The first thing to remember is that this film is based on a fairy tale that has been switched around a bit for the child audience. This film also has a lot of realistic and unrealistic things. It's a film that teaches certain real-life morals with the imagery of a fairy tale (just like many fairy tales).
1. She changes/ wants legs for a man.
Ariel wanted to be a human before she saw prince Eric. She didn't want to become human so she can find a man, she wanted to explore a world beyond her own. Example: My life and city is comfortable, but I'd like to travel overseas or even to the moon. It only seems twisted and extreme in the film because it's a fairy tale. Also! An important scene that goes unnoticed is after she saves Eric and returns to the sea. She plans on seeing him again as herself, a mermaid! She doesn't say, "My plan is to have legs so he can love me!" She assumes he's interested and creates a plan where she can meet him, regardless of their differences. We call that "getting to know someone."
2. Leaves her friends and family for a man.
Remember how she's only 16 years old and her father just destroyed everything she had from the world above? It's common sense that not everyone makes the best choices when they're at their weakest point. Imagine teenage you wanting to go to a concert and your parents not only scold you, but rip off all your posters and tell you that you can never go.
Leaving home for a man is also common in reality. Not everyone does it, but it's a big move that can be taken in life. Whatever happens, you must always learn from it. She may have been 16 and not known prince Eric well, but 1. It's a fairy tale, and 2. If your family really cares about you, they'll be there for you no matter what. That really unravels once you leave the nest.
3. "Unrealistic" body proportions= false body expectations for young girls.
At this day and age, anybody can have the body of Ariel. Whether it be through eating right and exercise, corsets, surgery, or all of the above! Is surgery too far? If it won't bring you true happiness then it's not the right choice. Not everyone will go under the knife to look like a Disney princess. However, I believe that everyone should be entitled to make their own choices.
Our Natural Body: Some of us have the "skinny" gene where we can eat whatever we want and not gain a pound. Some of us have the "chubby" gene where we eat healthy and exercise but gain more muscle than a tiny hourglass body. And we all have different body shapes (it's all in our genes)! We must do our best to keep healthy. Little girls should be taught all of this so that in the future they don't go around despising women who they think look "better" than them. As corny as this may sound, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Before any man or woman, that first beholder has to be ourselves.
4. Eric only likes her for her looks.
Ursula tells Ariel to use body language to make Eric want her, but if you watch the movie closely, that's the last thing Ariel is focusing on. Can't you see how excited she is to get a tour of the kingdom and how she drags Eric (sometimes even leaves his side) to see other things? He wasn't attracted to her body, he was attracted to her innocence, kindness, and fearlessness/ sense of adventure. She has the initiative to accomplish whatever she wants. Who wouldn't love someone like that? One could argue if Ariel has a pretty face or not, but does it really matter when Eric is interested in other things besides her looks?
Another important scene that goes unnoticed is when Eric plays the flute, frustrated that he hasn't found the girl who saved his life and has now developed feelings for Ariel. Grimsby then tells him, "Far better than any dream girl is one of flesh and blood. One warm and caring, and right before your eyes", directing to the balcony where we see Ariel. Afterward, Eric sees the flute, and throws it into the ocean, symbolism that shows how he's ending the search for that "dream girl" and is going to open up to the one that he already cares about by walking towards her balcony. (Then Ursula comes and ruins it! >__<)
5. She's not independent, makes horrible decisions, and can't take care of herself.
It's called life. She's 16 years old and takes a big risk out of anger, love, and the thirst for new knowledge. Just because she can't take care of herself in the beginning doesn't mean that she can't learn. Just because she has a man teaching her new things doesn't make her weak or an accessory. When people watch movies, many unconsciously put themselves into the characters. We reflect some of our most deepest faults and lowest self-esteem points into these films. So if you dislike this movie or Ariel, then maybe there is something in you that you're self-conscious of or frustrated/ not happy with.
6. Eric eats seafood! He eats her friends!!
I'm vegetarian and my husband eats meat. What are you going to do about it? You can't necessarily say that Eric eats her friends because maybe Ariel didn't know any of those animals. And if she did, Eric obviously didn't know that. It's not like he ate Flounder and Sebastian after knowing they're her best friends. It's called forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, and mutual respect.
I'd like to thank Katie from Buddle and Squeak for motivating me to write this post. I've been wanting to write about this for such a long time, but no one ever asked what my reasons were for my belief of the film being misinterpreted. Hope you all enjoyed this and got a new perspective on Ariel and the movie. c;