AKA: It’s about time, Disney!
I wasn’t raised on Disney princesses and fairy tales like most girls my age were. The Disney movies I watched and adored were “Fox and the Hound” and “Robin Hood”, the awesome one with the foxes and the most amazing soundtrack, that I still know every word to.
So I guess I was a bit of a skeptic when I finally did start watching the Disney movies with the princesses. Maybe I was too old and the “magic” wasn’t there for me. But they bothered me. The women all seemed to just be so flighty and shallow, singing and not really aware of what was going on around them. And the role of men in the movies bothered me, too. The women didn’t know anything about these men, and would immediately fall for them and then live “happily ever after”. Most of the time, all it took for the men to win the princess over was to merely show up.
A quick recap of Disney Princesses:
Snow White (1937) Another woman is threatened by her physical beauty, so she is killed. She is saved by a man because of this beauty. Her beauty is her worth.
Cinderella (1950) Hard-working girl who is abused by her Stepmother and Stepsisters, who is saved from her terrible living conditions by a man because of her beauty. Her beauty is her worth.
Sleeping Beauty (1959) Betrothed at birth to establish a political position, and then a jealous woman (see a pattern?) has her killed and the only thing that can save her is her fiance’s kiss. Her beauty and her sexual desirability are her worth.
The Little Mermaid (1989) Changes everything about herself and gives up her ability to speak to be with a man who has done nothing for her. Her beauty is her worth, so much so that she makes other sacrifices to keep this.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) Gives up her life to make a sacrifice for her family (sweet), is then held hostage by a cruel beast who she then saves with her beauty and sexuality. Her beauty and her sexual desirability are her worth.
Aladdin (1992) The princess must get married according to the law, and her lack of interest in this infuriates her family. She is enslaved by a powerful man, and saved by a street rat. Her beauty is her worth, and she is not intellectually able to stand up for herself.
And yes, I get it, these are all stories and made for entertainment and most entertainment conveys wrong messages, especially to women, about society’s expectation of them, what their expectations can be of themselves, and what they can expect from a man. I get that. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have any affect on the girls that are consuming them.
Disney has released some movies since that portray women in stronger roles, like “Brave” and “Mulan”, but they weren’t “Princess” movies.
My Top Ten Reasons I love Frozen:
1.) A relationship didn’t work out.
The history of Disney princesses is them being weak or voiceless, nothing more than a beautiful face. When Anna in “Frozen” meets the prince at the party, I immediately thought “here we go again…” at the idea of people immediately meeting and falling in love and then planning to spend forever together after they merely shared one evening, chocolate fondue, and a song.
The reality is that most relationships don’t work out. Let’s be done with this happily ever after notion.
2.) The idea of falling in love with someone that you don’t know is pointed out as ridiculous.
Thanks, Elsa. Good call.
3.) Men need women, too… and we can save each other.
Princess Anna and Kristoff have multiple exchanges in which they both relied on each other. Anna saved Kristoff when he was going off the cliff, and saved him when they were being chased by the wolves. Neither of them are incapable individuals, but they are better when they are together. What a lovely idea!
4.) Being single and on your own can be empowering.
When Elsa’s power is eventually discovered, she runs away. When she is finally on her own, she finds beauty in herself. Elsa sings the famous “Let It Go” after realizing that she is good enough for herself, and that’s all that really matters. YES. Single women who are desperately seeking men- pay attention! Women can stand on their own two feet and be happy and self aware.
5.) Not everyone is “evil”.
“Frozen” doesn’t have a typical villain like in all other Disney princess stories. Instead, the “villain” is a heroine. We see things from Elsa’s perspective, in which she was isolated because of her magical powers, but once she comes to terms with them she is fine.
6.) Family drama.
Anyone who has a sister or a family knows that this type of drama to deal with is often much more monumental than dealing with a boy, or a “villain”, or some other unforeseen source. It is easy to relate to. And even though Elsa began shunning Anna because of her parents orders, younger siblings often find that someone grows up and doesn’t want to play with them anymore.
Elsa was abused by the isolation her parents placed on her, even though they meant it for her own protection. This also brings an interesting concept of sometimes people who love you hurt you, because they think they are doing what is best for you. Through and through, good, real family drama.
7.) True love story is about family reconciliation.
It’s not Anna and Prince Hans. It’s not Anna and Kristoff. It’s not the cute, gay family in the sauna. It’s Anna and Elsa, sisters, finally reconciling.
8.) Not all men are idiots.
The men in Disney princess movies have not been a very good lot, either. Poor representation on their part in that they either just show up, as mentioned before, kiss the girl, or do some simple act that will then have her swooning for him.
In some movies that have strong female characters, it then makes the men these silly, wimpy dudes who are helpless and stupid. Kristoff is a wonderful example of a good man. He spends the movie surrounded by strong women, but he is not intimidated or controlled by them.
Kristoff seems to understand that recognizing a woman’s strength does not diminish his own strength.
He and Anna act in partnership, not as a competitor or a doormat.
9.) He asked before he kissed.
Kristoff asked Anna before he kissed her. He did not kiss her until she agreed. And while yes, unexpected kisses can be very wonderful… after you are in a relationship with someone or you are 100% sure that the other person shares the sentiment. This alleviates that awkward, fast head turn that lands men on cheeks and ears or hair. Ew. Ask!
This is also nice after so many Disney princesses were kissed while they were unconscious… just saying.
10.) Women are not useless. Women can think on their own two feet. Women are capable of great strength.
This story is about growing up, becoming your own person, and learning not to be ashamed of yourself. And it showcases smart, strong women to do so.
What a great movie for all genders.