I was watching Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea some time ago and was struck by a thought: if girls keep watching these movies unsupervised, might they think it okay to get married so young and to the first boy they meet?
As you might know, most of Disney’s classic Princess Movies have heroines who have just turned sixteen, fell in love for the first time, and eventually, married their prince or hero before the movie’s ending credits rolled in. Somehow, it makes the wrong impression that young girls are free to fall in love, and marry said love and the parents will be just as happy since their daughters have indeed married for love. Well, none can be farther from the truth.
Though Walt Disney had a grand idea of preserving lore and cleaning it up for the delicate mind of children, it is unfair to them to paint a world where animals talk back to you and that villains would give you enough leeway so you could escape in the last minute. We know the reality of children getting lured away by strangers only to end up mangled in some deserted gutter. It is not nice. There are no rainbows for those children, no happy endings. This is a harsh reality that we try to shield away our children from. Sometimes I think that maybe we are doing them a disservice from keeping all this from them.
I want my daughters to be safe as much as any other parent. but I don’t want them to be crippled once they get out in the world. I was just as helpless when i first made my own forays in the city alone when I was seventeen. I had no idea how to ask for directions, that look like a fool one time may mean that you will not be fooled the next time. I have led such a sheltered life before that I have no idea for the life of me how to interact with other people and was easily led astray as soon as I hear a well argued speech regardless if it all a bunch of baloney. It was with much help from my husband (then my boyfriend) that I have gotten through the first several years of living in the city. If not from what i had learned from him, I might have been eaten alive, jaded by the city life.
I don’t want my children to go through that. It is hard enough to be confused, harder still to be confused and pressured to make a decision that could alter the rest of your life. I want them to be prepared for what could be ahead of them: school, friends, teachers, growing up, changes in their bodies, boys, relationships, and the rest. Disney portrayed his heroines as helpless women, waiting for their princes to win against evil and finally take their hands. I want my daughters to be able to seize the day from themselves and win victorious in the end, master of themselves and their world. It is a huge undertaking that will take all of my and my husband’s years. I just hope that my daughters will learn from our mistakes and be the better for it.
If you were us, what would you do?