News Writer, Alice Park
Most of us can say Disney was a major part of our childhood, whether it was through shows or movies. But what we didn’t realise, was Disney has been teaching us essential life lessons all along.
Like most of the other kids around my age, I used to watch Disney channel almost every single day, cooped up on my sofa, and getting hyped up for shows like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody or Phineas and Ferb. But it turns out that the little me on the sofa was not only enjoying childish Disney shows and movies, but I was actually getting taught invaluable lessons.
Through the relationships, plots, and conflicts of the shows and movies, Disney taught me the importance of relationships, being true to myself, and many more deep inspirations. Here are some of them.
- Do not let yourself be limited by gender stereotypes
The main characters in the movies, Brave and Mulan, are two empowering females who knew their passions clearly and followed their hearts, no matter how they contradicted the common female stereotypes.
Merida from Brave was a talented archeress and followed her spirit of adventure. However, she was expected by her parents and the whole kingdom to live according to the old tradition of being married off to a prince in an ally kingdom. Merida did not let that policy stop her from being who she actually was, because she was not just another princess to be easily married off to a prince.
“There are those who say fate is something beyond our command, that destiny is not our own. But I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it, ” said Princess Merida.
Likewise, Mulan from the movie Mulan wanted to join the army but due to her gender, she could not do so. Yet, her strong spirit drove her forward and she made sacrifices, no matter how they impacted her life, to disguise herself as a man and join the army. Mulan showed me how to be strong and determined, and she showed all the girls out there that females are capable of what males can do.
- True love is found within family
Anna from Frozen sought after true love by desperately wanting to get married to a prince who she fell for at first sight. She deeply believed Prince Hans was the ultimate love of her life and convinced herself she was right. Near the end, when she was going to literally freeze to death and true love was the only cure, even Kristoff brought her to Hans; an outsider who only had temporary charms. Nonetheless, the ending, where Elsa sacrificed her life for her sister, displayed the only act of true love in the movie. Anna was too busy looking for love outside of the castle walls, she didn’t realise the most genuine love was only a closed door away.
- Family sticks together and friends are your chosen family
On the similar note, Disney showed us a lot about the importance of family. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Toy Story, and Good Luck Charlie, were several of the shows/movies that taught us family sticks with you through thick and thin, and they are always there for you. No matter the stupid things Zack and Cody did, their mom and friends around them accepted them for who they were. Even the toys from Toy Story demonstrated a definite bond of friendship and loyalty. At the end of every episode of Good Luck Charlie, there was a special message for Charlie, which showed family really cares and loves each other deeply.
- Do not judge people based on stereotypes
Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph did not really enjoy wrecking things and being the bad character. Although every other character expected him to be mean and evil, Ralph actually had a kind and soft heart. He did not let his “bad guy” stereotype get to him, but he kept on being himself.
“I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me,” said Ralph.
- Sisterhood is precious
Not everyone can relate to this one, but sisters are the best. I have two phenomenal older sisters, and having them in my life is one of the reasons why I can proclaim God is so good.
In Lilo and Stitch, sisterhood is so beautifully displayed, as Nani consistently looks out for Lilo. As the older sister, Nani fills in the role of their parents for Lilo and does everything she can to protect and care for Lilo. Disney does a good job in portraying family love, and Lilo and Stitch is definitely one of the best films to do so.
- True beauty is found within
“But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within,” said the Narrator of Beauty and the Beast.
Indeed, the beast from Beauty and the Beast looked like a cold hearted scary monster who probably has never experienced love before. However, his outer appearance did not keep Belle from approaching him. The beast may have looked hard to approach, but Belle had hope and started to see his kind and warm soul.
This taught me to realise my true beauty is found within and the beauty of others is found in their hearts as well.
- Explore and be adventurous
Rapunzel was kept inside a tower by her kidnapper for all of her life. Although Rapunzel was not allowed to leave the tower, she was confident that there was much more to the world than what she could see, than what was already around her. She did not let herself be confined by the walls around her.
We, ourselves, may not be stuck in a tower, but Tangled showed going out into the world is important, rather than being cooped up in our comfort zones.
- Home may seem far away, but you’ll get there
Nemo from Finding Nemo traveled across the sea for the whole movie, as he tried to get back home. He faced many challenges along the way but in the end, he finally got back into the loving arms of his father.
I can relate to Nemo as he tried really hard to go back home. It has been about a year since I moved back to Korea but I am still adjusting to the new environment and culture. As of now, Korea still does not feel like home and I want to go back, to the place my heart calls home. But, I know through the challenges that I face, I will eventually find my place in my motherland.
- You are never too ordinary to do something extraordinary
Hiro from Big Hero 6 and Moana were both just kids living their regular lives. They both thought they could not do anything more special than their daily routines. Even when they got their calling to become a hero and go on a mission, they thought it was impossible because to them, they were just ordinary kids. Can an ordinary person really make much difference in the world? Yes, they can.
Hiro and his group, including Baymax, saved Callaghan’s daughter from a portal and continued on protecting their whole city. Moana returned the heart of Te Fiti and saved her island from getting destroyed.
And then there’s my all time favorite, Winnie the Pooh. The fluffy little characters of Winnie the Pooh were not only cute and cuddly, but they surely did have a lot of wisdom on life. This Winnie the Pooh quote is one of my favorites:
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” said Christopher Robin to Pooh.
These films taught me to never underestimate my abilities, because I may not know yet the big things I am capable of.
- Honestly, just be yourself
Kick Buttowski is one of my favorite Disney characters. He did not let his height define him and keep him from seeking to be the world’s greatest daredevil. Everyone around him thought he could not be a savage because he just looked like a stout little kid. But as Kick Buttowski is, he never denied a challenge and conquered to be a daredevil with his persistence and skills.
Although this show seemed incredibly funny and childish, Kick Buttowski’s character showed me how to be determined and persistent to chase after my own dreams, and work hard for it.
Even if Disney may have not played an important role in some our childhoods, we can all still take away meaningful life lessons from Disney shows and movies, and apply them in our lives today.