My niece, Evie, will turn 2 in a few months. My sister has made a valiant — possibly futile — effort to protect her daughter from the princess-industrial complex.
That means she avoids (and asks us to avoid) buying Evie super-pink-glitter-sparkle clothes that say things like “Math is Hard” and “My Worth as a Person is Determined By How Cute You Think I Am,” which is really tough because I have a son and OMG LOOK AT THE PINK TAFFETA SKIRT STUDDED WITH SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS MUST BUY NOW. Evie also has no “princess gear”: no gowns, no tiaras, no toddler-sized high heels. And Evie doesn’t care. She is more interested in finding new and exciting ways to destroy stuff.
It’s only a matter of time, I think, before Evie will be asking for Cinderella this and Belle that (with my son, it was like one day he was utterly enamored with his adorably gender-neutral toy vacuum, and the next he knew every superhero and was adept at making machine-gun noises). Which is why I’m glad “Frozen” exists.
I’m behind the curve with “Frozen”; when it came out at Thanksgiving, I was so swamped with screenings that something had to go. My son and I saw it last week and, frankly, I wish we hadn’t waited.
“Frozen” is about princesses, yes, but the central characters are two women, neither of whom are evil. Can you think of the last Disney movie where that was the case? (It was “Brave,” if you count Merida as a woman and not a girl, then “The Incredibles,” if you do the same for Violet. Before that it was NEVER.) “Frozen” isn’t even about being rescued; it’s about creating a world where women who don’t conform to the norm have space to be themselves.
The problem was never princesses. The problem was — is — the culture that spawned fairy tales in which a woman’s happily ever after arrived only after she was victimized by another woman and then rescued by some generically handsome man.
Though Disney has made immense progress in past years, it’s still easy to buy a little girl a tiny ball gown and not remind her that she is entitled to so much more than silk and satin. But now, thanks to “Frozen,” when my niece wants a fairy tale, I can say, “Come here, Evie, and let me tell you the story of Elsa and Anna.”