I stared, mesmerized, as the blade reflected your face, and with one swift motion, you chopped off your silky tresses. Six-year-old me watched you, fighting for your honor and proving yourself to be just as capable, if not more, as a man. It was such a refreshing change from the typical Disney princess story. While I did enjoy playing dress-up, I was already tired of waiting for my prince to come. So “let’s get down to business“; this letter is to thank you for being who you are, for breaking gender norms, and for paving the way for generations of women to come.
“Quiet and demure. Graceful. Polite. Delicate. Refined. Poised. Punctual.” Black ink in graceful swooping characters across your wrist as you tried to remember the hallmarks of the perfect woman. I realize now that each of these characteristics is just another shackle placed on a woman, preventing her from being her true self. She exists merely to cater to every whim and fancy of man.
It was truly awe-inspiring to see the sheer grit you possessed to go against everything you had ever been taught. It takes exceptional courage to stand up for your beliefs. You inspired me to be bold enough to speak my mind without letting the fear of consequences hold me back.
Society consistently portrays men to have better analytical and reasoning skills, while women are said to possess greater emotional intelligence. Your quirky innovations and quick thinking enabled me to recognize that such distinctions are just social constructs. Someone’s sex doesn’t determine their characteristics. I am a woman, and I can be soft yet tough, nurturing yet fierce, and gentle yet dauntless.
It was amusing and relatable to watch your desperate attempts to “man up” in the training camp. I could feel your frustration as you struggled to fit in. Ironically, Ping, your cover, was the perfect example of the facade that women often put up to fit into society. Fighting to prove our worth, trying to accommodate every label society puts on us and living in constant fear of being judged.
At the same time, there were aspects of Mulan that Ping just couldn’t conceal or suppress. The confidence in your abilities, your determination to outlive expectations, and your never-give-up attitude. I look at you, and can’t help thinking that an empowered woman is a lot like a dragon. Strong, wily, and powerful.
“A single man can mean the difference between victory and defeat.” Ironically, the victory against the Huns wouldn’t have been possible without a woman. You were the hero the people needed, but maybe not the one they had in mind.
I want you to know that you truly made an impact on my young, impressionable mind. I wish to make waves in this patriarchal society. Of course, there will be ups and downs, and there might be days where I would lose all faith in my abilities. But what I do know is this; there is “a girl worth fighting for,” and that is me.
You’re the man. Well, sort of. You get my gist.
A woman after your own heart.
Written by Shivangi Acharya for MTTN
Edited by Anushka Das for MTTN
Featured Image by Mithi
Artwork by Society6