I’ve heard everything feminists have to say about Disney Princess culture and I get it. I really do. I’ve seen it in my own home. Sometimes Kate puts on that Belle dress and the Beast comes out, all imperial orders and commands.
No one will be shocked to hear that my daughter roars right past princess to Queen.
But the last two Disney princess movies have been different. In Brave, Merida is the tomboy of all tomboys, with her riotous curly hair, and she takes a pretty strong stand against her mom turning her into a proper princess. She has to come of age, because she makes a mess, but then she cleans it up. She fights for her own honor and there is no handsome prince in that movie at all, unless you count the triplets.
When Kate wears her Merida dress, she charges out into the cul-de-sac to ride her bike, her arrows slung over her shoulder, singing “I will rise! I will fly! Chase the wind and touch the sky! I will rise! Chase the wind and touch the skkkkkyyyy!”
Now we have Frozen, with its amazing soundtrack. Most of you know what I’m talking about. But if you’ve been in a hole for two months, go to Youtube and search “Let it go”. See what happens next.
Kate got an Elsa dress for Christmas, of course, because Elsa is the Queen and Anna is just her princess sister. She has memorized the whole soundtrack and for a while, she sang Anna with her purer soprano while I sang Elsa. But then Kate decided that Let It Go was the best thing in the history of ever, and my solo became a duet.
Or she sings it alone. Like the other day, while I was cleaning the kitchen and she was cleaning up her toys in the loft. This is what I heard:
Let it go, let it go!
I will rise like the break of dawn!
Let it go, let it go!
THAT PERFECT GIRL IS GONE!
Here I stand in the light of day!
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway
And I thought Oh yes, my sweet girl. When the world asks you to be perfect, bombards you with false images and makes you feel like you aren’t enough, I pray to the good Lord that you will rise like the break of dawn and make your stand.
Learn from Merida that you can’t selfishly disregard your responsibilities as a member of our family, our community, our world. And learn from Elsa that you should never hide your magic to be what others want you to be.
Sometimes that will be easy. And sometimes you will have to fight against the storm.
In these two movies, there is no happily ever after. There is no guarantee that a few songs and dances have earned Merida and Elsa charmed lives. They only climbed the first mountain, of accepting who they are and what that means. And that’s something we all have to do.
PS: Before anyone says “But the Disney characters bombard little girls with false body images, I saw that article on HuffPo that pointed out that Anna’s arm was thicker than her waist and what is UP with their eyes??” I asked Kate about that. “Does Merida look normal to you?” I asked “With those great big eyes?” She looked at me over the top of her glasses like I was the silliest mama ever. “She’s a cartoon. She’s not supposed to look like a human.” Duh.