Beyond "Let It Go"
Start writing a post
Entertainment

Beyond "Let It Go"

Little girls love to dress up like the Disney ice queen, but are they getting the right message?

15
Beyond "Let It Go"

Earlier this summer, I did a stint as a counselor at a day camp for preschoolers, which was half hard physical labor and half paid entertainment. I noticed that many of the little girls came to camp dressed in "Frozen"shirts and backpacks. Almost two years after the release of the hit Disney movie, its popularity hasn't slowed down much, at least not with kids. When "Let It Go" came on the radio, the lunch table erupted into a heated argument over the movie. "Be quiet!" one girl hollered. "I need to hear Elsa!"

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I loved "Frozen"when I saw it in theaters, and I still love it now. I grew up on a steady diet of Disney musicals: my brother and I used to bond by singing off-key duets from "Mulan"and "The Lion King," and the film gave us a whole new set of catchy tunes to belt out. I was especially captivated by Elsa, the queen whose hidden powers plunge her kingdom into an endless winter—and I quickly found I wasn't alone. Although Anna is ostensibly the heroine of "Frozen," Elsa is blazoned on every piece of merchandise, her ice dress covered in sparkles and a carefree, confident smile on her face. When I ask adults why they like Elsa, I tend to get similar responses: she's independent and in control of her fate, a good role model for young girls, unlike Disney princesses before her who lived only to find true love. Inone YouTube videowith almost a million hits, she leads the other princesses in an empowering musical number, declaring, "Why keep on assuming men will save the day? I can be the hero and do it my own way!"

There's just one problem: this character doesn't actually exist.

In the movie itself, Elsa is an anxious wreck who uses her cold, aloof demeanor as a defense mechanism to hide her crippling fear and insecurity. She spends most of the movie running away from her problems, isolating herself from her kingdom and her sister because she thinks they're better off without her. She might not need a prince to sweep her off her feet, but she doesneed her sister to save her: from the villain's attempt on her life, yes, but mostly from her own despair. This is a complex, sympathetic character, but hardly strong or independent in the traditional sense. I was drawn more to her weaknesses than to her strengths, because they made her real. Most of all, I related to her. As an introvert with an anxiety disorder, I never saw myself reflected in the spunky, headstrong heroines of my childhood movies. A Disney princess (or queen) who panicked, who shut others out and who needed the support of her family to learn to love herself, would have meant the world to me growing up.

I would guess that media and advertising portray Elsa as a powerful, self-assured ice queen because female characters are expected to be "strong" in a homogeneous and easily definable way, which involves being tough and competent, not depending on anyone, and preferably being able to throw a punch. This pressure is especially strong in media geared toward children, where female characters are seen as role models for young girls. But characters, male or female, don't have to be role models. We don't even need to like them. It's most important for them to be compelling and believable—and that means having flaws as well as virtues. For that matter, it's time we stopped equating "Has no love interest" with "Strong and independent." Anna is often seen as the weaker of the sisters, but her romantic nature and interest in boys don't cancel out her courage and determination.

I can't say with any certainty why Elsa is such a popular character. Maybe it's largely because she has a pretty dress and an awesome musical number. But I think a lot of people appreciated her struggles and her hard journey to overcome them. We don't need to justify that by holding her up as a feminist role model. It's enough for her to be human.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Lifestyle

New England Summers Are The BEST Summers

Why you should spend your next summer in New England.

484
Marconi Beach

Three years ago, I chose to attend college in Philadelphia, approximately 360 miles away from my small town in New Hampshire. I have learned many valuable lessons away from home, and have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Pennsylvania. One thing that my experience has taught me, however, is that it is absolutely impossible to beat a New England summer.

Keep Reading...Show less
Entertainment

Fibonacci Sequence Examples: 7 Beautiful Instances In Nature

Nature is beautiful (and so is math). The last one will blow your mind.

234942
illustration of the fibonacci sequence
StableDiffusion

Yes, the math major is doing a math-related post. What are the odds? I'll have to calculate it later. Many people have probably learned about the Fibonacci sequence in their high school math classes. However, I thought I would just refresh everyone's memories and show how math can be beautiful and apply to physical things everywhere around us with stunning examples.

Keep Reading...Show less
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

90097
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments