but one of them is that they met at a ball and hit it off, and he wanted to see her again. He would have had a hard time finding her, what with her stepmother being her stepmother. And maybe the hypothetical ball they met at wasn't held by her father, but by a neighboring kingdom that invited her father.
And now I have to say, for I feel like about the millionth time, animated Snow White did not just sit around waiting forlornly for her prince to come. Sheesh, you sing one song about how, "It would be so nice if..." and you get labeled for generations. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find her acting forlorn in any way, too. She has a song about how you can overcome anything with a smile (and a song), after all. (On the other hand, Once Upon A Time's Snow White did spend time pining for the prince. Understandable under the circumstances (much harsher than when animated Snow White was away from her prince), but then she ran away from it all by drinking the forgetfulness potion, which seemed to us cowardly and showed a complete lack of trust in the wonderful support group she had in the dwarfs. Then again, we always liked Momiji.)
Anyway, she DID take control of her situation. She asked the animals for help first (a sign of good leadership--ask the opinions of the people who know what's what, then make a decision and own it), and she asked the dwarfs' permission to stay in the home (as any considerate person would), but after that she was owning the joint. The dwarfs did what she said or they went without food.
I wholeheartedly agree, like %1000, that facing death with your chin held high is not weak, but that scene in Once Upon A Time really irked me. I mean, I love the idea of forgiveness and everything, but something in her delivery just made it sound so...arrogant, or something. Like, "Just so you know, I AM the better person." And if that Snow White really believed she ruined Regina's life (and she confessed as much to...I guess his name everywhere is David), shouldn't she have also apologized for that? Or maybe she did and I'm forgetting. (Athena says she thinks there was an apology.) I admit I tend to be a little harsher on this Snow White after the unfavorable impression we got of her from the first episode. (You can read about that here.)
We actually might have liked Mary Margaret if we weren't so constantly annoyed with her Enchanted Forest counterpart. Well...until she had that one-night stand. Then we were done with her. We didn't really see much contrast in strength of will between the two different versions of the character, because we felt like this Snow White just kept on making horrible decisions, which we tend to attribute to weak-willedness.
I think we've already covered that Snow White doesn't just sit around, but it's true she didn't really do anything to get away from her stepmother, except in the escapist sense of daydreaming. Going back to who Snow White may or may not have known before the movie started, I think it's likely that the huntsman, who probably also served her father, was someone she knew and trusted (all the more reason the wicked queen would choose him for this job). And when someone you know and trust suddenly pulls a knife on you, it seems reasonable that your first reaction would be like, "Wait, what's going on? I don't understand! This doesn't compute!" and you'd have a deer-in-the-headlights thing going on.
As for her trust of the old hag...well, yeah, she's definitely very naive. She did try not to let the woman in, but then she couldn't sit back and watch the injustice of her animal friends in harming an old woman who (as far as she could see) had done nothing wrong. Still, you're right, her boundless faith in mankind could be seen as a flaw.
As far as women with weapons are concerned, we're usually pretty cool with it. If a woman is a fighter type, that's just who she is. On the other hand, it drives me up the wall when a show seems to be saying, "See how progressive we are? We have women who can fight!" Part of that may be that I'm a girl, and I don't like fighting, and I don't like this idea that I'm weak because I don't want to fight.
We agree that Belle is a strong character in the show, as she is one of the few characters who could consistently make good decisions.
Okay, so most of our thing defends Disney's Snow White in reference to the points brought up in the first comment, without a whole lot of detail on why we think she's strong. For that, we would like to refer you to this post.
I'll come back tomorrow and update with our gratitude list.
EDIT: Gratitude list! Today I'm thankful for getting to eat lots of pancakes, being informed that someone thinks we're cute, getting to eat Baskin Robbins ice cream cake, getting to watch more of The Weekenders, and getting to take home the leftovers.