It’s been 26 years TODAY since Ariel (and The Little Mermaid) swam into our lives and hearts. For a lot of people Ariel represents just another Disney movie where the princess just wants a prince. Anyone who’s met me, and probably many people who haven’t (I have a mermaid sticker on the back of my car), knows I love Ariel and The Little Mermaid. If I see something in a store with Ariel on it or even regular mermaids, I want it. People often ask me why I like Ariel. This is a complicated and confusing question which I will finally try to answer. Here’s why she has endured:
She’s a MERMAID. I mean, come on, this is easy. She lives in the sea with all manner of various cool sea things. The oceans represent the last frontier. We’ve explored everything else on this planet and the depths of the ocean represent the last mystery we have to discover. Plus, my fear of sharks is outweighed by my desire to swim and explore. I was never as concerned with the fact that Ariel was a princess; after all she was a mermaid and that was all I needed to love her.
She Has Her Own Dreams
Ariel is one of the few princesses with true agency throughout her story. She has dreams outside of wanting a prince or being saved from a monster. Despite losing her voice, we always know who Ariel is. Eric is only the second prince to get a name, and even has scenes that don’t revolve around Ariel. It has always been strange to me the way people sum up TLM by saying, “She gives up everything for a guy she’s never spoken to.” This is true, but people forget that she wanted to go “above” before she laid eyes on Eric.
She’s Not “Normal”
Ariel isn’t your average princess.
- She’s weird
- She’s a redhead
- She brushes her hair with a fork
- She’s friends with a crab
- She thinks a torn sail is the height of fashion
- She wants to play with puppets
- She’s a terrible wagon driver
She has a beautiful dress, but likes playing in the bath just as much as dressing up. Ariel is more than her beautiful singing voice, and even when she can’t speak she still says a lot. She has three days to win over this guy, but she doesn’t moon over him begging him to love her. She never stops being who she is. Let’s not forget she is also beautiful, and ultimately she doesn’t act like a princess because she wouldn’t know how to.
She Suffered For Her Happiness
Ariel also suffered for her happiness. I know this sounds weird, but it’s always been really important to me that Ariel hurt a little before she got what she wanted. Going from human to mermaid and back again was not an easy journey. As an adult it’s even more important that the good things weren’t just handed to her. It reminds me that sometimes bad things happen before good things.
Prince Eric = Hunk With A Heart
Her taste in men is SPECTACULAR. Honestly, if Eric isn’t your favorite Disney prince you should probably reevaluate your life. One of my favorite moments of TLM is when Eric realizes he almost marries an octopus. Eric should know that Ariel is the one who saved him, but he was confused from almost drowning, and then he met a mute girl and was like “I dreamed it.” BUT he was halfway in love with her when Vanessa/Ursula came on scene and spelled him. Even before that he was kind to her. He didn’t take advantage of her or try to get rid of her, and when he realizes what he’s done, he won’t stop until he gets her back. And that is beautiful.
She’s fallible. I think it’s important to note that Ariel is 16. We can all remember what it was like to be 16 and just need something so bad or you’ll die. I’ve run away from home multiple times—granted, I never gave away my legs or voice and I never got very far—but it’s not as crazy as it seems. Ariel knows that what Ursula is asking her is crazy and that it’s probably a bad idea, but she wants to go above so bad, she wants to meet Eric, she wants to dance, and see everything. So she signs, but she knows this is probably dangerous. You can see it on her face.
I’ve loved Ariel for as long as I can remember. I owe this obsession to my sister. Ariel was her spirit animal. She had towels, sheets, games, and dolls, and when I became obsessed (because she made us watch it a million times) she decided she didn’t want to share. So instead of forcing me to get my own princess, she abandoned her love of Ariel and picked a new princess. I’ll be honest: It worked out pretty well for me because I inherited all her merchandise. It started with some sheets, but now I take Ariel with me everywhere because I love her story, her struggle, and her love.
Tell us the reasons you love Ariel and The Little Mermaid and tweet us @litdarling. Now I’m off to watch it!