More important than a travel update right now, I think, is why we should all agree that Nala is the best Disney Princess.
(um, yes, princess. Her father is Mufassa, and Mufassa is a king. If you have any objections to this [incest?!?] please consult the animal kingdom.)
As fore mentioned, I spent Saturday night less than sober with four hostel friends watching The Lion King. There was laughter, there were tears, there was much singing, and miraculously no spillage. (I did, however, make a hot mess of my toe nail painting job.)
It was in this slurring state I started explaining the virtues of the lioness’s character to my SUPER interested hostel mates.
“You guys,” I pleaded. “She is the best role model!”
I’m being completely serious here. Put the fact that Nala is a fictional cartoon lion out of your mind and bear with me. The comparability between Nala’s character and that of the famed Proverbs 31 woman are everywhere. You just have to look for them.
Starting from childhood, Nala’s relationship with Simba is not only playful but encouraging. Remember when they get busted for checking out the elephant graveyard? Simba is quite clearly distraught over it. Nala whispers, “I thought you were very brave”.
This sort of thing characterizes the two of them, and I can’t think of a more important job a woman can do for her husband. If a man can’t go home and feel safe and respected by his wife, where is he supposed to go to find rest? The world is cruel, harsh at best; a man’s home ought not be.
“She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”
Nala is loyal. When she meets Simba as an adult it is because she left her home and family in search of help. (Which is another cool thing about Nala; she has no false pride keeping her from asking for help. Being female in our culture is an interesting thing; we’re told we can be anything, but what is implied is that we must do everything, and you are weak if you need someone to help you along. But I digress…) Now, at this point, Nala could have chosen something very different than what she did. Think of it; she was young, had finally found the love of her life, and they were in paradise. She could easily have taken the easy way out and stayed with Simba and his oddball friends in this Eden-like country.
I like to think it was not only the loyalty to the pride that kept her from checking out; I like to think her affections for Simba’s mother, Sarabi, kept her head where it ought to be. The bible story of Ruth and Naomi depicts this sort of friendship between women. Ruth had married Naomi’s son, who then died very young. Naomi was a widow herself (as was Sarabi in The Lion King) and lost everything in the death of her sons. She urged their widows to leave her and find new husbands, but Ruth “clung” to her. Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law even though life with her would be impoverished and difficult. I love that! There’s a lyric in a song that talks about the love of God being “fiercer than the love between friends” and the line has always stuck with me. Good friends do truly love each other with a fierceness that is only matched (and raised) by the love of God.
:15 “She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.”
:17 “She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.”
Another similarity between the story of Ruth and the story of Nala is the…well, uniquely feminine ways they get the men in question to buck up and do something noble. If you’ve ever read the story of Ruth, you’ve probably scratched your head a bit when you get to the part where Ruth waits till Boaz is “in high spirits” from alcohol and creeps into his bed. Nbd. That’s in the bible. You’re reading it going, “is that a cultural thing? Did young unmarried women often sleep at the foot of drunk guys’ beds? Is that a thing?”
(The story stays clean. Boaz is startled, asks what Ruth is up to, and then promises to marry her. Success!)
This is not unlike the reunion of Simba and Nala. Can you feel the love? Cuz Simba could feel the love.
I love this scene too because Nala is such a badass, and it’s refreshing to see she can be that and undeniably feminine. She’s beautiful! Simba is captivated by her.
Oh yes. Nala being a badass.
This girl can hold her own. From the very beginning Nala is not only game for every crazy thing Simba throws her way, but she can pin him in a wrestling match and is credited with the idea of how to lose Zazu. Brains and brawns. Fast-forward an adolescence in lion years and the girl is inches from killing a warthog! A warthog! With tusks! (I know, Pumba isn’t that intimidating in this particular scene, but remember, he wrecked those hyenas toward the end of the movie. Kid could mess you up.) Nala is then attacked by an adult male lion (Simba! Woot woot!) and is a BEAST. She almost claws his eyes out. And who knows where the fight would have gone if Simba hadn’t said her name at the crucial moment…that crucial moment being Nala’s pinning him underneath her. Yeah girl. Get it.
I don’t know a single girl who doesn’t entertain fantasies of kicking a deserving guy’s ass.
I don’t know a single guy who doesn’t find ass-kicking girls attractive.
This has nothing to do with the bible, it’s just awesome.
Nala is tough as nails and not just physically. Simba left home guilt-wracked and mourning, and has lived a life of carefree leisure and bumming around. He isn’t about to take up responsibility on a whim. Why would he? He’d have to relive the day his father was murdered AND grow up. Enter Nala, who urges him; regardless of how he feels about it, that’s his duty. The bad guys have taken over the kingdom and his family is starving under the oppression. He is the only hope.
I love this scene, because Simba gets so frustrated and flighty and because Nala doesn’t let him off the hook. I love it too, because the whole time she is trying to get him to communicate with her and he just can’t be bothered to try. (Men!)
He pulls the whole “stop patronizing me, lighten up, you sound like my father” thing and she counters with “good. At least one of us does.”
At this point our hostel resounded with “ooh” and “ouch” and “Simba, would you like some ice for that wicked burn?!?”
This obviously distresses the responsibility-skirting king and he storms off. But he can’t get her words out of his head, can he? And do you think he would have gone back, ever, if it hadn’t been for Nala’s tough reminder?
:26 “She speaks with wisdom
And faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
The most poignant thing that sticks out to me is Nala’s belief in something bigger than herself, as opposed to, say, Ariel, who is bored.
Nala is dedicated to the good of her family and the kingdom. She cares about the whole circle of life, not just her immediate desires or needs. She is prepared to lose her life for the greater good.
And don’t lets forget, Nala is heaps of fun.
I found out that Nala means “gift” in Swahili. I can’t think of a better description of what she is to Simba. Simba was a born adventurer and leader in his own right, but note that he didn’t want to adventure alone (he brings Nala with him to the elephant graveyard) and it doesn’t look like he would have taken his place as king without the inspiration of Nala. He loves her for it.
So there you go; here’s to women being fierce, loyal, selfless and feminine, and here’s to wives being a gift to their husbands.