“Do you wanna build a snowman?” the lonely little sister begs her older sister in Disney’s newest animated musical, Frozen. The big sister refuses to leave her room for fear of unleashing her unwanted magical powers to create ice and snow at will. “Come on let’s go and play!”
As a little sister and as a big sister, I identified strongly with both of the heroines of Frozen. (And as an inhabitant of Chicago, but in a different way.) It was great to see a fairy tale adventure in which the two princesses’ coming of age was about discovering their girl powers, in the best of all possible ways, and expressing their love for each other.
“Let it go!” sings the older sister, the newly crowned queen, as she flees life in the castle where she struggles to be a good girl by hiding her magical powers. “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show” gives way to “it’s time to see what I can do!”
She lets the perfect girl go, and explores her ice powers to their full extent to build herself a stunning castle high in the wild mountains. Only she accidentally freezes over summer, threatening the lives of the people of her land.
To find and save her big sister and their kingdom (queendom?), the warm-hearted younger princess partners with an ice-guy, his reindeer, and a snowman. They support her, she saves them, they save her, she saves them again–a competent, strong, adventurous, loving, quickthinking, all around kick-ass awesome heroine.
(Spoiler alert! The next paragraph gives away the best part of this girl-power rewrite of old-fashioned fairy tales that lays the ground to liberate our youngest XX chromosome Disney-watching generation.)
For the younger sister, accidentally injured, once again, by the powers of her big sister, a desperate attempt to win the kiss of a prince does not bring happily ever after. The act of true love needed to lift the frozen spell ultimately comes from within, and the little princess saves the people of their land, her older sister, and herself with an act of selfless love.
Sisterhood, power, liberation. Frozen.
Disney seriously lays the ground for a healthier future, girls who can take their destiny in their own hands, who can stay in school and get a job and choose when to have sex and whether to use condoms and when to get married and have kids and raise the next generation of empowered girls without needing to diminish themselves for the support of a man. The Girl Effect in action, worldwide. Thank you, Disney.