Here’s a secret — my daughter, at the age of nine, has yet to see The Little Mermaid. And it’s not because I forgot, or couldn’t find it in my movie queue, or happened to overlook it at the dvd store. It’s on porpoise. (Cue the bad pun/mean mother music here.)
When I was pregnant, I might have been just a teensy bit hepped up. I saw the movie shortly before she was born, and for some reason it really ticked me off. No daughter of mine was going to give up her kingdom for a boy! She was going to take kick-boxing, not ballet, wear jeans instead of dresses, and never, ever, trade in her fins for feet just for some dude with nice hair.
Ahem. Has anyone seen my daughter?
I’m thrilled, of course, that she loves ballet, that she’s graceful and delicate and beautiful. I’m impressed by her very girly sense of style. But the moral of the story is, watch what you say in the delivery room when you are on drugs, because it will come back to bite you.
Despite this, I’m not budging on the mermaid business. I don’t know why Ariel bothers me so much more than the other Disney heroines. At the heart of it, I suspect, is her willingness to actually alter her body for love, and the way that body is rejected/overlooked by the prince, despite what those changes cost the poor little princess. (I know, I’m reading too much into it, but it’s a subtext that makes me crazy.)
So, when she brings up Ariel, I counter with Nancy Drew, with Laura Ingalls, with Kitty Jones, with any one of a hundred of fictional heroines who can help her find her way along the path to a confident adulthood, a path that’s slippery enough on its own without some little mermaid adding to it.
I’m all about the strong heroines. When she’s older, I can’t wait to introduce her to Harriet Vane, to Jane Whitfield, to Elizabeth Bennet and Claire Beauchamp and perhaps even my own strong Evenfall heroine, Gert Murphy.
Of course, she’s already met my very favorite, because I have a life-sized cut out of her in my office.
(It counts!!!!! I own Joss Whedon comic books and they totally count as literature!)
Don’t forget, post your favorite heroine in the comments before Thursday for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Heroine’s Bookshelf!