A few weeks ago, my daughter came up to me and said that someone told her that Moana is more courageous than Mulan, because she fought gods while Mulan only had to fight humans. The reason my daughter came to me, is that I have always told her that I don’t like any Disney princesses, except for Mulan, and since my daughter hadn’t watched the movie, she wanted to know my opinion about it. I told her to watch Mulan and decide for herself. It is not always easy to make children understand how everyone has different likes and dislikes.
As we were travelling to Europe the very next week, my daughter took advantage of the opportunity, and managed to catch Mulan on the airline entertainment system. She was impressed, even if it had old-fashioned animation. The reason I’m recounting all this is that while in Europe, we had plans to visit the land of Disney for the first time in our lives.
Visiting Disneyland was as much fun as anyone can imagine. The children wanted to go on every ride and see everything. Everything that is, except Fantasy Land. My husband, thinking that our 9-year-old daughter would want to see something of it, insisted that we all see it at least. To appease him, we even waited in a long line to go on the most boring ride of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. That was when I realized how different, yet similar my daughter and I are.
While she wanted to try on all the tiaras and crowns in the souvenir shops, she was also the first one to want a picture with King Arthur’s sword! While she thinks that glitter solves all problems, she also thinks that princesses are lame! In that, my daughter is just like me.
Since my childhood, I have always been more fascinated with the villains than the heroines of fairy tales. If these fairy tales happened to be in the form of Disney animated movies, then I definitely wanted to be the villain! Take Snow White, for example. WHo would you rather be: a resourceful woman with her own opinions and a definite plan for life, or a confused girl who cooks and cleans for strange men, takes food from strangers, and waits for someone to come and save her from choking? I would rather be the former.
When I first read Cinderella, I thought she was stupid. I was too young, and had no idea what was wrong with her actions, yet I didn’t like her one bit. I did, however, have the most questions about the stepmother. All other tales like Beauty And The Beast, Snow White And Rose Red, The Frog Prince, and even Goldilocks were rejected by my younger self because they all sounded stupid!
This is not a rant about how fairy tale heroines need to save themselves, and not wait for a hero. I love heroes, and I love romances. I just love well-developed characters more. I want to see a well-rounded personality for the heroine rather than the one-dimensional one that we get to see. There is nothing wrong with waiting for a hero to save you, you just have to do something yourself in the meanwhile!
In recent years, Disney has tried to turn the traditional fairy tale around, but since they were the ones to make it so shallow in the first place, I would say it was their duty to change things!
I’m still more likely to gravitate towards the Wicked Queen, or Maleficient, or Scar, simply because they seem to have so many shades to their personality. We need heroes and heroines with more shades of grey, and less perfection, not because of anything else, but just to make fairy tales more interesting!