Dear Disney and The Makers of Frozen,
I want to tell you how much I loved your film. Loved it. There are so many things right with Frozen and in the spirit of positive reinforcement, I'm going to start by praising them before I mention the couple of bits that made me cringe.
First, the good bits. And there are many. Overall, I love the moral message that sisters are doing it for themselves. Girls! Redemption doesn't come in the form of a handsome prince! For once! In fact, the opposite! Which is both unexpected and refreshing after the Disney diet you've fed us for 100 years where damsels in distress are repeatedly saved by hot royalty.
That stuff is old and it's wonderful how you haven't built your movie on the idea that marriage is an automatic ticket to happily ever after. Make yourselves happy, girls. Surround yourself with people who are loyal and who love and respect you, says Frozen. A life partner is an added bonus.
Brave's glorious Princess Merida walked that talk by rejecting the idea that a bunch of strangers should compete with each other to marry her. Instead, she competed with them to win her independence. Which she did. Go Merida. That's some impressive feminist ideology right there.
In Frozen, you guys took it even further. Not only was a handsome prince not a saviour, he turned out to be the film's villain, underscoring the message that love-at-first-sight is generally a crock. An excellent modern lesson for young girls given the way previous Disney heroines fell over themselves to marry men they met 10 minutes ago. Because how'd that work out for you, Kardashian sisters?
Also, thank you for making the two lead characters women and focussing on the complex relationship that exists between sisters and friends. I've not seen that in a mainstream animated film before. More, please.
And big-ups for the songs. Who knew Kristen Bell (Ana) had such a beautiful voice? And Idina Menzel (Elsa) is utterly extraordinary. We left the theatre and immediately downloaded the album, which my children and I cannot stop singing, to the point where my husband and teenage son are threatening to move out.
So all of that? Awesome. Thank you for challenging so many of the sexist, clichéd stereotypes upon which countless fairytales (and your movies) have been built.
Now in the spirit of "please try harder", can I just point out a couple of small but significant things that jarred with me.
Your female characters are still bizarrely skinny. Like, actually bizarrely. Their eyes are bigger than their wrists and their wrists are about the same size as their waists.
While male Disney characters have always come in all shapes, sizes, ages and skin colours, your female characters are almost indistinguishable. Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and now Elsa and Ana do literally appear to be cut from the same mould - one that has no room for internal organs.
The influence of this is impossible to measure but that doesn't mean it's not real. The first thing my 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son do when they're watching a movie or tv show is announce which character they 'are'. That's how strongly they identify with what's on the screen., animated or not. So to think that behaviour and body shape has no effect is naive at best, irresponsible at worst.
The other bit that made me cringe was the spectacular scene in which Elsa flees Arondel after accidentally freezing it and decides to make her home alone in the mountains in a glorious castle made with her icy magic. 'Let It Go' is the best song in the movie. A triumph.
My question is this: why does Elsa's liberation have to involve her physical transformation from 'good girl' in a pretty dress to vampy ice goddess complete with cleavage, big hair, slinky skin-tight frock slit up the side, bedroom eyes and sexy, sultry walk?
I can't believe I just used the expression 'bedroom eyes'. Now it sounds like I'm slut-shaming a Disney character. I don't even know who I am anymore.
Elsa can clearly wear what she wants. Or what you, the animators, producers and directors want her to. But I hated the way that her make-over so clearly links Elsa's emotional emancipation with becoming sexy. Suddenly she's Sofia Vergara on the red carpet. On ice.
Some will say that I should just be grateful for the progress you've made in this film and stop nit-picking. I get that. But I personally believe that just because things could be worse, it doesn't mean they can't also be better. And so it is with Frozen.
In summary. Thanks Frozen people. Your movie was so good I'm going to see it again. You made some major strides forward in the way you portray women. Next time I would love it if you could just fix those few little things. And maybe one of the female characters could have a job.
This post was first published on ivillage.com.au