"I used to love Mulan when I was younger. Now that I’m older all I can think about is how the only reason she was able to accomplish anything was because she dressed as a man. I don’t really think that makes her a good role model, when there are so many women in history who accomplished equally as impressive things, just as women"
Disney actually had to accentuate the adversity Mulan faced in order for there to be more drama. The historical Hua Mulan, upon being revealed to be a woman following an injury in battle…was accepted immediately. Regardless of her gender, she was one of their best soldiers and they weren’t exactly in a position to be questioning her skills. They basically shrugged it off and asked her to recover as soon as possible so she could get back to killing Huns for China. And she said okay. And she did.
End of story.
But ‘oh you’re a woman? Okay. You’re still the best soldier here so, like, whatever.’ isn’t a very dramatic way of ending the story for Mulan. It was an example of real history not being very realistic in the sense that in China, where women were ordinarily dictated as only useful as wives or mothers, subservient to men, Mulan was readily and immediately accepted in battle as a capable soldier with no issues whatsoever. Disney actually had to ENHANCE all her troubles to make the story seem more realistic.
The historical Mulan had an EASIER time than the Disney Mulan did, but if they’d done the story exactly as it happened, everyone would complain that it was a cop out of a dramatic story. Because frankly, it is kind of anticlimactic. Real life doesn’t usually try to build up to anything and drops the ball often.
And in case we’ve somehow forgotten, she was a woman the entirety of the climax, which included her leading her fellow soldiers (all men and including Shang!), saving the Emperor and a hell of a lot of Chinese citizens, and ultimately defeating the Huns. All while wearing a dress.