Okay — if you haven’t watched Disney’s Frozen yet, you may not want to read this post because in order to write about just how happy I am with Disney’s message for little girls in this movie there must be some spoilers. If you want to continue reading, be my guest. Consider yourself properly warned though.
I was thoroughly disappointed in Disney last spring when they announced that Merida was going to be included as an official Disney princess. Disappointed that this fiery redhead with a mind of her own, who is not interested in romantic love and more interested in riding around on her horse shooting her bow and arrow gets recognized? Trust me — it wasn’t about her character. I love Merida! I love the fact that the love story in Brave is all about loving yourself and the bond between mother and daughter (hello, melt my heart).
I was disappointed because Disney decided that the quirky Merida needed a makeover to fit in with the other princesses. Despite such a positive message the movie Brave has, Disney succumbed to the pressures of body image and perceptions of what makes a woman attractive in our culture. This is definitely NOT the message I wanted my little girls to pick up on, subtle as it may be for kids — it still seeps in.
Our society is too wrapped up in body image. Case in point as I listened to my oldest child whisper in my ear when she was only five years old that her three-year old sister was fat. That broke my heart and we had a long discussion about how everyone has different bodies and we need to love each other just the way we are made. She has never said it since and I hope she’s long forgotten that moment, but it is seared in my memory. I’ve dealt with body image issues all my life, never being happy with the way I looked, even when I starved myself thin back in the day. The last thing I want for my children is to carry that burden, too.
Disney’s lame excuse didn’t hold up as to why they were changing Merida’s appearance and an online petition went around which eventually did convince Disney to go back on the changes they planned to make for their newest princess. I am always amazed at the power social media has to create positive changes.
I’m sure the movie Frozen was already in the works when that petition was going around. Some screen writers and illustrators were busily preparing what I honestly feel is their best movie yet! Two sisters looking to be accepted in different ways. Despite their parents’ well-meaning, Elsa believes she isn’t a good girl because she cannot control her powers. She is isolated from everyone. Anna, her younger sister, in turn has no one because her best friend Elsa locks herself in her room…for years. Anna’s sweet song of persistence in trying to get Elsa to come out and play with her literally brings tears to my eyes. You need a box of tissues for this movie because in true Disney style, there is a lot of heartbreak — starting with Elsa and Anna’s parents dying. The girls only have each other, yet they are disconnected.
When the girls are forced to socialize with the outside world, Elsa is reserved and guarded and Anna is way too trusting. The results of this are not positive, and Elsa must leave the castle and her sister behind. Though she finds her own identity and realizes that she cannot live up to the expectations of others, she is unfortunately misunderstood. Anna ventures to find her sister and let her know she will always love her and together they can fix anything, but again it ends badly (thanks Disney).
During the course of all this, Anna learns a thing or two about independence, trust, and what true love is really about. True love isn’t the fairy tale romance — it isn’t the prince that wakes the princess with a kiss or fights the dragon for her. It is about family. It is about laying down your own life for your sister. On top of all this, Olaf is irresistibly funny.
As a parent to two girls who are as close as can be, I want to thank Disney for getting the message right in this movie. I can’t wait to buy this on DVD and have a Tangled/Brave/Frozen marathon!