Thank you Pixar, thank you, thank you, thank you for finally introducing us to a real princess. A flawed, sometimes selfish, prideful tomboy of a girl in Brave. She sounds like a real prize, I know, but being a Disney movie, the princess in question, Merida, learns a lesson and it's a good one. It certainly translates to real life a little easier than, say, Cinderella or Snow White ("be really sweet and kind, girls, and your prince, or at least his footman, will come and sweep you away!).
Brave is essentially about the strained relationship between Merida and her mother, Elinor. As a daughter and a mother to daughters, I can really appreciate the misunderstandings between Merida and her mother. Elinor is trying to instil in Merida a love and sense of deep responsibility for their kingdom, culminating in the act of marrying the oldest son of a neighboring clan. Merida fights this tooth and nail and seeks a way out of her fate.
Merida's selfishness and Elinor's pride make it impossible for them to see eachother's point of view and results in the expected fairytale movie chaos. I loved how the antagonist of this movie wasn't some mean old stepmother or a witch, but Merida and Elinor, themselves. They had to work out their problems and come to a resolution. There isn't a prince in Brave, and all the men are actually pretty ridiculous caricatures, but it's nice to not have a romantic angle. I know. I am so selling this right now. Don't worry, it isn't a boring movie at all. I am not going to give anything else away other than to say this is a princess to be proud of.
Not that the other fairytale princesses, Disney or otherwise, are bad. It may be hard for our inner (or outer) feminist to embrace the princesses, but I'm going to argue there is something teachable in all the princesses personalities. Whether or not it outweighs the negatives is up to you, but no matter how you see it, there are worthy lessons in all the princess stories.
Snow White - The Fairest Princess is consummate home-maker, to be sure. She is sweet and loving, dwarves and forest animals love her, even if other women are deathly jealous of her good looks. She is kind to animals and keeps a mean house. Sufficie it to say that she is the princess I relate to the least.
Sleeping Beauty - As princesses go, she is a tough one. Chick fell asleep and literally waited for her prince to come. Nevermind that Sleeping Beauty has always been my favourite movie. It's cuz of those spunky fairies, I swear! Let's just skip her and pretend this never happened.
Little Mermaid - She is adventurous and willing to take risks to be happy. Maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to go to a Sea Witch to make that happen, but thankfully there isn't a sea witch in my 'hood to tempt my girls. (I am talking about the Disney version. HCA's version I'd like to shy my kids away from for obvious reasons.)
Cinderella - Alright, so she was forced to be a slave in her own home, but she tried to find happiness anyway. She tried to look for the bright side in a bad situation.
Jasmine - She is curious, questions the world and doesn't accept the status quo. Good qualities to have. Maybe she even got a college degree and did a semester abroad. She ultimately fell in love with a poor dude, but the cool thing about her is that titles and money don't matter to her.
Belle - Any girl who can read a book as intently as she did while walking through town and not trip over anything is hands-down my favourite. Oh yeah, she also managed to see beyond the really scary guy's temper and ox-like looks to fall in love with him. And she is dang wonderful to her dad.
Tiana - She works hard, is strong willed and patient. She shows that hard work and perseverance (and a prince of a husband) helps to achieve your goals.
Rapunzel - Strong willed, adventurous and willing to take risks. She is also pretty dang patient and self sufficient, seeing as she stayed in that tower for 18 years.
Mulan - She has no end of spunk, courage, and strength. She saved her country from the Huns, after all!
Movie they should have made:
Sacagawea instead of Pocahontas.
So, do you (will you) allow your daughters to watch princess movies? Why or why not?
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