The 25th anniversary of The Little Mermaid reminds us of Ariel’s poor choices and the discussion we should have with our daughters about a few of this Disney princess’ misguided decisions.
Love at first sight
The concept of love at first sight in fairy tales has long been a controversial one. This is a dangerous world we live in, and good guys need to be measured in deed rather than image more than ever. The idea that Ariel fell in love with Prince Eric after ogling him from afar, and the measures that she was willing to take to be with him, is incredibly misguided.
Ignoring the advice of a good friend
Sebastian tries to warn Ariel of becoming human, and to be happy with what she has. When he gives her sound advice like, “The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake — you dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake,” Ariel summarily dismisses him. We should try to heed the advice of our good friends, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Talking to strangers
Not talking to strangers is literally “Day One” stuff — we learn about it from our mothers before we even head to preschool. Ariel’s decision to listen to two creepy eels and a terrifying woman with a bad temper demonstrates a complete lack of sound decision-making.
Lack of positive self-image
One of the most damning examples Ariel sets is, as an extremely young woman who is so dissatisfied with herself, she’s willing to trade her greatest asset — her voice — for that which she can’t change on her own (a pair of legs). As the equivalent of early Disney plastic surgery, this is a dangerous message about self-image issues for our daughters. Ariel traded her voice for legs, and now incredibly young women can trade cash for plastic surgery to keep up with trends being set by celebrities such as the Kardashians — instead of embracing their own physical and mental gifts.
Giving it all up for a guy
Perhaps the poorest example Ariel sets is her choice to give up everything — her mermaid physique, her family, her home — to be with a guy. We’re all for the sacrifice of real love and all that comes with it, but where are Prince Eric’s concessions? The guy just showed up looking good in a nice suit. In fact, what grandiose display of affection or character did Prince Eric exhibit that made us feel he was worthy of the hoops Ariel had to jump through to be with him? Our daughters need to know that being a prince (or having great wealth), being attractive and having a pulse are not things that we should base immense sacrifice and lifelong decisions on.