I love Disney princesses, all of them. My favorite is Belle and always has been. My affection for Disney princess movies will never fade and I absolutely love being able to share that with my daughter. I don’t have a problem with the “princess needs rescuing by her prince” themes or that my three-year-old already associates male figures, like her dad or uncles, as someone’s prince. Some people do, but I don’t.
When we watch a movie, I usually buy it on Amazon Video because it is inevitable that we will watch it again…and again. The first time we watched Brave however, I rented it thinking we probably wouldn’t watch it again — wrong. A week later I bought it. Brave is underrated and I find it to be one of the better princess movies ever produced. I love Beauty and the Beast as a classic, nostalgic love, but Brave is right there at the top with it.
If you haven’t watched Brave with your kids, I’m going to give you some reasons why you should:
1. Merida’s parents are raising her together and have a happy marriage full of love.
This almost never happens in Disney movies and I adore that it does in Brave. I’m so grateful to have a movie that shows an affectionate, loving relationship. King Fergus flirts with Queen Elinor, helps her work through the rift with Merida, and fights for her.
2. The movie shows us why forcing our children to be something they are not is detrimental.
It is not our way or the highway. When a child is getting ready to stick a crayon in an outlet it is, however. But not when they’re telling us what kind of clothes they like or what they want to be when they grow up. As parents we guide our children to be good people who can make good decisions not only about their lives, but also the lives of those around them. We also keep them safe from harm with boundaries and precautions in place, allowing them to grow into who they’re meant to be. Brave breaks gender norms and keeps us honest. I will re-watch Brave year after year as my girl grows as a reminder to always help her be who she is.
3. Merida embraces who she is, without apology.
Merida loves what she loves. She loves her horse, her weapons and archery, and food. She does not conform to the standard princess role of prim and proper, but enjoys rock climbing and carrying a big plate of pastries. She is loud and witty, and she can be ill tempered. At the same time, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and reveal her true heart in all its nakedness and complexities. She is real and honest, instead of growing bitter and distant from her family — just like I would want for my own daughter to be.
4. Merida can be defiant and unruly, but she learns from her mistakes.
Merida makes some inexcusable decisions that she may not be able to reverse — just like in real life — but she also tries to atone for her faults. She is a flawed character, but shows how she grows and blooms while facing adversity throughout the movie. She starts off placing blame on others but acknowledges that she made bad decisions and she is prepared to pay for her mistakes, in order to heal her kingdom and family. She never expected anyone other than herself to make things right.
This movie overflows with grace. Grace for Queen Elinor who tried to force societal norms onto her daughter. Grace for Merida in all of her recalcitrant decisions. Grace for their relationship, which was teetering on the edge of utter brokenness. I think grace is a good thing to teach, to display in the lives of our children, in the lives of all.
6. The mom grows, too.
Queen Elinor is determined to raise a proper princess, to do her duty for her kingdom, and to uphold her place of authority. Instead she denies herself, hears out her daughter, and encourages Merida to become all that she is by breaking tradition and finding love for herself in her own time. She sets aside her crown and shows Merida how to be a strong woman.