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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tale as Old as Time

I haven't seen Brave yet.
I want to, but I won't till it comes out at least on RedBox, and probably not till Netflix. But that's just because my daughter is 2. I will not brave the theater with her for some time to come. (See what I did there?)We will not use a date-night for a family flick either.

So ... excited but willing to wait.

Excited why?
Because I love kick-ass girls, obviously. I also love how many little boys I know who are loving this kick-ass Merida.

But I don't get people thinking the kick-ass heroine is new.

Before they lowered the neckline on her dress and started merchandising her along-side my much maligned Cinderella, Belle kicked ass.

Kicked ass why?
  1. Loves to read.
  2. Cares not a lick if the townspeople think she's odd.
  3. Repeatedly turns down a marriage proposal from "the handsomest man in town," because he's "a brainless brute," --- who does not respect her interests and only wants her for her looks.
  4. Rescues her father from the Beast by offering to stay in his place.
  5. She was pretty inept at fighting those wolves, but she did try.
  6. Falls in love with the Beast despite his "monstrous form" because of what's on the inside.
Beauty and the Beast came out in 1991. I was 14. It was the last Disney movie I loved. Whether that relates to my age or the movies ... 

Belle is a heroine, a protagonist. She is not a passive part in her own story. 
Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora -- they all know how to work hard and stay sweet and talk to animals, but they just wait around for a handsome dude to make their lives better. 
Belle takes action. Belle falls in love over time, with a person - not a face.

The movie scared my daughter a little, so we don't watch it. But when I read our Little Golden Book version several times per week, we take turns singing the song - she's amazingly good, by the way!
She knows that "Gaston is not nice." She knows when the Beast is sad and hurt, and she feels badly for him and shows no fear of his appearance. I'm not sure she knows that the handsome prince on the last page was the Beast all along. But she will.

I don't recall Belle directly inspiring me in 1991. Looking back, I do see that while I may have strayed, I never settled.

I hope my daughter will be able to say the same. I hope she'll know the transformative power of love.

I hope marketers don't lower Merida's neckline in the years to come.

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