Yesterday, My dear friend Megan and her 2 year old daughter, Ivy, invited me along to see the newest tour-de-force from Walt Disney, Frozen. As a feminist, I can’t watch princess movies without attempting to have a critical and educational conversation with the young lady loves in my life, and trust me attempting to explain patriarchy to a 6 year old is exhausting. However I had heard that Frozen was a different breed of the “Disney Princess” movie, so I was excited to check it out.
I’m not here to say that Frozen was the answer to our feminist cries to Disney, because I don’t think it quite made it there. There are zero characters of color and despite the plot, the movie still ends with a heteronormative romantic happy ending. However I’m not one to dwell on the negative, so with that being said, I enjoyed the movie a lot. It was funny, and heartwarming, I laughed and cried and got catchy songs stuck in my head. It was everything you expect from a Disney movie, and then some. I actually left the theater a little wiser, and Disney created two new role models that I can really stand behind.
Frozen isn’t just available to teach young girls to grow up strong, confident and loyal to their girl team, but it serves as a reminder for all women. So with that being said, if you don't like the songs and the beautiful animation, or if you’re mad about the films adaption of The Snow Queen or the lack of POC in the film, at least take these lessons out of the theater with you.
It’s very classic Disney to create a movie about two princess sisters, right? Well, yes, but in most Disney story templates one sister would become jealous of the other, and in turn become the villain. Frozen tells the story of two sisters who love one another unconditionally, separated not by jealousy or competition, but by fear of hurting each other. Despite years and years of separation, when reunited they still would do anything for the other. And in the end, it’s the true love they have for one another that saves them.
There are all types of sisters. Whether it be your actual birth sister, a friend you have had since childhood, or the girl next to you in line for the bathroom, we all need each other. I’m a firm believer in the power of sisterhood. I think women are the most incredible support system you will ever have. Unfortunately, society makes it entirely too hard for us women to become sisters. We are brainwashed into thinking we are each others competition, that we can’t get along, forced to judge each other and put each other down to make ourselves feel better. The truth is, we don’t live in Arendelle. We don’t live in a world where a princess would be named queen without talk of who and when she is going to marry, or how many sons she will have. In real life, the world is out to get us and we need each other just like Elsa needed Anna. The sisters' bond is the driving force of Frozen, and the climactic “true love’s sacrifice” is not made by (of for) a man, but is an act between the two sisters. Sometimes there is nothing stronger and nothing you need more than the love you have with your sisters.
We all have the things about ourselves that we hate and try to hide. Whether it’s your scary snow queen powers or your sexual orientation, so many of us live in fear terrified to reveal who we really are. Elsa’s power can be analogous of anything we as individuals hide from the world. Living in isolation, Elsa begins to think of herself like a monster. She is so fearful of exposing her real self to the world, she would rather shut it all out and be miserable. This, my friends, is a lesson we all need to learn. When Elsa accidentally reveals her powers, she finds such happiness in having the freedom to be who she is. With the gay rights movement progressing, and the anti-bullying campaign growing day after day, this is such an important part of this movie. We cannot teach anyone to hide who they are any longer. That goes so much further. Women are repeatedly gaslighted throughout society, told our feelings are irrational, that we are “crazy”. Human beings are such evolved animals, we have complex emotions and no one should have to hide their themselves or their feelings for fear of scrutiny.
“Don't let them in, don't let them see /
Be the good girl you always have to be /
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know /
Well, now they know”
For years and years, Disney has set the golden standard for fairy tale endings. Princess meets prince, they fall in love instantly and everything is happily ever after. Well, Frozen damn near takes an ice pick to that idea. We all know that love is much more complicated than what Disney portrays, and we didn’t need Frozen to make a mockery out of princesses agreeing to marry a prince the day they met for us. But I’m so glad that it did. In the film Princess Anna meets a handsome prince, who she falls in love with through the course of one of the films songs, and agrees to marry him after 4 minutes. What is different about Frozen, is that every other character in the film is like “Uh, you got engaged to a guy after knowing him for only one day?!” Thank you Frozen, for that. It’s especially so perfect since the prince turns out to be the villain, like most of our first day loves do. I know so many women, myself included, that have fallen for the lies our love interests tell us. It’s a battle field and it’s rare and hard to find someone who will love us like we deserve. I may be in a cynical point of my life, but love really is blind and Frozen has attempted to show that. Even as women in our mid-twenties, we so often view love on these blind assumptions based on, well, the fairytale trope about the handsome prince. Frozen not only shows us that even princesses get their hearts broken, but that it’s not the princes who we will need in the end.
“I don't even know what love is.”
“That's okay. I do. Love is putting someone else's needs before yours”