Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Childhood Heroes, Part II: Ariel

Welcome back to the My Childhood Heroes feature, where I talk about the heroes and idols of my childhood. Some of you might remember the previous, first post in this series, highlighting Hermione Granger. This month's hero is a very different one. 
First of all, she's an animation. Secondly, she's a mermaid. And thirdly, she's a princess.

So what we have here is our typical Disney princess heroine who goes on a journey and gets the prince in the end. Or do we? Is Ariel really that shallow a character?
Not from my point-of-view. I wouldn't highlight her in this feature if this was the case anyhow - to me, Ariel is one of the most unique and inspiring characters that Disney has ever designed.

Her being a mermaid may be one of the reasons why I love her, but in the end, she doesn't even want to be one. What she longs for is to be a human, with two legs and two feet on the ground. Which is interesting, because she wants to leave the fairy tale world she lives in and become a human like us, the audience - and why does she want this? Because she is in love with a prince. So basically she steps out of one fairy tale world into another. But it's because she doesn't see the fairy-tale-ness about her old life - it's what she knows, so she doesn't see it as something special. 
Anyhow, this probably has nothing do with why Ariel is one of my childhood heroes, it's more of an attempt at explaining of the story and the amazingness of the film.

Ariel is just such a typical teenager; rebelling against her surroundings and parents (father), longing for another life in another world, where everything is so much better. Although I don't think I understood this when I watched the film as a child, I was able to relate to Ariel by means of her dreaminess - and, funnily, her habit of collecting stuff. Just like Ariel, I used to day-dream a lot, make up stories in my head (or listen to/ read stories), and I loved collecting books, jewellery and other things. She truly stimulated my fantasy - every time I was in the water or swimming pool, I pretended to be a mermaid like her. I sung the songs she sings in the movie, and I tried to let my hair flow as beautifully in the water, as hers does.

Oh yes, Ariel was like a dream to me, a dream of what I wanted to be when I was older. Beautiful, innocent and talented. Perhaps there are people who think this is stupid, or they think that it's a shame Disney and other companies like Barbie etc. brainwash little girls and make them want to chase after unrealistic and exaggerated ideals. Personally, I disagree with these people. Having so-called "unattainable" ideals as a girl hasn't harmed me in any way - it has inspired me and made me work to achieve goals. Children simply need idols, heroes, and they've found them in the times before Disney and Barbie, believe me.

Today I have accepted the fact that my hair will never turn red and grow beneath my elbows while still looking voluminous. But I'm still getting better at singing, and nobody is going to talk me out of wearing bows in my hair. Or swimming mermaid-style, whenever I get the chance.
All thanks to Ariel.


  1. Ariel isn't my favourite (that honour goes to Belle, haha) but I can certainly understand your reasoning and I love the Little Mermaid :D Ariel was the start of what I like to call the 'new wave' of Princesses for Disney. Like you say, she is a typical teenage girl, but she's intelligent and kind, two qualities that I always admire and hold important!

    1. I think that the childhood films that become your favourite ones depend a lot on coincidence - what films your parents bought for you etc. For example, I only watched Beauty and the Beast one time, and I have no idea why. But Belle seems to be the favourite of many girls :).

  2. Lovely post Mette. Thank you for sharing that. Growing up with a much younger sister, I was 'forced' to watch a lot of animated princess films, and to this day Ariel is my favorite because I think she had the best singing voice.

    1. Oh, poor you ;).
      Nice to hear that Ariel is your favourite though.
      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Immensely enjoyed reading this post. I can't even describe my feelings properly.
    I also loved Ariel when I was a kid and it's such a great Disney classic. I also don't think that Disney brainwash innocent minds (however, I have a different idea about Barbie). They just show kids beauty. By the way, not it got me thinking, I never had ideals like that in childhood... that's odd.

    1. That is so great to hear! You might have a point about Barbie, but personally "she" didn't affect me in a negative way, and I loved the Barbie films.
      I'm very happy to find another Ariel lover in you.


Let the discussion begin!