Along with probably everyone else in the world, I bought the Frozen DVD/Bluray/Digital Download package at Target this past weekend and proceeded to watch it back to back (while cleaning my apartment) that same day. Every time I watch it, I realize how necessary it was to move the typical Disney Princess trope up to fit this generation’s women. Now I love classic Disney as much as the next person, but liking something doesn’t mean you’re immune to its problems or you can’t criticize what you see.
I’ve always maintained that Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid is the actual worst. Yes, I know his eyes are so blue and his hair is so floppy, etc. etc. BUT he legitimately falls in love with someone he has never heard speak. Ariel straight up has no voice – literally – and he’s all about it. How nice, he must be thinking, to find such an agreeable, sweet-tempered lady, she’ll never argue with him…or share any of her thoughts or feelings. But who needs to hear their significant other’s thoughts and feelings amiright? Personality? Overrated. Do you adorably use a fork to comb your hair? You’ve got yourself a husband. This is such a gyp because Ariel is actually pretty cool. She wanted to explore and start a new life on land. How unfortunate that the archaic idea of a woman leaving her father’s home for her new husbands’ with no stops in between was the way that Ariel had to do it.
Compare this with Frozen, which has two sisters central to the story, one of whom becomes Queen when she comes of age following her parent’s death. There’s no mention of her having to find a husband (like Princess Diaries 2). Everyone just universally accepts the fact that she’s going to be the ruler and a guy doesn’t factor into that at all. Another spectacular twist in Frozen (spoilers!) is that the act of true love at the end is between Anna and Elsa. I’m embarrassed to admit that even in all my feminist glory, I did not see that coming, which really says more about Disney than me. Another aspect I really liked was that Kristoff actually asked if he could kiss Anna. That’s right, Disney breached the topic of consent and passed with flying colors. This may seem like a small thing and you’re probably thinking it was inconsequential, but just imagine that all the children watching this film are absorbing the message that they alone have the right to control their body. They’re learning their personal space will be respected and their voice matters. In a world of rape culture, that’s definitely a message children need to be hearing and I hope it becomes a more consistent occurrence in the media. That doesn’t sound inconsequential to me at all.