Most little girls grow up watching Disney movies, particularly Princess movies. When you think of princesses most people would probably think of, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Belle. Mulan is often overlooked, and she is different than most of the other princesses. She doesn’t have a big finale scene in a big ball gown, she defies the princess norms, by being more “boy-like.”. In the clip below, this depicts the scene in which Mulan chooses to disguise herself as a man in order to go to war instead of her father, who is old and ill.
This is a big change for her family, who wanted her to be a wife and a mother, and somebody who is feminine, which is seen in the song, “Honor to Us All.” When Mulan goes to fight for her father, she has to conform to act like a man. In the song, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” there are many lyrics that suggest that you must be a man to be strong. For example, he says “with all the strength of a raging fire.” It also repeatedly says, “Be a Man.” Throughout the song, the singer, Li Shang, is giving instructions on how to be a man, and if you are a man, you will be a good fighter in the war. After her identity is exposed, she is expelled from fighting in the war. But when Mulan ends up being there when they come to fight the Huns. She fights the leader in a solo combat and defeats him.
Mulan, defies the gender norms possessed by the majority of the beloved Disney Princesses, she possesses, “tomboy” qualities. In Keywords for Children’s Literature, “tomboy” is defined as, “a girl who behaves like a spirited or boisterous boy; a wild romping girl” (220). Mulan can be compared to Jo March in Little Women. Both characters have tomboy qualities, and are not like their peers. Jo is furious that she can’t go fight along side her father in the Civil War and Mulan goes and disguises herself as a male to fight in the war. These characteristics set themselves apart from their peers.
Often in Disney Princess movies, the protagonist of the princess is very feminine and obedient. In Keywords for Children’s Literature, Michelle Ann Abate, discusses that now in the twenty-first century, more and more girls are possessing tomboy qualities, like playing sports, wearing pants, and having short hair (224). But yet, the majority of young girl’s role models, and the princesses they grow up watching don’t possess many tomboy qualities. Mulan is a great example for young girls, who might not see the other princesses as relatable. She is strong, bold, and courageous.