They are vain, they are jealous and they are oh, so wonderfully evil. They are Disney villains. Whether they’re trying to gain power, status, or even just the object of their desire, these villains pull out every stop to take control and overthrow the “good guy.” Luckily, as Disney, and life in general would have it, the “good guy” usually wins. The villains are defeated and we walk away with a great story about a hero or heroine. But what about the villain?
Even the most evil villains are not all bad. They may just be terribly misunderstood! Therefore, I propose that Disney villains teach good lessons too. The hero may triumph in the end, but if you are willing to walk in the footsteps of a villain, you may notice the ways they really did some things right. Here’s what I’ve learned from the best of the worst:
1. Have a friend who will always be honest with you — The Evil Queen
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Famous words that roughly translate into modern-day as, “Does this color go with my hair?” For The Evil Queen, she relied on her mirror for self-assurance of her beauty and the power it gave her, but it always spoke the truth. One day, her beauty was outshone by none other than Snow White. Did the mirror tell The Evil Queen that she was still the fairest of them all? If he did, we wouldn’t have a story.
He was honest and let’s face it, we all need a friend like that. If we didn’t have that one friend to tell us we just can’t pull off those high-waisted shorts or bright red lipstick, we would walk lost and unflatteringly into this world.
2. Own your awkward side — The Evil Stepsisters
They are gangly, they are clumsy and they are anything but poised, but they own it. In all of the ways that Cinderella is perfect, her stepsisters are not. Yet, do you ever hear them apologize for it? While other girls dance gracefully at the ball or sing with sweet, soft voices, the Tremaine sisters stumble and squawk their way through life without ever trying to be anything else. Their feet might be big and their temperaments might be childish, but they represent the awkward side that we all have.
Whether we have a terrible singing voice, two left feet, a loud laugh, or a habit of breaking things, those are just things that make us who we are. We can’t all be perfect like Cinderella. Some of us might be Anastasias or Drizellas, but as long as we wear our awkward side proudly, we can truly be ourselves.
3. Never give up on your dream — Captain Hook
As a pirate, Captain Hook could have spent his days pillaging, ravaging and drinking rum and no one would have batted an eye at it. But all he wanted was to defeat Peter Pan. In so many ways, Peter had an advantage over Captain Hook. Along with being the “good guy,” Peter was young, he could fly, and he had already fed Hook’s hand to the crocodile. For so many reasons, Captain Hook could have simply given up and let Pan live out his boyish life, but he didn’t do that. Hook pursued Peter until the day he met the mouth of the crocodile.
We all have dreams and Captain Hook shows us that while things may seem hopeless, we should never give up. You may lose a hand along the way, but fighting for the things we are most passionate about until the day we die is a pretty great way to live.
4. Have a back-up plan — Malificent
With all of her magnificence and power, even Malificent had to plan ahead for her plot to overrun the kingdom. Her curse for the princess to prick her finger on her 16th birthday was a stop to what she saw as a future threat. While the curse did come true, it didn’t happen before she had already stolen the heart of the prince. When Prince Phillip came storming into the castle to rescue Sleeping Beauty, Malificent had to get creative. By becoming a dragon, Malificent showed us that she truly saved her best efforts for last.
There are times in life when things don’t really work out how we have planned, even if we have planned way in advance. Life can twist and turn and we should always be prepared to fight back when that plan is in danger. Whether it is marriage, children, sickness or job loss, having a back-up plan as powerful as a fire-breathing dragon is pretty important. While you may not win in every story, you aren’t going down without a fight.
5. Never settle — Cruella Deville
Sometimes we want things in life but they feel so out of reach we give up, and settle for less than what we’ve dreamed of. Not Cruella. As a lover of fur and everything couture, Cruella always had to have the next best thing. When Dalmatian puppies came into the picture, she knew she needed them, but not just a few, she wrangled up 101 Dalmatians with the dream to turn them into the perfect spotted coat. Although her intentions were plain evil, Cruella is the very embodiment of ‘go big or go home.’ While thankfully those puppies escaped her skinny fingers, her efforts still teach a solid lesson.
We may all have ambitions and goals, but how many of us take the bar and raise it to 101? Cruella is an example that reminds us to shoot for the stars (or spots in this case) and never settle for less.
6. Love your body — Ursula
Out of all of the female Disney villains, Ursula has the most positive body image. She may not be a size zero, like the other villains and heroines, but she’s equally as confident. She is sexy, she is glamorous and she shows of her curves with no apology.
Ursula is iconic for all of us not born with “princess bodies.” While she may be a villain, her comfort and satisfaction with her image shows us that, while we don’t need to be evil, we can choose to love our bodies, no matter the size. But don’t let me tell you. . . Check out this great spoken word poem about Ursula and my inspiration for this article.
Amanda is a mid-20s customer service warrior by day and a passionate, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes feminist blogger by night. She enjoys making people laugh and finds her life guided by lessons she learned from Disney movies. Follow her on her adventures at www.thegirlinmotion.com or on Twitter @Mandiraye.
(Featured images courtesy of Disney)