Monday, July 30, 2012

Your Love Life and Your Favorite Disney Prince

Everyone has a favorite Disney prince—they're all handsome, strong and heroic, but what does your dream prince say about your love life?

Prince Charming (Cinderella)

Source: via Jen on Pinterest

Oh, you’ve chosen Prince Charming, have you? It seems like you’ve gone for the easy choice. His name is Prince Charming, after all. But is he really the cutest? Is he really the right one for you? Is he really the love of your life? That is what is at stake here! It seems to me you might get fooled by overly-romantic gestures (the whole pumpkin carriage/dancing in the moonlight/searching for the slipper-owner thing), and possibly bad pickup lines, when you really need to think about what you actually want. You also might be easily fooled by someone who you think can save you. And to be fair, Prince Charming lit-er-al-ly saved Cinderella’s ass. She would have been cleaning those Step Sisters’ toilets until the cows came home. I mean, PHEW Cinderella. That was a close one. And while that kind of thing does happen in real life, you should never count on it too heavily.

Robin Hood (Robin Hood)

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

You’re a good person, aren’t you? I like you. You not only value good deeds, and demand that your partner does, too. I think you’re also the kind of person who will not settle. You will end up meeting an absolute 10, and you will lead a ridiculously happy life. In the country side. Yes, I am thinking of Sherwood Forest. And people will look at your pictures on Facebook and say “Oh God I just HATE her, that lucky, lucky duck.” With Robin Hood, you have found the little diamond in the rough. Robin Hood is easily overlooked because he’s a fox. But because he is so often overlooked, he doesn’t just automatically think anyone will sleep with him. He won’t cheat on you. He appreciates the good in people, which attracts him to other good people. He will choose a partner that he is head-over-heels with. And if that’s you, I say, lucky lucky duck I HATE you.

Shang (Mulan)

Source: via Mia on Pinterest

Sounds like you might be longing for an alternative lifestyle. You don’t want traditional fairy tales. You want gender — equality? Ambiguity? Maybe you’re not even in search of a man! But let’s say you are: interesting choice. Shang is a badass hunk who has certainly flown under the radar, receiving less attention than other Prince’s in his hotness-ballpark, like Eric or Aladdin. But perhaps that’s for good reason. He really isn’t anything without Mulan. He needs her to teach him the ways of life (mainly about trans-gender dressing.) And he’s also sexist. So I’m guessing, if Shang is your kind of guy, you’re looking for someone to mold. You want to lead the way. Just be careful. That’s very hard to do. Shang changes his tune because he is a cartoon character. Human beings are less likely to change. And being in stressful situations usually does not bring out the best in people.

Aladdin (Aladdin)

Source: via Hailey on Pinterest

Listen, I think we all know that Aladdin is the hottest Disney character ever drawn, and if you think he is your dream boyfriend, you are not thinking with your heart or your brain. Aladdin is not intelligent, has zero ambition, and only loves Jasmine because she is beautiful. His idea of wooing a woman is treating her like a “prize to be won”, and he doesn’t even change. So I think we need to think about what this means for you and your quest for love. Your expectations aren’t unrealistic, but they may be out of whack. You can’t just rely on someone’s looks and their cute little vests and the fact that they own a magic carpet! Think about your last three ex-boyfriends. Were they hot jerks who didn’t treat you with enough respect? They were, weren’t they?! Frankly, I’m worried about you. I don’t want you wasting your best years going through heaps of hot men who are emotionally unavailable for you until, years from now, you wake up all alone and realize you’re just tired of this whole thing. You deserve more than that.

Prince Adam (Beauty and the Beast)

Source: via Camille on Pinterest

I don’t think that Prince Adam is a terrible person, I don’t. I mean, he was, before Belle came and taught him an important life lesson. But he loves her and gives her her own library and there’s something sweet and almost kind — he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined. (Yes, I’m using song lyrics as a primary source.) Oh, and he almost dies for Belle. I mean, on paper, the prince is a winner, and if he’s what you’re looking, for I’m assuming you’re a good, non-shallow person. (Or you have a thing for guys in 80s hair bands.) But I’m not a good, non-shallow person, and I’m more opposed to what he does with his hair. So if Prince Adam is your dream boy, I think you actually take love seriously. You know how much work a good relationship takes. You know that your boyfriend’s long hair might be longer than yours and it gets caught in the shower drain all the time and it takes eight hours to style and it has too much product in it, but since your boyfriend is a wonderful person who gives you libraries, you over look this. You are going to have a wonderful life partner. I can see it now — he buys you whatever you want and you can be a total bitch to him, and you keep getting hotter (with all the Botox) and he gets… fatter and hairier (I mean we remember what that looked like, right?), and you find yourself at age 55 in a sexless marriage with kids you don’t even know but a few $10,000 purses to replace them. Wait, I’m not talking about Beauty and The Beast. I am thinking of The Real Housewives of New York City. Focus, Lauren.

[detailed theory from another blogger: Belle is considered one of the “good”, but still problematic princesses in the Disney collection. On the one hand, she loves to read and is unafraid of being different from those around her. On the other hand, her story seems to teach a rather dangerous narrative of love being able to change a man from fierce monster to loving husband. The idea that a good woman’s love can make a man a better person can lead to women getting into and staying too long in bad relationships—I do not know how common this is. I only know that I’ve seen it happen within my own family.

I don’t, however, think that is what Belle is meant to be teaching. Disney’s Belle has not one, but two beasts—The Beast and Gaston—neither of whom Belle saves.

Belle’s love may have ended the curse, but it did not ‘save’ the Beast. The Beast, like Belle, saved himself.

Is he gone? Can you imagine, he asked me to marry him!
Me, the wife of that boorish, brainless…
“Madame Gaston”— can’t you just see it?
“Madame Gaston”— his “little wife”.

Why didn’t Belle agree to marry Gaston?

On face, Gaston and the Beast are not the different. The main difference, at the start of the film, is that the Beast was punished for his arrogance, while Gaston is praised for his. The Beast and Gaston both also initially need Belle for their own purposes. Gaston requires the most beautiful woman in town as his wife to remain at the peak of the social pyramid. The Beast requires a captive female (captive only so that she is near him long enough to fall in love) to break his curse. In neither case do they require Belle for herself. They only need someone like her, so they try to trap her. Gaston pulls together a speedy wedding, leveraging peer pressure. The Beast trades for her father’s safety.

Neither man is a very likely prospect for proud and independent Belle. So why does the Beast end up the better choice? Why couldn’t her love have transformed Gaston just as deeply?

There’s something sweet
And almost kind
But he was mean
And he was course
And unrefined
And now he’s dear
And so unsure
I wonder why I didn’t see it there before

The first major difference between Gaston and the Beast is how they react to Belle-the-person. Belle does not back down from nor make allowances for either man. When she challenges them (refusing Gaston’s suit, shouting back after the wolf attack), Gaston responds by need to control or posses her; the Beast responds with growing respect for her. This grows into the defining difference between the two.

Gaston cannot acknowledge the needs or desires of anyone outside of his own person. He is the center of his universe. When Belle refuses him, she challenges his self-worth and entire reason for being. Her refusal is an attack, so he counterattacks. The problem with Gaston is not just his arrogance or his initial treatment of Belle, but rather his utter refusal to change or at all consider Belle’s own desires.

No one can change another person, except the person him or herself. Someone can inspire change, but ultimately, if the change is to be more than superficial, more than temporary, the person must decide to change on their own.

(For a bit more on this idea, I direct you to this review of Mansfield Park, the inspiration for this post)

If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken.

Even the Beast’s curse did not demand certain changes of him. The curse required that he (a) learned to love someone, and (b) was loved back. Interestingly (in a Penelope sort of way), the curse does not demand romantic love. The problem is not the lack of a good woman (or man) in his life, but rather his selfishness, his tendency to see people as means to his personal happiness rather than as autonomous entities worthy of respect.

Secondly, and tying back into the point above, the curse does not tell him how to accomplish any of this. It does not say ‘be nice, considerate of others, etc etc etc’ nor does the curse ensure he’ll develop these qualities (the Beast went many years without doing so, judging by his behavior at the start of the film and the fear among his servants). He is not magically compelled or guided. He has no compass telling him how to behave. If he wants to break the curse, he has to want to change on his own.

Yes, Belle inspires the change. However, she provided a similar moment of inspiration for Gaston. The difference is that the Beast chose to see her differently, chose to adjust his paradigm and actions, chose to grow as a person—and Gaston did not.

When the Beast let Belle go to her father, he had already saved himself. His form was still beastly, but his mind and heart were not. He respected (and, yes, loved) Belle enough to consider her wants and desires as equal to, if not ahead of his own. Gaston, however, continued to regard Belle as a means to his own happiness and goals.

Belle’s kiss at the end of the film only restores the Beast’s body. Her love only broke the curse; it did not suddenly make the Beast a better man.

So, the moral isn’t that love makes people better, but that a good, even transformative relationship requires a foundation of respect.

Belle does not teach us that we should try to change the people around us or that we are responsible for the actions of our loved ones. Instead, Belle teaches that we should not make excuses for others’ behaviors and that we should not allow social pressures to compromise our own desires. At the same, her story teaches that we must respect others and their desires. She teaches that we should only accept relationships in which we are respected, which seems like a rather good lesson to me.]

Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid)

Source: Uploaded by user via Devyn on Pinterest

I’m going to assume that you’ve fallen in love many, many times. It might change daily. With the last guy you saw, maybe. Because sure, Eric is kind of cute, but what else is his appeal, exactly? Is it the castle? Don’t be with him because of the castle! You might have a tendency to want unattainable men. Whether that be because he is of another species or just has a girlfriend, I don’t know. But if Eric is the kind of guy you’re chasing, start interrupting your fantasies with reality. Ask yourself “what will this really be like? This is not a fairy tale!” Another note: you might be a bit masochistic. I mean, Ariel went through an extreme physical transformation and made a deal with the devil and had her vocal chords taken and left her family and life and past forever to be with… Prince Eric. Regardless whether he is a good choice or not (he’s attractive, yet dumb), I think the larger issue is that you could fall so head over heels with someone you barely know and give up everything for him. You deserve much better. A guy who works for a living and will actually make the first move. Remind yourself of that.

[ Mini Rant about this theory from another blogger:

I might write something longer on this in the future, but for now—yet another article about how non-feminist Disney princesses are (which I’m not refuting, btw) has called out Ariel with the typical complaint that Ariel gave up her voice for a man.

Okay. You did watch her big ‘I want’ song, right? In that giant cove of shipwreck rescues, she sings, “I want to be where the people are.” Not, “I want to be where Eric is.” Her entire song, her motivation, is not getting a boyfriend. She is completely and utterly fascinated by the human world. This fascination pre-dates Eric.

Eric just gives her a reason to leap. I mean, Ariel has a large family and support system where she is. The human world captivates her, but going would mean being alone. If Eric was there for her, though, she wouldn’t be. (Triton’s reaction to Ariel’s cove and the statue of Eric is what grabs Ursula’s attention. Of course Ursula focuses on Eric—that is the part of the story she knows.)

Then, even when Ariel gets on land, she seems more fascinated by putting her (incorrect) knowledge of the human world to use (e.g., the fork) and exploring. Sebastian has to step in to help her with the whole ‘get Eric to kiss her’ thing. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t like him—because she obviously does—but that he isn’t her greatest priority once on land.

Anyway, point is—Ariel’s primary motivations are exploration and learning more about this world almost completely closed to her. Eric is another oddity of that world—another item for her to add to her collection.

Ariel does not trade her voice away for a man.

She trades her voice her away for the chance to see the world she has always dreamed about. Her voice may be one of her great talents, but she does not define herself by it. While her family would introduce her publicly as one of their best singers, Ariel would rather comb shipwrecks, encounter danger, and learn about humans. Ariel is given a choice between what others say is her best gift and what she wants more than anything—which yes, does include a guy, but isn’t only a guy.

Ariel values herself as more than her voice and pursues her dreams full-tilt. She may not be the most feminist of Disney princesses, but please, please, please stop saying that she did it all for a man.] source:

Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty)

Source: via Chau on Pinterest

You aren’t taking this seriously, are you? Give me a break. You’re just guessing. Prince Phillip brings nothing to this Disney studmuffin party. Leave him in the Fairy Tale.
--Written by Lauren Passell for HowAboutWe

Which of these is your dream prince? Think these descriptions are accurate?

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