Why Moana Is The Role Model Little Girls Need Now More Than Ever

by Jessica Ariel Wendroff

"To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to achieve your own dreams," assured Hillary Clinton in her concession speech this November. Disney's newest film, Moana, is an hour and fifty-three minute echo of Clinton's catalyst message. This year we may not have gotten our first female president, but we were given something else — a woman role model who never backs down. Clinton won't be caught waving a white flag, and you can expect to see the same relentless behavior performed in Disney's Moana. Little girls are probably too young to realize this, but Moana is the role model they need now more than ever.

The 16-year-old epitomizes everything a strong, independent woman should be. Moana is brave, focused — on goals instead of guys — and very family-oriented. She dreams of making her way past the reef and voyaging. The water calls to her like Hercules was drawn to the stars. And in The Lion King fashion, she always remembers who she is, and what she strives to accomplish. By never losing sight of her mission, she is able to harvest the inner-strength needed to complete it.

"She doesn't dwell on failure, she learns from her mistakes and uses them as a framework to move forward."

She might not have the upper-body strength or muscles of demigod, Maui, but she doesn't need them. Through deductive reasoning, like inspecting Maui's tattoos, Moana discovers how to motivate the trickster. Knowing what rallies someone is the stuff that leaders are made of. Her clever mind also comes up with a bioluminescent diversion that helps save her and her comrade's life.

Also in the film, Moana potentially sacrifices herself for her family and island, similar to Pocahontas when she tried to unite the settlers with her tribe. Moments like this demonstrate the generosity of her spirit, along with her selflessness.

One of the biggest feminist themes in the film is how Moana doesn't need the strength of a man to succeed in her goal. The teen saves her island like Mulan saved China sans Prince Charming. She leans on uncle-like Maui for assistance from time to time, but she by no means needs him. Ultimately it is Moana who makes her own decisions, and designs her own destiny.

Moana risks her life in order to save her people, knowing that her father's best friend died at sea. This action isn't shocking considering Moana was fearless ever since she could walk. While her grandma Tala tells the legend of Maui, and the stolen heart of goddess, Tafiti, she claps while other kids tremble in fear. And when she's finally old enough to become a part of the legend, she takes on the ocean solo, with very little help from HeiHei.

Moana is so determined, it's as though she's a robot programmed to succeed. Like Walt Disney once said, "it's kind of fun to do the impossible." Moana acts this quote out throughout her movie. No matter how many times she crash lands onto an island, or is beaten down, she always gets up again. She doesn't dwell on failure, she learns from her mistakes and uses them as a framework to move forward. This is an attitude little girls would do well to adopt, and adults would benefit to relearn.