Disney and their princesses are sometimes a hot-button topic.
Feminists have said it’s not healthy to teach little girls that marriage is the Be-All, End-All. There have been people upset with cultural appropriation, the lack of body diversity, the lack of any diversity, and so many more issues.
I’m not here to talk about any of that! Those topics are for another person, another company, another time.
What I am here to talk about is the lessons that those princesses can teach.
I’m only going through my personal favorites, so please don’t be offended that I don’t include your favorite princess.
Ariel wanted to learn about something so badly, she literally risked everything for more knowledge.
She probably should have gone about it in a different way, but her dad was pretty authoritarian so I get it. She was SO curious and full of questions. She did everything she could to learn about humans.
Her sources were definitely questionable (It’s ok, we’ve all used Wikipedia at one point or another) and her methods weren’t strong, but she Fought to learn.
Mulan loved her father so much that she risked everything so he would be able to stay with his family.
She knew she could get killed, both by her enemy and by her own army if she were found out. But her devotion to her family paid off. She found herself in that army, discovered a way to help not only her father but the whole country by thinking out of the box.
Belle was also always searching for knowledge, and she fought for so much!
She broke stereotypes, she was the unicorn in the field of donkeys. She stood up to two different beasts (Gaston and Beast) and won-even though they were bigger and badder than her. She protected her father, her kind heart won over Beast and she led by example.
Moana was concerned for her whole village. She tried hard to fit in, but always felt the call of the ocean.
She felt like she had more to do than just be chief. She learned how to sail, fought pirates, befriended a selfish demi-god, and eventually made it past Teka only to find that all her effort was apparently for nothing, that Tefiti was gone!
But she was able to see through the smoke, to see the truth behind the mask of Teka and restore the world to balance. She used her intense need to find where she belonged and her quiet, kind heart to find the truth.
Elsa also didn’t know her place, had this feeling calling to her that she was different and that she needed to figure out where she belonged.
My favorite part of any Disney song to date is after the transformation in the song “Show Yourself”. She sings “I am Found! Show yourself, step into your power! Grow yourself into something new! YOU are the one you’ve been waiting for!”
Anna has a similar moment when she feels totally alone, but knows that all she can do is take one step at a time.
The whole movie of Frozen 2 is about transformation and finding who you are, independent and interdependently of those around you. It’s about finding your own inner power and using that to make the world a better place. (I love the movie, if you couldn’t tell)
Tiana was full of faith and hope, but knew that no matter how much she wished on stars, if she wanted her dreams to come true she’d have to work really hard.
Her whole story is so deeply meaningful to me.
She had to rely on herself most of the time, but she also had to learn to rely on those around her. She had to come up with creative solutions to her problem, and eventually had to accept that reality was a little different than what she’d imagined. And once she accepted that, her reality shifted, her perception shifted-and the end result was so much better than the one she initially hoped and wished and worked for.
One of the most powerful messages and themes through most of these, my favorite Disney princesses, is that they don’t fit into the mold they’re expected to.
They resonate with me because I’ve always had a hard time knowing my true place.
I’m sure most of us feel that way at some point.
Another theme is a thirst for knowledge and learning and improvement. We all have to face transformations in our own selves. We all have times when we are in the dark, facing grief and tragedy.
We have times that we don’t know what’s going to happen, where we’re going to go, or what we can possibly do to get out of the dark. But they all find moments of quiet where they reach into themselves and find the answers and the strength to pull themselves out.
My favorite theme is that they all have their own power to change the world. Each of us has this light within. The world at large may not be changed in some drastic moment like in Moana, but maybe we change someone’s heart (King Triton) or we create our own joy like Tiana.
Your kids can be empowered by these messages.
So that if they’re having a dark moment, or if they don’t know their place, we can be there to help lift them-to give them that moment of clarity and peace.
Maybe even help empower them to change their world. Or if they’re in a great and powerful moment in their lives, that we can support them as they “step into their power”.
And the least we can do is make their birthday party a magical event!
PS, please don’t sue me Disney!!