And they lived happily ever after.
Isn’t that line all too familiar? Most girls grew up reading fairytale books or watching cartoons with a notion that one day, a Prince Charming riding in a splendid white horse will come and save her. For far too long, I have been wondering what that girl needs saving from. Her delusions? For the record, I am also a Disney fan and have dreamed of becoming a princess at one point in my life but I guess these movies were giving not so good messages especially to the little ones.
Tale as old as time, the stories of the early Disney princesses heavily rely on finding a man. They have depicted these princesses as girls who are demure and who can only accomplish things if helped only. The portrayal of love in these films also gives a very challenging point of view as it denotes the classic boy-meets-girl scenario and voila, they both lived happily ever after which is very unrealistic considering the fact that it is not how relationships really work.
That being said, waiting for Prince Charming to come along is only a distraction. Let’s make a trip to the past and evaluate why.
Who could ever forget the fairest one of all? Snow White. We all knew her story on how she ran into the forest when her evil stepmother hired someone to kill her and how she befriended seven dwarves. Not to mention the Prince who kissed her while she fell into a deep sleep after eating a poisoned apple. Growing up, I thought that it was kind of romantic to wake up with a Prince kissing you. But I guess it’s true that you’ll have a different perspective in life when you grow up and have some maturity in you.
There are just some questions that keep on lingering in my mind.
Why did she have to run away from her evil stepmother? Why didn’t she confront her instead? She became a damsel in distress.
How can she completely trust seven strangers and live with them? And for the love of heavens, they are all men. It does not really matter even if they are dwarves but still, they are men whom she did not even know. In my case, I wouldn’t be living under one roof with a bunch of men knowing that I’m the only woman in there. Sure, they can be friendly to me but I wouldn’t want to put myself in a risky position. A man’s strength is different from a woman’s. Let alone the strength of seven men.
Here comes another part, the handsome Prince Charming. Who goes around kissing a girl he doesn’t even know? That’s pretty messed up, though. Plus, she doesn’t even know his name.
Then here comes Cinderella. Ah, that pretty girl who is forced to work in her own home by her evil stepmother and two stepsisters. Being a daydreamer, she has faith that someday, her dreams will come true. There is nothing completely wrong about that. The issue in this is just that, girls should know when to stand up for their rights and not be pushed to helplessness. Being kind is one thing but don’t let anyone disrespect you and rob you of your hopes and dreams.
Apart from it, why does she have to wait for a fairy godmother before she makes her dreams fulfilled? Why not act upon her goals and turn that “someday” into “today”? We are the ones who hold the future in our hands and we should not let anybody dictate what we will become.
The girl who did nothing but sleep – Aurora, another damsel in distress. Reminiscing about Sleeping Beauty’s story, it kind of reminded me of the importance of listening to the advice of those who are older than us for they knew better. She was advised not to go near any spinning wheel or she would die but she disobeyed and followed her curiosity instead. As the famous quote says, curiosity killed the cat. And again, there goes Prince Phillip kissing around someone asleep he has seen only for the first time! Do boys really do this kind of stuff? Disney may have built the characters of its princes as “rescuers or saviors” but they also painted a bad image of men in there.
Belle from Beauty and the Beast, may actually be a little bit impressive though. She doesn’t really care about romance at first – ignoring Gaston’s pursuance of her. Her love for books is astonishing and she’s brave enough to go rescue her dad and take his place instead. Belle did not get intimidated too with the Beast. She showed him that there is much more than being just a girl. However, we cannot deny the fact that she fell in love with an abusive and unstable man. Good for her, she managed to tame him.
Let’s not forget our little mermaid, though – Ariel. I actually admire her will to achieve her dreams and her bravery of making into terms that there is so much more to life than just being at the sea. She can be ambitious but hey, she gave up her voice just to get her prince! How messed up is that?
To further support my argument, most Disney princesses are really young. Most of them are probably in their teenage years and their storylines revolved around finding a prince and falling in love. But hey, these girls are supposed to be in school.
Nonetheless, there has been progress in the newer Disney princesses such as Merida, Moana and Elsa as their narratives don’t revolve in romance at all. We salute these princesses who have independent spirits and have the courage to find their journey to self-discovery,
Now, what do you need to do instead?
Not all princesses are depicted as girls who need saving from. You can be passionate like Rapunzel and Ariel or learn how to defend yourself like what Mulan did.
Just like Pocahontas, you can choose your family and friends over some toxic man or you can educate yourself more just like Belle. Fight for your freedom and rights and do not be afraid to speak your mind like Jasmine or follow your dreams and goals like Tiana.
Women are worthy of their own narrative but we must come to terms that there is so much more to life than just waiting for a boy to fall in love with. Go pursue the woman you want to be and if romance comes along the way, then you’re in for a treat.