17 September, 2014

Reasons why Ariel is not a bad princess!

There are so many anti-The Little Mermaid folk who call Ariel a horrible role model, indecent, trashy, and many other names. Some have even gone as far as to call fans of the princess "b*tches". I've read plenty of negative posts on Ariel, so why not voice out my own opinion? Here's a list with the six main reasons why people dislike Ariel, and my reasons to why they are wrong. If you have others that are not stated here, write them on the comment box below and I'll get back to you! c:<

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 this, "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;

7 comments:

  1. I adore "The Little Mermaid" even as a feminist. Nostalgia goggles play a huge role here but when I look back at ariel as a kid: 1) body issues: nope, looking at her with childhood innocence and being skinny as hell as a kid myself I didn't even see how teenie her waist and limbs are. As an ADULT re-watching I noticed her unrealistic proportions immediately, but viewed through the lens of childhood you won't notice or develop problems. It's just a stylistic convention for portraying her as youthful, though as an adult, yes, it's annoying to see too-thin drawings for females everywhere.

    2) Trading legs for a man: Eric was the final catalyst, I agree. Judging by her massive human world collection and the years it took to get it, it's easy to see she's been obsessed for a long time and might have traded her fin for legs if dad destroyed her collection regardless of Eric. Furthermore as a kid I loved Ariel for her beautiful voice, kind/playful nature, adventurousness, and pluckiness. She's not too overly-girly either considering. She's a playable character (fighter) in Kingdom Hearts, the only Princess that is, and she takes the reigns of the chariot from Eric and freaks him the hell out. Cinderella and Sleepy Beauty definitely programed that "find a Prince and love" crap, but not the Little Mermaid. It was a nice transition into the more "modern" independent Princesses we'd get later.

    As an adult I can understand why 16-year-old wedding at the movie's climax and seemingly trading your life for a man you don't know is a problem but like you said, it's a fairy tale, escapism, and she's still an interesting character. I think we should leave it as it is: a nice time capsule of some old-fashioned thinking in the late 80s early 90s with steps toward progression.

    Love your blog, I'm vegan with a carnivore boyfriend and always trying/looking up natural stuff, too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great to hear what others think on this subject, and I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from with this. :)
      Thank you for loving my blog by the way! If I weren't so limited on cash I'd have everything green and organic.<33

      Delete
  2. I love to know what your thinking,, and at the same time-- you help me think,
    and you know what? I agree with you!
    love
    tweedles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad! And I'll be visiting your blog real soon. I've been real busy this past week.

      Delete
    2. I've been meaning to respond to this for a while! Fantastic write and I really appreciate you doing this in response to my comments. I am a bit tired right now so I might write more later, but I do generally agree with you on a lot fo what you're saying. I re-watched the little mermaid the other day and the things that I still take issue are, without going into too much detail:

      1. The treatment/ depiction of Ursula. I think that she is not fleshed out as a character and that she is just shown as the 'ugly' force behind Ariel's destruction. I want to know more about why she is the way she is- I feel like there are issues of mental-health and some other feminist issues about potential bullying (??) that were never brought into light. I wannt know *why* she became evil. And also why she has to be overweight, seemingly masculine in presentation (or at least not 'passing' as 'feminine') to become that kind of evil.

      2.Sure what you say about body proportions is valid, but I feel the main issue here is representation. Yeah, people have chubby genes, people ave skinny genes, people have tall genes and high waisted jeans. But we don't see this representation in Disney Princess movies, and particularly not in Ariel where we are actually given the most visual focus on a princesses body. Why do you think it was such a big deal when Merrida from BRave wasn't "skinny" (in my opinion she was, but anyway)? People have labelled Merrida as the 'fat' and 'lesbian' princess. Just because she didn't appear to be 36-24-36 and didn't follow the same rigidly heteronormative narrative.

      3. Aforementioned heteronormativity. Not an issue I have specifically with this movie, but c'mon, we need a break here. As a young girl who was mainly attracted to other girls, I would have felt a lot better about myself if there was more representation in things as salient to my childhood as Disney movies. As it was I ended up in a string of long-term heterosexual relationships basically because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. I'm still in a loving relationship with a boy, who knows that I am mainly attracted to women, but I just wonder what my life could have been like if my desires were made more legitimate through media that directly impacted my childhood.

      4. POC/WOC representation. This is an obvious one. I mean, the best we get is a a (Jamaican?/) lobster, and it seems a liiiitle bit reduced to me. We can do better.

      There are a few other points I wanna make but I am about to fall headfirst onto my keyboard! Thanks for the great read an alternative perspective though, and I hope you're having a great week xxx

      Delete
  3. Also I think the most important thing for me to not is this: I take no issue in The princess Ariel as she is as a young wom*n. I think she personally is headstrong, clever and a good person. She deserves no blame here. What is problematic is general issues of representation and the heteronormative Disney movie narrative- an issue I have with the forces behind the makers of these films, not with the actual wom*n characters that they foster. Every wom*n should be celebrated, Ariel included, which is why I am simply made weary and impatient by the same story/bodies/desires made legitimate over and over and over again. Xx

    buddleandsqueak.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Thanks! And I can see where you're getting at. Unfortunately, the story behind villains is not always clear, and in the original fairy tale Ursula held no grudges against Ariel or her family. She was simply a sea witch who gave her what she wanted but (like many things in life) came with consequences. I think Ursula is more feminine than masculine for the sole purpose of facial appearance and character. She may not have been the most attractive villain, but she cared about how she looked (regardless of her body) and has this certain sass to her that has given her many fans.

      2. I could see why people made a big deal out of Brave. In my opinion it was a good movie, but I too saw her as skinny. She just has a round face, which shouldn't label someone as "chubby" or "fat". Feminist wise: I don't think it was a breakthrough in Disney films. I mean, after The Little Mermaid, princesses started to represent more for independence.

      3. One could say that Mulan changes the game in that, but there are others who argue against that too. That's why I love Sailor Moon so much. They fearlessly play with gender roles, at least the original manga and anime. The English-dub took out and changed many scenes. :(

      4. Sebastian was actually supposed to have a British accent, which to me would have been a typical move from Disney; so the fact that they made him Jamaican (and the voice actor agreed to do it) is fine by me. I do wish they'd make more princesses and characters of different races besides European and American. I've been dying to see a Mexican princess for ages!
      Btw have you noticed that depending on the place they're from (France, Denamrk, Germany, etc.) many characters speak with accents, but not the main characters? That's one of the many reasons I couldn't stand Frozen.

      Thank you for taking the time to read it and sharing your thoughts. Hope you get some nice rest too! Sleep is one of my most favorite things.<3

      Delete