Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all. Many of us are familiar with the bedtime stories and animated features that littered our childhood. I, myself love Disney movies and animation in general, from Snow White to Mulan. But, as you grow up, the words that seemed to hide treasure and wonder slowly turn sour as you realise how they’ve shaped you or the hidden messages they send.
In this series I’m going to be exploring the ways Disney ruined us and I’m going to start with a beloved classic; The Little Mermaid.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of watching this movie, the synopsis is as follows. A mermaid falls in love with a human, a prince no less, and sells her voice to an evil witch for human legs. They strike a deal; should she manage to win the prince’s affection, she will remain human and get her voice back. Should she fail, the evil sea witch will keep her voice and enslave her for all time.
Obviously, she fails because the sea witch sabotaged her using the very voice she battered for her legs, there is a huge showdown and she leaves triumphant with her prince and her happily ever after.
Ariel (that’s the mermaid’s name) wants only one thing; to be where humans are and to be considered one of them. She is so desperate to fit in that she alters her physical state and gives up a part of her that is idiosyncratic and uniquely her. This represents the idea that to fit in and belong, you have to conform to the set standard and give up the parts you that make you stand out and give you your individuality. How often do we see young men and women body building or losing weight or adding appendages, in a bid to be desirable and fit in? More often than not, they achieve their goal and become carbon copies of celebrities or stereotypes essentially losing themselves and their identity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting in shape or body building if it builds a sense of self or creates a version of you, you are proud of. What I’m not a fan of is the belief that you are not enough unless you conform to a set standard for example that you need to be a yellow bone or thin to be considered beautiful.
Ariel eventually gets her prince but only as a human girl, which consolidates the idea that she had to change who she was in order to gain and maintain love. Now for all intents and purposes, I understand the biological necessity of this, but I ask, why didn’t her prince become a mermaid to get his princess? Why was the burden solely hers? This creates the illusion of burden of proof for women; you need to change in order to keep your man. Does he cheat? Then become more attractive for him. Is he abusive? Well, you must have provoked him. Akin to the misinformed belief that women who are skimpily dressed somehow ask for rape, this falsehood eliminates the male’s responsibility and their duty to change and compromise for their partners in relationships. If he leaves it’s because like Ariel you don’t have human legs or you’ve gained a few pounds or you’re not as outgoing as you used to be. Men need to take responsibility and realise that relationships are a two way street that require dual effort from both individuals.
The worst part of this story is the belief that in losing herself, Ariel somehow gained her love, and yet it is her singular irregularity that garnered his attention in the first place. Her prince fell in love with a mermaid and yet it is the very part of her she discards in order to keep him. Oh, the irony.
I could go on about the many loopholes this moral dilemma poses for example, Ariel completely escapes the consequences of her actions namely her deal with the sea witch, thereby encouraging bad decisions because “someone will bail you out,” but I won’t. Lol, this is still one of my favourite Disney movies and probably always will be, but I hope it’s clear that you are enough simply by being you. Grow your brand and become the best version of you, revelling in the majestic parts of you no one else can mimic. You are thing of beauty and anyone who would deem themselves worthy of your affection would need to love all of you, flaws and all.
This has been the Musings of a Whimsical mind. Catch you soon, with another Disney movie to slaughter🤗