NOTE: Although this post is about the movie Frozen, it is relevant to people with children and without and relates to the way women are viewed...
So I FINALLY watched the movie Frozen with my children.
As much as I enjoyed it, I came away with an important observation.
A very subtle one in fact.
Given it is International Women's Day this Sunday; I think it ought to be discussed.
For those of you that haven't watched it yet and want the background to my observation...
Princess Elsa has magical powers and she can turn anything to ice.
One day, when she and her younger sister are out playing, she accidentally freezes her younger sisters head.
In order to save the toddler, a troll takes away all memory from her and Elsa is no longer allowed to play with or meet anyone again. She also has to wear gloves to prevent everything turning to ice.
She leads a cold and isolated life and on the day she is finally of age and to be coronated as Queen, she argues with her sister over a sudden engagement and ends up accidentally turning everything to ice, being caught out as a 'sorcerer' and runs away out of fear.
As she runs further and further away, she feels freed because everyone finally knows her secret.
She builds her own ice castle to live in alone, where she can test out her powers and not harm anyone.
She is finally free to be happy and who she actually is. She doesn't have to hold back anymore... she can 'let it go'.
When this transition happens, she goes from being a cold, sensible, prim and proper young lady to a warm, smiley, happy, dancing and prancing young lady.
And her clothes and hairstyle also change.
THIS IS MY POINT.
When she is finally happy, she loosens her hair, her clothes change and become more exposing of her skin.
When she was sad, her hair was up and neat and she was covered up to her neck.
When she is happy her dress becomes a sparkly, shiny shoulder less gown with a deep back neckline and a slit up her skirt showing her leg up to her thigh.
Why Disney? Why?!
Why does a woman have to 'get naked' (you know what I mean) to be happy and free?
When will these stereotypes stop being subtly unleashed upon our children?!
Which version of Elsa do you think girls will love and want to be like? Of course the happy, free version, who also happens to look slightly sexier orsexualised even.
Why can't a woman be depicted as happy if she is covered up to her neck?
In this day and age where covering up and modesty are looked upon as something inappropriate, the people that do choose to wear clothes that cover their bodies fully are looked on as being different, strange even.
What if we stopped stereotyping?
Just as a woman who chooses to wear a very short skirt and has her shirt buttons undone to her chest expects respect for who she is and her freedom of choice, why can't a woman who chooses to show nothing at all?
Is she not allowed any freedom of choice? Is she ALWAYS suppressed and unhappy?
Should our young girls think that being covered means being gloomy and leading an unhappy life? Does that sound right?
I can't help but think that we are going down a route that promotes inequality instead of denounces it.
I read an article recently about girls being made to feel they should be attractive. I'd like to share an important study with you from it:
"Society's message that being attractive is better than being smart can be highly detrimental to young girls, according to Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology and women's and gender studies at the University of Texas at Austin, who has studied the internalized sexualization of girls ages 10-15.
She found that girls who believe being sexually attractive is an important part of their identity have less academic success and less motivation to succeed in school.
Speaking to HuffPost, Bigler cited earlier studies that also found those girls to have lower self-esteem and fewer peer relations.
For their research, Bigler and her colleagues first tested girls to find out where they fell on an internalized sexualization scale: Girls who indicated, for example, that they preferred to wear sexy clothing scored higher; girls who preferred modest clothing scored lower.
Then, the researchers had the girls prepare to shoot a newscast on which they were told they would be evaluated. The girls were secretly filmed as they got ready for their segments. The group who had scored high on internalized sexualization spent more time putting on makeup and less time reading the script than the group who had scored low.
"That suggests to me there are real consequences to internalizing the idea that our appearance is what's important. There are real consequences for academic performance" Bigler said.
Wade made a similar point about the impact of labeling girls as pretty -- on shirts or otherwise.
"Young girls do learn that what they look like is very, very important and that does have impact in what they value and what kind of decisions they make and who they think they are," she said, adding, "Little girls are constantly told how pretty they are, and they learn very quickly that being pretty is important."
(Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/dangerous-lessons-from-sexist-shirts_n_6102096.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037 )
Why do we as a society continually promote that being attractive, showing skin, wearing make up and walking 'sassily' is equal to being happy or successful?
Why are we intent on sexualising our young girls?
Why should being attractive in terms of what society approves of equate with being happy or successful?
These subtle inferences have an impact on our children and their futures. They impact how our children think and what they aspire to.
We keep saying that our children should be free to decide who they are and how they want to live, but with everything that surrounds them visually, are they ever being given a choice? How many are strong enough to not conform to society's 'ideals'? Really?
The Frozen story is a sad one with a happy ending. I liked it and my boys eventually enjoyed it, despite resisting at first because it was far too 'girly' for them.
The main message of the story is that love can conquer fear. Which of course is a great message.
To sum up, I get it. I understand what everyone has been saying all along.
Despite the subtle message in clothing, it's a great movie with touching moments that leave a memorable message for your inner or outer child (you know the one you gave birth to)...
"Some people are worth melting for."
Take a look at the video of the world famous song 'Let It Go', where Elsa goes through her transition from a fearful princess to a free and happy one (especially 2.59-3.37secs)...