I WAS GOING TO PUT THIS IN THE TAGS, BUT HOLY SHIT I HAVE JUST SEEN THE METAPHOR!!
There was a calm moment of “…Wait. Did she just metaphorically pick up masculinity and leave femininity behind in its place?” And I was impressed with that symbolism.
But then the metaphor got better. Because here, Mulan is swapping one for the other. Yet, by the end, when she comes home at the end, her father tucks the flower behind her ear and then her man shows up with the helmet— BECAUSE MULAN IS AWESOME AND KICK ASS AND SHE HAS BOTH FEMININITY AND MASCULINITY AND BEING COMPLETELY ONE OR THE OTHER TOTALLY DOESN’T SUIT HER.
“I’ve heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan. You stole your father’s armor, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your commanding officer, dishonored the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace, and… you have saved us all.”