Heroism is defined by the dictionary in terms of bravery, fearlessness, courage, valor, audacity…but what strikes me about all those words is to have it one must begin by having a deep, heartfelt belief in something. And the expression of that belief is the manifestation of integrity.
I recently watched Snow White and the Huntsman, a fresh and more adult version of the classic Disney icon Snow White. The transformation of a princess included a complete makeover, which on the surface included a change in style and image from beautiful, maternal, sweet, innocent, caretaker to beautiful, tough, gritty, fearless, courageous, warrior. But even more important was the change in her character.
In both stories the Queen is all powerful, and seeking to maintain control at any cost, with minions who do her bidding or die if they fail. In “old” Disney, our princess is lost and finds purpose in the caretaking of the dwarfs, and is rescued by true love’s kiss, living happily ever after. In the modern version, she escapes prison, takes on a cause, inspires faith in the cause, and becomes the cause, it lives and breathes as one with her…true love’s kiss is not the answer, but a reminder of her virtues, why we all love her…she lives with integrity, and the kingdom lives happily ever after…that was a mouthful.
Arguably, both princesses have integrity, live their truth, but only the modern princess combines it with heroism. Making bold moves, using her integrity to move through her fears and find her confidence.
Maybe we can take a page from this version of the fairytale and apply it to women who are looking to change the conversation about living a complete life without fear, or guilt. We have been living shackled inside our own Evil Queens tower. Time to break free, and speak from the heart. We know today, that it is difficult to live with integrity when our employers ask us to compromise on our values, expecting us to sacrifice family/community to work. Or vice versa, our families/communities demands have us sacrifice careers that we have worked hard to aspire to and feel proud of. Many of us believe this does not have to be win/lose. We are not afraid to make a bold step, we demand to be taken seriously. I advocate that if you have integrity, and you want to live your truth, even if you stumble it’s worth taking that step.
Disney’s makeover of its fictional princesses to be bold, fearless virtuous leaders is a sign of the times. If we want to teach our daughters to become virtuous leaders, then it’s time those role models are not fictional.