|Image credit koiart71 on Flickr|
Frankly, I despise The Little Mermaid. The songs are catchy, the animation is good, I love Sebastian the crab, but I think Ariel is an aggravating, self-centered nitwit. I really can't think of many qualities that she displays that I want my daughters to emulate. Her curiosity, perhaps. Her lack of prejudice. But I certainly don't want them to give up their voice just to get a guy. (And I would definitely hope that they would display more sense when entering into any contracts!) When things don't work out, and the evil Ursula actually expects Ariel to keep her word (oh, how horrible!), she whines for her daddy to keep her from being held accountable (even though it means sacrificing the entire kingdom. That is supposed to make things better?! It would seem that Ariel's impulsiveness and lack of forethought were a family failing). Then she waits for her prince to kill the witch.
Last week, we watched Nim's Island, and Ariana's imagination was ignited. This is truly an adventure story about girls. Nim is strong, brave, and capable. She is smart and able to do whatever needs to be done. And while I could probably pick the movie apart and dissect things that I disapprove of with this character as well, I like that at the end of the movie my daughter felt powerful and energized.
Of course, as princesses go, Ariel isn't really worse than many others. My dislike is probably somewhat exaggerated. Yet even now, girls are often portrayed as wringing their hands and waiting while the guys have the adventures. I don't want my girls to become passive princesses who must wait to be rescued, or my son to see women that way. One of my favorite verses in Daniel, that I want all of my children to internalize, is from chapter 11, verse 32. Depending on the translation you use, it says that "the people who know their God will be strong and do exploits". Another version says that they will "display strength and take action". This is what I want for my princesses--to be strong and courageous, to have the wisdom, power and capabilities to take the action that is needed, and to never give up their voice.