I grew up watching Disney movies. At one point, my mom owned every single Disney movie released at the time on VHS (she had a list and everything). Dumbo taught us to “Don’t just fly, soar” — Dumbo, don’t settle for mediocracy; Dory taught us to, “Just keep swimming” — Finding Nemo, never give up on your dreams; and Belle taught us to not judge a book by its cover.
But what about the non-traditional lessons?
Disney movies teach us a lot of good, but they also can teach us some bad lessons as well. I realized a while ago that these bad lessons can also be good lessons.
Here are some of my non-traditional Disney life lessons:
You cannot change someone. In Beauty and the Beast the story line is slightly dangerous. Belle did change the Beast, but she suffered in the process. In the beginning, Beast was abusive, manipulative, and controlling. If this happened in today’s world, I would hope you’d pull a Gaston and save her too. It’s rare you can actually change someone and not lose your own happiness.
Don’t change yourself for anyone. If you are standing in front of someone giving them your all and you still aren’t enough, please pull an Ariana Grande and say, “Thank You, Next.” Ariel was right in front of Prince Eric, but because she didn’t have the perfect voice he almost married someone else.
Leaving isn’t always the answer. I don’t know what it is about Disney movies, but the protagonist always seems to leave when times get tough. Elsa had a little bit of trouble controlling her powers, so off she went to build an isolated ice castle. Alice was bored with her mundane life? Let’s hop into some random hole and see what happens. Leaving may have a purpose, but sometimes it’s okay to stay and work through whatever is happening where you are.
Your parents aren’t always wrong. Another very common theme in Disney movies is the rebellion from the parents/guardians: Pocahontas, Mulan, Nemo, Merida, Remy, Ariel, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Miguel, Arlo, Mowgli and many more. Yes, Cinderella’s step-mother was truly evil and Rapunzel was being falsely imprisoned. The problem is that at a young age, children don’t know the difference between abuse and safety.
The villain isn’t always dressed in black and looks evil. How easy would life be if we color-coded villains?
It’s not okay to lie. Starting a relationship off based on a lie is never okay, especially when the lie completely fabricates your life. It was nice and all that Jasmine loved him anyways, but this story gives me major Tinder Swindler vibes and I’m not okay with it. (Crazy show on Netflix if you haven’t seen it).
It’s not always going to be easy to tell if they are “The One.” Disney fools us when it comes to falling in love. A kiss, a foot-pop, a heroic action — those rarely happen in real life. My personal love story is messy and complicated, but in the end, he did get the girl and we are living happily ever after.
Happy endings aren’t always what you think they will be. Andy didn’t take the gang to college. Carl never made it to Paradise Falls. Mike and Sully were kicked out of college. Just because you want something doesn’t always mean that’s what you need and it’s going to be okay.
Disney movies can teach us a lot of good. Some days we are going to obsess over life’s problems like Sadness in Inside Out. We may pull the wrong lever like Kronk in Emperor’s New Groove. And there may even be days when we fall with Style like Buzz in Toy Story.