11 April 2008

How does she know

To finish our trip this week through the world of Disney’s heartbreakers (there are plenty more that we may explore another day, should the crowd be willing), I thought we would visit the most recent additions to the ranks of the sassy, classy, and make my heart flitter, Giselle.

Any discussion that seeks to get to the heart of who Giselle is, must begin by exploring her role as a Disney Princess. To quote USA Today, “Enchanted's Giselle is a member of a very special royal "we," a sisterhood known as the Disney princesses.” What I find truly astonishing about this article, and other articles like it, is that Giselle is not a Princess in any sense of the word.

True, Giselle has everything a Princess needs. She looks like a Princess, with her flowing gowns, perfect hair, and knockout smile. She has the gifts of a Princess, she can clean, she can sew, and she can sing her heart out. Giselle even has friendly forest creatures that not only watch out for her well-being, but are also at her beckoning call for chores, duties, and deliveries. She has a rags-to-(what would have been)riches story. Giselle even comes from a land with a truly magical name, Andalasia. Yet, she never marries Prince Edward and, from what we are told, Robert has no royal blood.

Does this mean that we should simply write off Giselle as another in a long line of fantastic heroines that never wore the tiara? Quite the opposite, actually.

Giselle shows growth throughout the film. What starts off as naïve acceptance and ignorance grows into curiosity and self-examination. She leaves behind the world of Happily Ever After for a world where emotions other than love can rule a heart and happiness is something that takes work. Yet, as she comes to internalize what could be conceded to as mortal traits, curiosity, conflicting emotions, and attachment, she also takes on a persona generally left to the champions of legends. Through self-sacrifice, an unwillingness to concede to what is expected of her, and determination this peasant from Anadalasia rises above what we have come to expect from our Disney Princesses.

In the end, Giselle becomes an every-woman, and every woman should be proud to associate themselves with her. What mother do you know that is not willing to sacrifice sleep, romance, or her physical being to protect their family? What woman would not show the tenacity to go after what she really wants, all the while smiling? What woman wants every day to become monotonous as she files through it as expected by her superiors and family? No, Giselle is the sculpted in the form of the modern woman, and the modern woman is more powerful than any Princess could ever be.

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