I was coloring with my favorite little girl one afternoon when she suddenly started asking me the origin stories of some of the better known superheroes. Personally, I love Batman and told her about Bruce Wayne’s tragic loss of his parents and his way cool butler.
She really wanted to know about Wonder Woman. I only knew a little, but we happened to be going to a friend’s for dinner that night who is a big Wonder Woman fan, so I told her to ask that evening.
That night, she learned about Wonder Woman and watched the pilot episode of the Linda Carter show from the 70’s. By the end of the night she was wearing a replica tiara, bullet proof bracelets, and holding a golden lasso while spinning.
And she hasn’t stopped since. My little girl IS Wonder Woman, and I’ve become a big fan too. A beautiful, smart, strong, courageous princess who fights for truth, justice, and love. What’s not to love? Or encourage? I could not ask for a better role model in a world saturated with everything I never want my princess to become.
She is a little girl who always favors the female characters, but in her eyes, even Leia couldn’t compete with her curious love of Darth Vader (though Leia has always been a hero to me), and she was still looking for the perfect hero.
But of course, she doesn’t just want to be strong; she wants to be pretty…and a princess. Naturally, she also still loves the Disney Princesses. We very recently watched the 2015 live-action version of Cinderella, who happens to be one of her beloved princesses.
Now, I know there are arguments out there that these old fairy tale princesses teach young women to be weak and to depend on being saved by their “prince charming,” but I think that just shows a lack of responsibility in teaching our young girls the values and virtues of each of those princesses. Is Cinderella weak because she has to be whisked away to the castle by her prince? I don’t think so. She was good, kind, and beautiful, and was in the end rewarded for it.
The historic context is the key to making excellent lessons out of these “helpless” princesses. Our young ladies today need to understand what life was like for women once upon a time, that they were seen as unintelligent property good only for cleaning and having babies. But in these situations, these princesses were strong in the ways they were able to be strong. They were dignified in spite of it, and though women have not quite broken through that glass ceilings around the world, and not even always in the Land of the Free, they gave little girls hope. We cannot discount that today as weak. We should be proud of how far we’ve come. (and let’s not forget the B.A. Mulan, who is based off a Chinese legend)
Princess Diana lived in a land without men, and beyond learning to be strong and to defend herself and what is right physically, her virtues are the same as many of those fairy tale princesses. Many of those values of her femininity are what makes her such an amazing character.
Our little one is not quite old enough that we feel she should see the new Wonder Woman movie yet, but she will one day, and I wonder if she will get goosebumps and tear-filled eyes when Diana climbs up a ladder and rushes through No Man’s Land the way I did. Will she also get goosebumps and tear-filled eyes when Belle (Emma Watson) dances with the Beast in the grand ballroom brought to life…the way I did? I really hope she does.
Heroes don’t have to only be physically strong. A real hero is also emotionally strong, unafraid to show a tender side, and does right, even when it is hard. Mostly, heroes need to stand for something and reflect something we want in ourselves.