Life Lessons From Mulan

Feminism

Despite popular belief, feminism isn’t about man hating overly masculine bra burners who want men to be wiped off of the earth. The real definition of feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”. Radical, huh? A character who best exemplifies the real definition of a feminist is the Disney Princess, Mulan. Mulan is an extremely diverse movie full of characters and lines that transcend the Disney screen. Similar to Moana, Mulan is a Disney princess who is willing to be more than a pretty face. We are finally seeing the wholesome, brave, empowering, flawed, incredible women on the screen that reflect the women that we see in our every day lives. When’s the last time one of your friends ran away from town because she was prettier than a queen, or traded her voice to be with a man she had never spoken to? I shudder, and hope that the answer is never. Mulan showcases a strong female lead who always speaks up for what she believes in; she isn’t perfect but she always aspires to be better. The movie isn’t about the boy- shocker right? The romance is merely a bonus point. Which I am thankful for considering Shang is more or less a jerk the entire movie. He continuously tells her that she’s not good enough, degrades her and has a very questionable moral compass. Ahh, what a dreamboat. This is the guy were supposed to be swooning over? Pass. In the moment where Mulan is found out to be a women and not the man she was pretending to be she challenges Shang by asking him, “You said you trust Ping, why is Mulan any different?” Excellent question, is it because she doesn’t have a penis? I forgot that’s the hallmark of being a good person. Regardless of Shang, the movie features a strong female lead kicking butt and taking names- literally.

 

Identity

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all”. The Emperor of China says this to Mulan after she has rescued him and saved the entire country. NBD. Throughout the movie she is torn apart trying to figure out who she is. More than just teenage angst, ripped tights, dark eyeliner and Greenday. This chick really doesn’t know who she is. The classic song reflection highlights “if I were ever to be myself I would break my families heart”. Without inferring or getting too political is it too far to say this could be a commentary on gender identity? If not, it still reflects a girl too scared to explore and embrace who she is because she’s afraid she’ll disappoint the ones she loves. Figuring out who you are is more or less a game of trial and error, and always comes down to listening to your gut. You can feel it when something your doing is wrong, or right. Its always felt right to me to be outgoing and connect with other people, and its always felt wrong for me to hold my tongue- even though sometimes I probably should. At the beginning of the story we find Mulan struggling to find her way through matchmaking, and being the perfect daughter. Don’t even get me started on matchmaking- fitting the perfect mold, serving your husband. It makes my skin crawl. The point is, she is measuring herself up to a standard she doesn’t even believe in. When she redefines her standards for what it means to be a woman, and has the most badass transformation in all of Disney movies, she embraces a whole new side of herself. She realizes she is more than a delicate flower, destined to only be a wife. She is a leader, a fighter, a friend full of integrity, courage and love.

 

Self Love

Mulan is constantly being told that she isn’t good enough. First by the matchmaker, then by Sheng and the guys continuously throughout the movie, and most importantly by herself. Don’t get me wrong- she has every right to think she sucks, considering that’s what everyone is saying. You’re not pretty enough, you’re not brave enough, worthy enough, strong enough, wife enough. Hell, I would think that too. But, as the movie progresses she begins taking charge of her own life, her own identity and her own self love. She trusts herself to shoot the cannon into the mountain, risking her own life in the process. She risks her life for her father, and when given challenge after challenge during training, she falls and gets back up. She didn’t walk in as the best soldier, or as the most capable. She worked her butt off, often failing and rising stronger and stronger every time until we got to watch her retrieve the arrow. Best. Scene. Ever. My arm was more goose bumps then skin the first time I watched that clip. That scene shows us as women we can be our own badass warriors, get our own arrows, save our own day. Embracing all the strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are is life changing. Mulan helps us realize that the boundaries we create only exist in our mind, and when we push past them we are both invincible and loveable.