Mother Does NOT Know Best

My almost five-year-old is utterly obsessed with the music from Tangled. We listen to the CD in the car on constant repeat and last night, she gave me the lyrics booklet and had me do a half-hour long concert while we colored a picture of Rapunzel. (I think I had more fun than her. I was belting those songs out.)

During her The Little Mermaid phase, my daughter was obsessed with Ursula. Right now, she loves listening to Mother Gothel sing “Mother Knows Best.”

I find this interest in villains utterly adorable and “Mother Knows Best” is an insanely catchy song. (It was my power ballad last night.)



There’s one line near the end of the song, when Mother Gother is basically using classic abuser tactics to convince Rapunzel that staying in her tower is the only solution. She lists all the dangers in the world, then insults and demeans Rapunzel, saying she’s not strong enough to make it on her own.

“Take it from your mumsy
On your own, you won’t survive
Sloppy, underdressed
Immature, clumsy
Please, they’ll eat you up alive.”

Then she says her pièce de résistance, the last part of her argument, the insult to really drive her point home:

“Plus, I believe
Gettin’ kinda chubby.”


OH! OF COURSE! Girls shouldn’t go out into the world if they’re chubby. That would be awful. People would hate that. That’s more dangerous than those ruffians and thugs that Mother Gothel warned Rapunzel about. Being chubby is worse than the plague!

Our society makes it feel that way sometimes, though. It makes us feel like we can’t do anything until we’re our “best selves,” when really, we’re already our best selves. We just have to realize it, free of the trappings of diet ads and “love your body, but only when…” messages.

“Gettin’ kinda chubby” isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t a death sentence. Rapunzel–and everyone–should be able to explore the world and see the lanterns regardless of what she looks like. (Although a haircut would make things a bit easier).

Yes, I know Mother Gothel is supposed to be the villain. That if she says something like that, it’s supposed to be a “bad thing,” something viewers should know that “bad people” say. But what if viewers don’t pick up on this? What if they don’t analyze media the way I do? I hate that my daughters or other kids could hear this song and think that being chubby is a fate worse than the plague.

Being chubby shouldn’t be used as an insult or as a reason to stay locked inside a tower. It’s a state of being. It’s a way bodies can look. It’s not good and it’s not bad. It just is.

It’s just beautiful.

Can’t the world just see the light already?



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