Disney’s newest princess focused animated film, Frozen has swept the nation in a Broadway-worthy, snow-filled winter wonderland, instant classic fashion. It has also set off a lot of a lot of discussion of feminism and started a conversation about how Disney princesses influence thousands of young girls every year.
The movie is frequently being cited as a positive message for women in multiple ways, the most important ones being that the first love interest ‘prince’ turns out to be evil, there are two strong female leads, and the act of true love ends up being between the two princess sisters rather than a romantic male and female.
Personally, as an adamant Disney fan throughout my life, I really enjoyed the movie. The characters were well-developed, quirky, and fresh, and the music was truly spectacular. However, Frozen is not entirely the feminist success story that it is being hailed as. First of all, I think it’s important to note that Anna, whom I consider the main princess of the movie, does end up with a man and the elusive “true love” always depicted in these animated films. It is not as if Anna and her sister Elsa realize they don’t need any men to live happily ever after, and they ride off in the distance with just the two of them, empowered by their femininity.
The second major fault I find in the movie is the traditional faulty body image that is portrayed. Both Anna and Elsa exhibit statuesque, doll-like figures that only further contribute to society’s unhealthy ideal of what every woman should look like. One exchange between Anna and Elsa that clearly portrays this is when Elsa tells Anna, “you look beautiful” and Anna responds “you look beautifuller, I mean, not fuller. You don’t look fuller, but more beautiful.” They both easily laugh this off, along with the audience of the film. Hah! Anna, don’t accidentally insult the gorgeous Elsa by implying she has taken on a fuller form than the Barbie doll prototype set for you both. Silly Anna, good job correcting yourself while simultaneously implying that looking ‘fuller’ and being beautiful are two mutually exclusive characteristics…Yeah, not exactly what I’d call a great message for young females across the world.
As far as intersectionality goes, every main character in the movie is once again straight, white, thin, and physically abled. Much debate has come over the appropriation of Saami culture in Frozen. The Saami people, an indigenous and traditionally marginalized group in Norway, are what the characters are based off of. The initial upset at Disney’s announcement of a movie with yet another white cast was met with the flawed logic: “Well, there weren’t people of color in Norway back then.” First of all, there were probably people of color in Norway and the rest of Europe as far back as medieval times. And what’s more, a talking snowman and a princess with magical powers are historically accurate enough, but Disney couldn’t bend the rules a little to make an effort at representation for their modern, diverse audience? Please.
While Frozen does take a few solid steps forward in the way of Disney princess films, there is still much room for improvement before we can consider it a truly enlightened genre.
What did you think of Frozen? Let us know!