On May 11, Princess Merida, from the Oscar winning film Brave, will officially be welcomed to the Disney Royal Court and I say “Here Ye, Long Live Princess Merida”.
This is a princess for a new generation. Merida doesn’t fit nicely into the traditional box of a demure and passive damsel in distress waiting for a strong, all-commanding prince to rescue her. Rather she speaks her mind, stands her ground and can take care of herself, thank-you!
Defending oneself against adversity and being self-sufficient are attributes typically awarded to males in the movies. I love the fact that Hollywood is sending the message that girls, as well as boys, can use Masculine Energy to their advantage. Of course, Merida also exhibited Feminine Energy when she listened to the allied tribes, empathized with their opinions and ultimately brought them together through collaboration. In this way Hollywood skillfully demonstrated that none of us have to be one or the other, we can be both, which is the way of the future.
This movie did some other things well too- for example, Merida wasn’t a girl placed randomly in a boys’ story. Rather, she demonstrated a typical girls’ reality- struggling to become a self-sustaining individual while gaining independence from her mother. When a girl sees a princess mirroring her real-life experiences it is comforting to know that she isn’t alone. It sends a huge message that “I’m OK”.
Additionally, when a girl sees the princess using skills she thought were only socially-acceptable by boys it gives her confidence to enter a jurisdiction that she may not have previously believed was available to her. Using Masculine Energy attributes like setting boundaries, learning to say “no” and promoting yourself will be important when a woman embarks on her career so the earlier we can begin to model them the better.
Another good message was that girls should worry about performance first and appearance second. When the court tried to suppress Merida by dressing her in a corset and covering her curls to meet potential suitors, she was uncomfortable and ripped the armholes of her dress to give her more room to shoot her bow and arrow.
How many of us have purchased clothing because style dictates it and we want to fit in and then found ourselves not only uncomfortable but also less able to function? I remember well running to catch a plane in a tight skirt and high heels- my outfit was a real impediment to making my connection while my male co-workers in trousers and flat shoes had no such problems!
When Merida refuses to accept her suitors she breaks free of societal expectations and then outshoots them with her bow and arrow. With that act she discovers herself and really comes into her own. Each and every woman needs to dive deep to unearth her true talents and find a way to exercise them. In doing so she, like Merida, can live authentically.
It was empowering for Merida to recognize that she didn’t need anyone else to provide it for her and that too is a fine example for a new generation of girls. The very best part of the script was that Merida didn’t fall head over heels in love. There was no charming prince who whirled her round the dance floor or rode up on his big white steed to carry her off into the sunset. The movie concluded with Merida riding off on her own. She sent a powerful message that woman don’t need a man to complete them.
Now I’d like Hollywood to give us a movie where a boy uses the more reserved and thoughtful Feminine Energy to discover himself and reach his goals. We still have a mindset that whether you are a boy or a girl fiery, Masculine Energy characteristics are what it takes to be successful. Sometimes true bravery comes from sitting still and waiting to let your opponent come to you.
Merida showed us that both boys and girls can be tough and strong. That’s good- we leveled the playing field- both genders are free to use Masculine Energy.
Now I want Hollywood to show that both boys and girls can use Feminine Energy. I recognize that it is a tougher hill to climb as our society reveres action but paradoxically advancement doesn’t always come from movement- sometimes it comes from the Feminine Energy of “being”, rather than the Masculine Energy of “doing”.
I won’t be so presumptuous as to suggest a script to Hollywood but here’s a thought: let’s have a boy raise his siblings and learn to depend upon his inner knowingness rather than attacking the external world. Let’s have him be thoughtful, using both imagination and quiet confidence to overcome immense obstacles. Let’s have him reach his goals using love and tenderness.
Merida, a female protagonist who naturally exuded Masculine Energy was a good first step for Hollywood. Now we need some movies to show both girls and boys using Feminine Energy so the world can see the value in listening, empathizing, collaborating and letting things unfold naturally. If Disney were officially inducting such a prince I’d fly to Orlando for the coronation.