I have two Disney paintings by Thomas Kincade in my office. One, which hangs just above my computer features Tiana and Naveen standing by the bayou with a riverboat and a New Orleans mansion in the distance. She is speaking and he is holding her hand, staring at her with rapt attention. The other, which hangs next to my window features Rapunzel in a boat, reaching upward for a lantern, her face awash with joy, eyes turned toward the purple night sky. Flynn Rider is in the rear of the boat, smiling at her, a lantern extended in his hand ready to hand it to her when she finally turns to notice him.
Interesting works of art…my two favorite princesses (and Abigail’s as well) and chosen for a reason. I like the message they send, about falling in love, about happily ever after, about what life is truly all about. Now, I am not discounting our “classic” Disney princesses- Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Aurora; they all have a place in the minds and hearts of our childhood, but as young ladies grow up and grow older I think perhaps those childish dreams fade away and the allure of that glass slipper, true love’s first kiss, and “all that jazz” take a backseat, as they should in this day and age to more important matters in a young woman’s mind. As Rapunzel says in the “Tangled” version of her tower When will my life begin? And isn’t that what many young women begin to wonder as they enter into the young adult stage of their lives? College, career, financial security, a first apartment…maybe a pet, a car, a nice vacation…perhaps these are the dreams in the forefront of many minds of our up and coming generation of young women.
Of course, we want young women to believe in magic. However, as Tiana says…Fairytales can come true. You gotta make ’em happen It all depends on you. So I work real hard each and every day … And that’s an important factor; that the magic is inside each young woman all along…that with hard work and determination, all their dreams can come true. As long as each one of them is willing to put forth the effort and push themselves to the limit and reach for the sky (yes, I stole that one from Toy Story!) then their very own fairy tale dream can become a reality, any reality they choose for themselves.
But, it’s up to them, in today’s world, we women cannot, must not just sit and wait for that “someday my prince will come” moment. And frankly, why on earth would we want to do that? We have all of the magic we need inside of us to shape our own happily ever after, to create a “great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day” for ourselves and we can push ourselves to dream big, to motivate others, to inspire, to lead, and to achieve.
Oh, but what about love, you say? For in all these princess movies, even the movies featuring Rapunzel and Tiana two very strong willed, determined and empowered princesses, there is a little bit of romance and a happily ever after (I personally think “ I See The Light” is the best Disney love song ever penned). So, I am not discounting romance completely. I am not tossing it to the side or sweeping it under the rug. However, I have some rather…shall I say, empowering thoughts about romance in the world of Disney and I just love the way my favorite Disney girls approach the idea of romance.
Tiana and Rapunzel, I tip my tiara to both of you. The mindset showcased in your films is a beautiful message about love and about what it means to fall in love. From the moment Flynn and Naveen cross the screens, it’s perfectly clear to audiences; you ladies don’t need these men. You’ve been doing find on your own. Each of you has chosen to be with this man and by the end of the film’s run, you love this man. And he doesn’t need to rescue you from anything (or at least from anything major) because you can take care of yourself. He’s there because he likes you as well, and by the end of the film, he has also fallen in love with you. The message is quite clear: “I choose you and you choose me right back”.
That’s a love story. That’s a happily ever after. That’s the kind of dream come true we want for our empowered young women in this day and age.