So I love Disney movies as much as the next person–(I mean, what kid didn’t grow up watching the classic Disney cartoons every other day?) And I think that in many ways, Disney movies generally taught decent principles when it came to things such as sacrifice, going for your dreams, and being brave.
However, after a closer look at some of these movies as an adult, I’m sure glad I didn’t let my infatuation with the brand ever get too deep.
Here’s what my life would have looked like had I only had Disney as my guide:
Little Mermaid Version:
At 16, when I become naturally reckless and free-spirited, I seek out ever more dangerous situations even after being expressly forbidden by my father (also the local law enforcement leader) to do so. I shun family responsibilities as well as chances to share my natural talent of singing and go in hot pursuit of an attractive stranger.
After falling in love with the most forbidden male possible (and realizing we could never be together if left to natural devices), I basically make a deal with the devil, thus sacrificing everything I was taught to hold dear. Despite having few other qualities to endear myself to the young man I’ve fallen for, he takes one look at me with the sun streaming behind my long hair, and he is instantly smitten with my beauty (although we have little else to talk about).
Although perilous obstacles come between us and threaten to rip our baby love apart, my father, in the end, “sees the light” after viewing my “deep and abiding love” for my heroic boyfriend, and he gives us his blessing for our marriage.
I am still sixteen.
At fifteen-almost-sixteen, my greatest ambition is to explore the big, wide world by going to see a mysterious lights festival. (Granted, my whole childhood has been abnormally sheltered, so forgive me if my dreams don’t seem all that grand.) Although my personality has endearing qualities, my most precious trait is (obviously) my ridiculously long, blonde hair, which I brush for hours every day and which will prove to attract attention wherever I go.
One day, a young outlaw breaks into my home, and I do the smart thing and knock him out. Upon his coming to (and after realizing in the interim that he is charming, available, and much more “street smart” than I am), I make him a deal that if he takes me to fulfill my life’s wish, I’ll give him back the treasure he’s stolen, for which he was on the run in the first place. He agrees to go, and we make our way into the unknown world beyond, although my parental figure has expressly forbidden it.
After perilous obstacles almost rip us apart, I discover that my original parental figure was actually not my mother at all, and my newly-discovered birth parents give their happy blessing for me to seriously court my outlaw (and, of course, we end up married).
I am still sixteen.
(P.S. I seek out years and years of therapy to deal with the fact that the woman I’d called “mother” my whole life had manipulated me because of my hair and that I had a major hand in her eventual murder.)
***Edit: An astute reader pointed out to me that Rapunzel is actually 17/18 in the film, not 16. Thanks for the correction, Miquelle!
At sixteen, I live a life of privilege—I have been raised by the leader of the land, with all the education and material blessings that a life of power and prestige can offer, and I am beautiful beyond compare, but I am unhappy with my life and the restrictive rules set in place by my father. In direct disobedience to familial rules, I escape out into the most dangerous part of town, where I meet a charming, bare-chested young thief and his pet monkey.
Meanwhile, a much older man who has ambitions for the throne tries to woo me, but I have eyes only for my thief. After hearing of the (fake) execution of my beloved crush, I am disgusted by other suitors coming my way, including my thief dressed in prince’s clothing. (After all, anyone my father approves of can’t be the one for me!)
Eventually, my thief comes to me dressed as himself, and my father is so impressed by our love that he joyfully consents to our union.
I am still sixteen.
Sleeping Beauty Version
At 15-turning-16, I have lived what seems to be a quiet life, living with my three “aunts” in the forest. Unbeknownst to me, I am actually the only daughter of the leaders of the land and am betrothed to the politician-in-waiting of a nearby town. On my 16th birthday, my beautiful singing voice captures the heart of a handsome young stranger who is galloping through the forest. After he sings and dances with me through the afternoon, I fall madly in love, and I know that only he can be my true mate in life.
My handsome love interest promptly goes home to tell his parents that he doesn’t care who he is betrothed to—he will marry the stranger he was singing with that afternoon, despite their warnings and beggings for him to consider the ramifications.
The very powers of hell rise up to get in the way of our true love, but even though I fall tragically into a coma, I am so beautiful in sleep that my beloved comes to find me and just has to give me a kiss as he sees me looking picture-perfect in my coffin-like shrine. Upon his kissing me, I magically wake up from my coma, and to the great delight of everyone involved (all four parents included), my love and I are married forever. (Conveniently enough, he happened to be the guy my parents chose for me all along. Whoops!)
I am still sixteen.
Any young girl’s life to-do list should include the following:
*be born to powerful parents (preferably a king, or at the very least a sultan)
*be uncommonly pretty
*whatever rules your parents (real or otherwise) have set up for you, completely disobey them by doing the exact opposite of what they’ve taught you
*go for the most forbidden male possible: the thief, the outlaw, the poor guy, etc.
*fall in love instantly with this forbidden male (and because you are so beautiful, he will of course do the same)
*successfully maneuver yourself through various obstacles that almost always involve life-or-death situations and the devil himself
*get engaged quickly and (ideally) marry at sixteen (your parents will, of course, come to their senses and consent to it after seeing how deep and abiding your love is)
What have you learned from Disney? Any movie plot lines that should be added to the list?
(P.S. If you found this entertaining, feel free to share it!)