If you don’t know who Moana is, you need to stop what you’re doing and acquaint yourself with her.
Moana is the hero every kid – not just every girl – needs. She is the epitome of girl-power and capitalises on women’s ability to succeed in life without relying on romance.
It’s vital for girls to see what they can achieve. It’s equally important for boys to see it too – see that girl’s are not inferior to them, but in fact heroes in any way boys can be.
She kicks butt
Moana totally encapsulates that whole strong female thing. She spends her life wanting to go beyond the island and its reef and there’s no way anybody can keep her from getting there. So when the time comes for her to leave her island and journey into the ocean, she does it on her own (except for her stowaway chicken, Hei Hei).
She finds Maui, a cocky demigod, and basically drags him by the ear onto her adventure to save her people from a darkness swallowing up the islands. Despite Maui’s attempts to ditch her, Moana and the ocean work together to lock him in for the ride. Moana spends a good chunk of the movie believing that Maui is essential for her success, which proves to be completely incorrect.
Moana is everything but a damsel in distress. She calls the shots, leads those around her and is just totally awesome.
Zero love interests
This is pretty new in the land of Disney movies. We’re all indoctrinated to believe that Disney princesses need their Prince Charming to reach optimal life satisfaction. Well Moana, daughter of the village Chief, doesn’t have a bar of that.
There is never any indication that she will pursue any romances. Even though her demigod travel companion is male, there is absolutely no suggestion of romance there.
We just love that Moana is lined up to be the next Chief and her parents never once even question impending marriages. She can lead on her own, if that’s what she chooses to do.
Self discovery is everywhere
So many characters go on a journey of self discovery and each of their stories is a lesson for us all.
Moana obviously undergoes massive changes within herself. The most empowering and hair-raising part, though, is when she sings at the top of her lungs that the “call [of the ocean] isn’t out there at all, it’s inside [her]”. All her life she believed the ocean called to her. What she didn’t realise, though, was that it was something within her, programmed into everything she is. If that part doesn’t give you goosebumps, you’re not human.
She returns to her island, but continues to journey out beyond the reef. She embraces every facet of her identity – loves her family, needs to journey into the ocean, wants to lead her people.
Through Maui, we see a demigod that shares so much with us mere mortals. His weakness is that he believes part of him is his hook, which he uses to shape-shift. When he decides he’s willing to sacrifice his hook to save Moana, he shows that he truly has changed. He sees that who is he is within him.
“Well, hook, no hook, I’m Maui.”
And the most powerful of all is Te Kā realising she is actually Te Fiti. Once Te Fiti’s heart is stolen she becomes this huge fiery lava monster. Moana, in all of her sing-song wisdom reminds Te Kā,
“This is not who you are – you know who you are.”
Moana restores Te Fiti’s heart and the scary villain transforms back into the beautiful, green goddess that can create life. There’s this message that no matter how fired up we get, our goodness is still within. Sometimes not even we can remember who we are, but it’s still there. No one is beyond redemption.
Kids need to see these lessons
As much as we like to think that our stories resonate with our children, at the end of the day, sometimes those same lessons need to be injected into them through a Disney movie.
Kids need to learn to embrace who they are. Moana shows them this. They need to see that they don’t need to rely on others to make them truly happy – they are the source of their own happiness. Moana shows them this, too. And no matter how far of the rails they may go, they can still return to their roots. You guessed it, Moana definitely showcases this.
Moana defies the concept that girls are helpless and rely on males for guidance, happiness and success. Girls rule and pave their own paths – just like boys.