Thursday, January 7, 2010

Remember Mulan??

Throughout the history of Disney films a consistent theme has appeared in direct relationship to the values lived out by women today. The first Disney heroine, Snow White, may not conjure up images of a strong value foundation but she does firmly grasp her role in caring for the Seven Dwarfs. More recently characters like Mulan and Belle epitomize the unwavering commitment in discovering their core values and then they stand firmly upon them.

In the beginning Mulan, like many people in the world, is afraid to be herself and disappoint her family. She knows the path that has been laid out before her and strives to be the girl that everyone wants her to be. The problem is, she has an inner drive that does not fit the everyday Chinese girl and this becomes especially obvious as her mother takes her to the matchmaker to receive an extreme makeover. Mulan tries her best to become what she believes her family desires of her but she cannot please the matchmaker and is thrown out. Mulan believes she has failed miserably. Facing disappointment from her family Mulan turns away, disgusted with herself, wondering who she is and how she will ever gain their approval.

She ends up disguising herself as a man to protect her father and joins the Chinese army. Her adventures allow her to mature and gain emotional strength but it’s only when her fellow soldiers discover she is a woman that she is forced to take a hard look at herself. She suffers extreme humiliation, faces abandonment and more disappointment from the peers who knew her as Ping. For a moment she sinks into self pity but when she realizes the Huns are still alive she springs back into action. Only this time there is no disguise. To be effective in achieving her goal of protecting her country she must not pretend to be something she is not.

Like Mulan, many of us take on the roles that society or our families lay out. We adapt and adjust to fit their mold, never really considering that perhaps our own unique design was not meant to be adapted or adjusted in accordance with someone else’s. In the end Mulan discovers that while she was pretending to be someone else, her own unique self was deep inside her all along. Like many of us, she has to decide if being herself is enough. What she decides changes the course of her life and the course of history. She makes her decision to stand up; throwing off her disguise, believing the foundation of who she is will be her strongest asset. She has discovered she is significant, she is a woman of influence and she embraces the truth of her strengths even with her imperfections. The message is clear, no matter what anyone else says or does, she is enough.

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