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Brave The Movie: Why The New Disney Princess Is Good News For Boys

23/08/2012 09:38 | Updated 22 May 2015
Brave the movie: Why the new Disney princess is good news for boys Rex

For the first time since I watched Bambi some 30 years ago, I recently found myself weeping into my popcorn all over again whilst watching another children's film.

Now I've often felt close to tears whilst watching soul-sapping films for kids (Top Cat, anyone?!) but this was a different sort of crying altogether, and a film in a different league to anything I've watched since I became a mother almost eight years ago.

And with two sons aged five and seven and a local cinema that slashes ticket prices once a week, I've wasted many, many hours of my life watching films aimed at kids which make adults lose the will to live.

So when we watched Brave as a family last week, I'd braced myself for the possibility of yet more nonsense, which my kids might unthinkingly adore but which would leave me questioning the moral integrity of continually subjecting them to celluloid dross.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Merida burst onto the screen with her crazy curls, single-handedly heralding a new dawn for Disney princesses and righting the wrongs of the way females are portrayed in children's films.

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Merida rewrites the rule book on what it takes to be a princess. And it's so much more than long locks and a vacancy in her life for a hunky knight in shining armour.

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We didn't watch the film in 3D but frankly there was no need - unlike so many characters in children's films, Merida is perfectly three-dimensional without the aid of digital trickery.

But this isn't just hormonal gushiness from the only female in an all-male household. I love this film because in Merida, at long last, we finally have a Disney Princess to be proud of - and that's good news for boys. Yes, boys.

Obviously it's also great for girls, whose own mother-daughter battles are captured so well in the film, and who are finally presented with a princess worth living up to.

But it's brilliant for boys who are growing up in a a world where Lynx adverts are still the prevailing popular message about both what it means to be a boy, and how girls should be viewed. (I winced my way through one such ad before the film begin, and had to sit on my hands to stop myself from trying to cover my sons' impressionable eyes.)

It's refreshing for my boys to see me identifying with an assertive, inspiring version of the fairer sex. Merida is an expertly drawn balance of strength and femininity - she doesn't dismiss love or the place of a man in her life altogether, but asserts her right to find those things her way, and in her own time.

She's skilled in archery - way better than the feckless princes, no less. She's a feisty redhead instead of a demure blonde and she refuses to be content with a predictable happy-ever-after that relies on a prince to sweep her off her feet. What's more, she makes mistakes and bad choices - and admits them, with powerful consequences.

In short, she's everything any kid - boy or girl - can aspire to. And unlike the females in the Lynx adverts, she's the kind of girl I'd happily welcome, should my little princes ever bring a princess home to meet their mother.

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