Lessons from My Childhood Disney Movies


I know, I know. There have been many critiques over the years with regard to the modern woman’s “princess complex;” often attributed to the princess movies of the past.

I grew up on the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, and some classics like Pinocchio, Dumbo and Cinderella.

So I guess you can say I grew up a bit with this “princess complex.”

However, I think many of these princess movies taught some good lessons as well. Allow me to explain.

Movies like Aladdin and Pocahontas present a princess that has a sense a duty for her people. Tempted to leave and pursue her own desires, she knows there are people who depend on her. And upon the acceptance of this realization, she finds true joy.

Jasmin, from Aladdin, ends up with a boy who proves his love and goodness without having to be a prince himself. For Pocahontas, the man that inspires her has to leave, and she chooses to stay with her people.

In a world that tells us to do what we please, these movies taught us that the “royal treatment” was earned with responsibility and regard for others.

Then there’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, where we see the value in family. The Little Mermaid actually leaves her family and makes a pact with evil to achieve her goal. In the end, her dad forgives her and this forgiveness has the power to save her. And while in communion/harmony with her family, she receives the blessing to pursue her dreams. 

Belle from Beauty and the Beast is a smart young woman. Yet, she still has a lot to learn. She learns to appreciate, empathize — and even fall in love — with a person whose attitude personifies a beast. Yet, she risks it all for her father, and in recognizing the importance of family and true love, the Beast finds his humanity once again.

Classics like Pinocchio and Dumbo have obvious overtones of the good things to come when we truth-tell and value family. However, they also contain undertones of what happens when we neglect those morals.

I’ll never forget partying the night away in Pacific Beach as a young college student. That morning, the dawn would wake up to a scene much like the dead carnival scene in Pinocchio. The one where everyone turns into a Donkey, gets locked up and the streets are torn with trash and litter.

It is great that movies and culture evolve. And there is much to celebrate about Disney film today, with storylines that are inclusive and conscientious.

But even old movies can teach us valuable lessons about the general gist of life. They can teach us we are all “royalty” and deserve to be loved. But they can also teach us that we must also care for others. We don’t get to forget about the people or world around us, in order to achieve success.

They teach us that true joy lies in loving who we are, as well as loving and serving others.

What are your favorite Disney movies? Do your children watch Disney films?


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