I know what you’re thinking. “But she’s a girl.”
Seriously, though. Let’s get down to business.
Who She Loved: Her family. And that Li Shang fella.
Imagine you’re a teenager who struggles to do the right thing on a daily basis. You find it hard to keep your family proud. You’re headstrong and independent, dreaming of a bigger world and less restrictive life. Because of this, you make poor decisions. Your priorities aren’t set. In fact, you’re seen as the problem child. You’re also the only child, so that makes things pretty touchy. It’s not like you don’t love your family – you adore and would do anything for them. Well, except all of that. But it’s not like you don’t try. It’s just hard to throw yourself into activities you’re not too keen on. You do your chores and dance lessons. When Mom needs help in the kitchen or with the livestock, you go through the motions dispassionately. Then suddenly one day, after your biggest screw-up to date, your disabled father gets called to war. He has no male heirs to go in his place. You know that another stint in the military would be his last. And you love him far too much to let him sacrifice himself. Do you sit back and let him go off to war without saying a word?
Or do you sacrifice yourself instead?
That’s the decision Mulan has to face, and does so without so much as a moment’s hesitation. If that isn’t true love, I can’t say that I even know what it is. She throws on daddy’s armor and slices off her hair, taking on the pseudonym of Ping (or is it Ling? Ah Chu? Mushu?) and rushing off to save China. In the thicket of all the country-saving, she meets commanding officer Li Shang. First, she just needs to impress him enough to not get sent home. Second, she needs to help him avenge his father’s death. And avenge, she does. Marvelously.
What I love the most about Mulan as a “Prince Charming” is that she’s the most fleshed out “knight in shining armor” that Disney had back then. She has flaws, goals, makes mistakes, and triumphs. In the end, it isn’t Prince Philip saving the damsel because the tale says he should – it’s Mulan saving the country just because it’s the right thing to do.
xo – Meli