...For most of the movie, Mulan has felt out of place. She doesn’t know where she fits in. Covering herself in femininity doesn’t work, like, at all. The scene of the matchmaker…I don’t even have to explain to show you how much that is not her. But then she runs away and poses as a man. She tries her hardest to blend in and be a guy, but at the same time, covering herself in the masculine just doesn’t work. She’s still awkward and out of place. The men eventually embrace her as one of their own, see her as a guy, but they see her as a strange guy, a very effeminate man. But this scene, this final part of the movie, she has finally found her place. She is short haired (masculine) and wearing a woman’s outfit. She has found her place as a tomboy, somewhere in the middle of extremes.
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From left to right: Jasmine from Aladdin (15), Pocahontas (18), Cinderella (19), Mulan (16), Tiana from The Princess and the Frog (19), Ariel from The Little Mermaid (16), Rapunzel from Tangled (18), Belle from Beauty and the Beast (17), Aurora from Sleeping Beauty (16), Snow White (14).
All ages found @Disney Wikia
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I was in the Disney store at the mall yesterday and as usual I gaze at all of the merchandise for my favorite character, Mulan. But as usual, I see her featured exclusively in this particular outfit, her “matchmaking” clothes. It actually frustrates me a bit to see her constantly marketed and commodified in this outfit because it’s the outfit that she feels least comfortable with wearing and the one which embodies everything about her journey that she’s trying to leave behind. But of course, because it’s the most “princess-like” and the most feminine, it has to be the outfit that is sold, as if it’s supposed to be her most iconic look. Not only that, but she’s in these clothes for maybe fifteen minutes at most, and only in the beginning. There should be dolls and representations of her in her training uniform, in her soldier’s armor, in short hair, in any of the several other outfits in the movie that better illustrate who Mulan is.
The merchandise intentionally plays down Mulan’s heroic journey in order for her to conform to the “princess” label. Merchandizing her in only this outfit inadvertently erasing all of Mulan’s heroic qualities rather than allow her to stick out amongst the “Disney princesses” to show a more well-rounded group of women.