Since this month’s theme is “Fairytales,” I’ve decided to reflect on the advice and life lessons behind some of my favorite childhood fairytales. To start, let’s consider some of Walt Disney’s classics.
The Little Mermaid
Ariel wishes to be a human when she is only a mermaid, she loves a man against her father’s will, she disobeys her father for true love, and she even willingly gives up her own voice to be able to see her love.
Cinderella lost her father and is now under the watch of her step-mother and her step-sisters. Instead of taking Cinderella in like a child, the step-mother treats her like a maid. Cinderella is forced to live in an attic, spending her days doing chores and nothing else. Even after her magnificent night at the ball (all because of her Fairy Godmother, of course), she is humble and does not throw herself at the prince. She doesn’t look for him, either, but she knows she loves him.
Princess Jasmine falls in love with a street rat, Aladdin. Aladdin disguises himself as a prince by using three wishes from a genie. Once she finds out he is not a prince, she is upset that he lied. She later realizes that she still loves him, though, because him being a prince is not the reason she feel in love with him in the first place.
Mulan is a brave girl who wants to defend her country and make her father proud. In order to save her injured father from being forced to fight, she dresses like a male and joins the army in his place. This quickly goes down hill as she falls in love with an officer in the army and her true identity is eventually revealed. However, she still ends up saving all of China and getting the man she loves.
What do all of these and many more fairytales like them have in common, you may ask? Well, they teach girls that you do not have to be perfect. Cinderella teaches us to work hard even when we have nothing to work for. You may lose a loved one and have a rocky past, but things get better.
Just because you have a rough past or get treated poorly does not mean that you don’t deserve to be treated like a princess. Every girl deserves to be treated with respect. Also, you may have to go against your parents or your culture or even today’s society in order to stand up for what you believe in, just as Pocahontas went against her father and Mulan went against her country’s culture.
I think the new Disney princess movie, Frozen, has had the best lesson of all the movies so far. Anna and Elsa have a rocky past, similar to Cinderella, as both of their parents die in the beginning of the movie. However, Frozen differs from movies like The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty since Anna and Elsa don’t have men saving them. It also steers away from most of Disney’s previous fairytales in that Elsa clearly states to Anna that it is impossible to fall in love with a man you just met and barely know; it is simply unrealistic. Anna disagrees, but she soon realizes that her sister is right when Hans admits that he doesn’t love her and only wants a crown and a kingdom. In the end, Anna has to choose between saving herself and letting Hans kills Elsa or saving her sister and dying herself. She chooses to save her sister, and her heart freezes. However, this is an act of self-sacrifice, an act of true love; so, in the end, Anna saves herself and her sister — not with a man, but with the love for her sister.
There are so many other life lessons that you can learn from fairytales. Here are brief examples of a few more:
Snow White: Be kind, even when others are not
Brave: Be brave (the title does it justice)
Beauty and the Beast: Show mercy and compassion
The Princess and the Frog: Believe in yourself and your dreams
Pocahontas: Stand up for what is right
Tangled: It’s okay to be afraid
Now, my final question: Is “happily ever after” really “once upon a time”? I don’t think so. If you find a man that treats you with respect, who loves you unconditionally, and who is loyal, compassionate, smart, and perfect just for you, then you too can have your “happily ever after.”
Never settle for less than you deserve, and never give up hope.