When I was growing up, my mother always bought me the Disney movies. I loved watching Cinderella and Lady and the Tramp. There weren’t as many Disney princess movies as there are now, but the ones I had, Cinderella, Snow White and The Little Mermaid, were just fine with me. I loved them! So it comes as no surprise to anyone that my 22 month old daughter has all of the princess movies and can name all of the characters.
When you are young, you don’t really give movies too much thought. Well, at least I didn’t. Now as a mother, I am looking at these movies in a whole different way.
My daughter was watching The Little Mermaid. Usually I try to sit with her while she is watching because I enjoy them as much as she does (maybe more!) For those of you who have not been sucked into the Disney vortex, The Little Mermaid, Ariel, lives in the sea with her father and sisters. Don’t even get me started about why she doesn’t have a mother. That will be a whole other article (thank you Disney writers that obviously have mommy issues.) She is obsessed with the “human” world and falls in love with a “human.” Or as her father calls them “barbarians” and “fish-eaters.”
So here is where my issues come in. Ariel falls so madly in love with this “human” that she forsakes her entire family and being a mermaid to “live happily ever after” with this “human.” WHAT?
I am all for being in love… but at the cost of your entire identity and family? I have never been the type of girl to meet a guy and take on his identity. By this I mean taking up his activities, doing only things that he likes to do and getting so involved with his family that I forget mine. I know many women who do this. It is great to share interests, but don’t forget the ones that you had before you met this other person.
So is The Little Mermaid really the role model that I want for my daughter? Probably not. I mean for crying out loud she got turned into a human just to be with a man! Now I realize that in the Disney movies they usually do live happily ever after, but what if they don’t? Would she then want to turn back into a mermaid? Would her family accept her after she turned against them to become human? And what if there are children involved? How would the children visit their underwater relatives? Silly, I know. But you get my point.
I want my daughter to learn that just because she is one half of a couple, doesn’t mean that she has to forget who she is. She needs to still do the things that she loves and enjoys whether she continues to enjoy them by herself or with her significant other.
When she gets old enough, I will explain all of this to her. But for right now, I will just enjoy how excited she gets when she sees a princess and let her enjoy these movies on the child level that they were meant to be enjoyed. And I will try to stop seeing them from the cynical mother point of view.