Let’s be honest, the majority of us have probably watched Disney movies in the past year. I know I have. There is something calming in the nostalgia that ensues from watching Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, or Mulan for what is probably close to the hundredth time. My iTunes library proudly includes songs from Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. However, as I think through the deeper implications of many of these beloved fairy tales, it makes me wonder if our generation has bought into a lie, a lie that is impeding us from becoming all we are capable of because we are held back by childhood fantasies of what life and dating should be like.
The Little Mermaid teaches us that if we change the way we look and give up the thing we treasure most in ourselves, we will get the guy. What kind of a message is that sending to little girls? We have all felt like we don’t fit in, don’t belong, aren’t good enough. But this story that so many girls (many of whom are now women) love, has essentially taught us that we are not good enough as we are. However, if we change, then we can get the guy.
I love Beauty and the Beast. Belle has always been my favorite princess, mostly because she was the only one with brown hair. However, this Disney classic holds a similar message, just in the reverse. It insinuates that we can change other people, specifically the men in our lives. Personal experience has shown me that this is one of the biggest lies I have ever believed. Going into a dating relationship knowing there are things you cannot stand about someone, but believing you can change them, is only setting yourself up for disappointment and bitterness.
And then there is Aurora, or Sleeping Beauty, whose valiant prince saved her from eternal slumber. What is so wrong about that? Well nothing on the surface, but it tends to paint of picture that women are fragile and need saving. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I certainly don’t want anyone “saving” me. Relationships should be a partnership, and an equal one at that. Not simply the woman being rescued by her man.
The Disney Princesses are a staple in the childhood of many American girls, and that is not a bad thing. There are definitely stories of strength(Tangled), bravery(Mulan), and sacrifice(Beauty and the Beast). Nonetheless, they also can imbed in young girls’ minds themes that can go on to affect their view of what a relationship is supposed to look like for the rest of their lives. There is nothing wrong with wanting a fairytale. However, we should be content in who we are as women, and then let the fairytale come to us, not try and change ourselves or others and chase after it or wait for someone to come “save” us.