With so many topics to choose from- Donald Trump running for President (love it. Gasp, I said it), the senseless and cowardly slaughter of Cecil the Lion (heartsick over it), Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts (conflicted about it), ISIS (violently hate it), Horrible Hillary(nuff said), and so many more mind melting news stories, I’ve decided to tackle this little nugget I recently read about The Little Mermaid.
Yes, you read that right: The Little Mermaid.
See, I read a blog post the other day about a mom’s decision to not let her daughter watch that and several other Disney movies because of the message they send to girls. Truthfully, I rolled my eyes initially and thought, “Give me a fucking break, lady.” I mean, I grew up on Disney movies, along with the ever violent Looney Tunes, and I’m fine..right?! Shut up, everyone who knows me 😉
Yet, I was curious enough to see what her big fuss was about. Well, I could easily guess; Disney movies are not all that subtle in their messages, really. Under the pretty colors and lovely tunes, it’s all kinds of fucked up. Everyone knows that, right?!
Indeed, she made all the points I thought she would, however, it was specifically her problem with The Little Mermaid that got me. It was so well stated that I had to pause for a moment. A three day moment so I could think about the message of that beloved (to me) movie.
What she said, in a nutshell & poorly paraphrased (and dumbed down): Ariel gives up her voice, her beautiful, strong voice, just for a good looking dude she only saw for a hot minute. Then, she has to use solely her good looks to ‘win’ his love. I know (and knew all their years ago, too) how absurd concept was. But I didn’t overthink, I just sang along to those catchy tunes.
This lady gave it a LOT of thought, as mom’s of today are wont to do. Wait: that’s not the snarky criticism it appears to be. It’s never wrong to assess the way we are raising our children! Anyhow, she went on to remind us women of how important our voice is, literally and figuratively, and how severely that particular movie undermines every message of self respect, pride, and dignity we try to raise our daughters to have. Best message ever.
Now, I have always loved The Little Mermaid. Seriously, it is my favorite of all Disney movies. So this was a bummer. Total buzz kill, a major ball deflater, so on so forth. I can’t look at it the same now, not without seeing the true messages that sing louder than Ariel’s ‘Ahhhhahhhhhaaa, aaaahaaaaaa…’.
But (c’mon, you know there’s always a ‘but’): I don’t regret letting my daughters watch The Little Mermaid, or any other Disney movie. All three hundred and seventy million times over that we replayed them on the VCR (yes, it was THAT long ago, hush).
I’ll explain. First and foremost, I respect any parent who has the fortitude to persevere in that battle. The one where you are that parent who has to say at the start of a play date/sleepover ‘We don’t allow those movies in our home, so please refrain from watching them while my daughter is at your house.” Or patiently explain that your daughter doesn’t know who Belle, Ariel or Cinderella is when their friends want to play Princess party. You are strong, man.
Me? Not so much. I’d rather (and always did) give a conditional ‘yes’. The condition being this: educated viewing. Ariel serves as a great example of what not to do, how not to be. Why not use it as a learning moment?! You get to kill two birds with one stone: she gets to be ‘in the loop’ with her peers, you get a teaching moment. Winners all around! After all, this is our true parental goal isn’t it? To raise thinking, insightful little humans who can use rationale, consider cause and effect, and understand consequence.
So my long winded point is this: Take it from a Dinosaur Mom, one who’s been there, worried about this, that and the other thing, and tried to do everything ‘right’: Relax. Don’t overthink it, Modern Moms. YOU are their first and foremost example of what it means to be a woman. You know so much more than every generation before you, truly, you do. One thing holds true of every single generation, though: The next will look to you first for guidance and role modeling. Ariel will not fuck them up and turn them into passive little doormats that give up their identity for the sake of a guy… if you’re there to point out and correct the fault in that subliminal message.
Sadly, and no matter what you teach her, she will probably do it at least once, I must say. She will ‘love’ at least one jerk, a boy you will hate and think murderous thoughts towards. BUT (yup, there’s the but) you will be there to redirect her. To point out how strong she is. To tell her you’ve been there, too, and like you she’ll learn to be grateful for heartache, because now she knows what the frogs look and sound like, and she will in turn, more easily recognize a prince when one comes around (thank you, Walt Disney for the analogy). From you, she will know that a prince doesn’t swoop in and save the day; he listens to her dreams, respects her opinions, values her time, sees her inner beauty, cherishes her love. You will teach her that by just merely being female is not just cause for deserving such a man, but instead being a woman who embodies those very same traits is what makes her deserving. You will teach her to trust her instincts & her intuition. Lastly, you will teach her to know her worth. She will stumble, and fall. Just like you did, and she will get up every damn time and try again.
To that modern blogging mom, honey you are totally right in everything you said about that movie. No argument here. Just consider this, and do what you will: Much like if we were to deny or ignore history, we can learn nothing from that which we are unaware of. Don’t over shelter your daughters, Modern Moms, just talk to them. Teach them, and don’t underestimate their capacity for understanding and absorption of your values. You keep telling them, from 3, to 13, to 39 and every age in between. They are listening.