With social media and reality TV, I was left to wonder – what movie shows a strong independent woman in terms of personality? While there is plenty of debate about Disney movies and their role models, I can name so many that embody characteristics that should be looked at for their strength. In times of adversity you can see many such as Mulan, Tiana, Merida, Elsa, Snow and even Cinderella – they survived and flourished despite the challenges they had to deal with. When you look past what we think of a stereotypical princess role, you will see that they ALL showed how to keep moving forward – isn’t that a quality we want young girls to embody? I especially loved the story of Merida because she announced that she would be ‘shooting for her own hand’.
When Brave first came out in 2012 I was excited to see it. Given that my parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland before I was born, I thought it would be cool to see a Scottish princess. While Disney movies always have ‘lessons’ in them – I didn’t expect that this one would have such a profound message to share with young women everywhere.
Here are 5 reasons Merida is one of the Disney princesses that young girls should know:
1. SHE IS TALENTED AND DIFFERENT
She can shoot, climb and ride with the best of them and can rival any man in a challenge. She isn’t the typical princess and owns her individuality despite the pressure to conform. When you first see her as a child with King Fergus you can tell that he’s teaching her to be fearless. As he tells the story of his battle about the Mor’du attacks and she rolls her eyes, you can see that they have a good relationship. Merida listens to her Dad and she takes many of her characteristics from him.
2. SHE MAKES MISTAKES
Like all of us, Merida is a headstrong girl who makes some hasty decisions that get her in to trouble. Turning her mother Queen Elinor in to bear form was kind of a big one! Merida doesn’t posses a calm head or reasoning at the beginning of the movie, but that is so much of the story – seeing her grow. Merida’s objection to being courted and married off during a version of the highland games with the different clans could only have ended with the heated argument that it did. It was after this that she got a better understanding of the importance of her mother and their relationship. The key was that Merida took responsibility for her reckless actions and cared for her mother while trying to fix it. There was no easy way to fix this, but with her mother’s help and her perseverance – she figured it out herself.
3. SHE DOESN’T GIVE UP
Faced with challenges, Merida does not give up. Some may refer to it as being stubborn – but I think she shows us that if you believe strongly in something, you should never give up. You may not have to face the likes of Mor’du – but a challenge is a challenge!
4. SHE HAS NO PRINCE
Merida spends the entire plot teaching us why she is more than capable of running her kingdom without a man by her side. I’m not advocating against marriage or true love (they are wonderful!) – but it’s important to teach young girls that they are complete without a prince charming. There is no rush for her to find a prince – more important for her to find herself.
5. SHE’S BRAVE
Merida faced the challenge of deciding who she wanted to be. She decided her own future when she ‘won her own hand’ in the archery challenge and proved that she was an individual with strength, determination and courage. Who says a princess shouldn’t have a bow and arrow anyway?
The next time you settle in for a night of TV with your princess, consider sharing this story. Teach her that your family tapestry is one you’re working on together.
What princess do YOU think is a good role model?