sketches of Princess Merida in "Brave"

Before my daughter Merida’s accident, I might have (hyperbolically) called what happened today my worst nightmare:  Shopping at Target, I asked her which underwear she wanted to choose.  While I suggested Hello Kitty or Paul Frank monkeys, she grabbed the Disney Princesses.  I suggested several other options (“Look honey, these have the days of the week!”) but she was certain of what she wanted.  I bought them.

All her life, my husband and I have worked to keep her away from TV and mainstream junk.  I know, everyone says the Pixar movies are great, and I have seen a couple of them (not bad) but Merida thinks movies are the things we watch on youtube, most often short videos of the band Hot Club of Cowtown, or Mark Bittman cooking.

But next year, Disney/Pixar will release a film called “Brave“.  The heroine is named Princess Merida.  Princess Merida!  When I first found out about this last spring, I was horrified.  How dare they steal my child’s name?!  And how badly will they mispronounce it, adding to the confusion we already face each visit to the pediatrician’s office, when she’s called “Muhr-Ida” and other versions that are not her name.

Then came the accident.  Through the entire process, and still, my Merida has been unbelievably brave and strong.  A little warrior, future slayer.  (I’ve always wanted to raise a slayer, but that’s another story.)  Swirled in now with all the ambivalence I have about Disney and skewed, commercial images of what girls and women should be, I am now, strangely, okay with the naming of next summer’s princess.  I’ll take it!  If it gives my daughter a little pop culture validation that she is awesome and strong and amazing, who am I to argue?  I told Merida and a friend of hers about the movie, and was quickly convinced to take them both to the theatre next summer.  (It’s a date!  Robbie Coltrane does one of the voices, so it can’t be all bad.)

But next time she’s getting  the monkey underwear.

5 thoughts on “Brave

  1. It has been hard raising Quinn. With my religious background. . .raising him with none at all. Knowing I did benefit from my own upbringing even though I think it was the struggle away from it that was the making of me. What will Quinn struggle against and what will be the shaping of his paradigms? What do we expose our kids to? I think how we talk about it and our verbalized opinions have more to say to our children then what they are exposed to. As for me I’m a Pixar fan, movie fan, and my focus is talking about everything we watch. But since I was a sheltered child myself, secluded from most media until I left home at 17, I must say there are benefits to that route.

  2. Thanks for these ruminations, Nita. I love the way you put it: “Knowing I did benefit from my own upbringing even though I think it was the struggle away from it that was the making of me.”

    I sometimes worry about sheltering Merida too much from media, but she was never a child who would sit still long enough to have viewing even be an option. I think you’re right, though, that how we steer them and talk about things is crucial. Learning to be a thoughtful “consumer” of media is really important. What’s funny is hearing how the media stuff that Merida does come into contact with (mostly through other kids telling stories about movies) work their way into M’s stories, but she has no idea quite what she’s talking about. She talks about Maid Marian and Robin Hood as if they are sometimes people who live in our town, or sometimes she is Maid Marian, or her doll is, or whoever. And so I realize I really need to find that book for her!

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