Subverting the Princess

I have always loved fairy tales, but I'm not a huge fan of the Disney princess, especially in its recent hyper-marketed form. I never prevented my daughter from seeing any of the animated films featuring fairy tale princesses like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc., but was happy that she was just as impressed with Hercules and the Aristocats as she might have been with the Little Mermaid. Not to mention Fiona from Shrek, a more subversive (and secretly Mommy-approved) princess.

Idina Menzel and her alter-ego, Elsa

We both liked the recent Disney riff on The Snow Queen, Frozen, but I don't think I realized until hearing Idina Menzel belt out the ubiquitous "Let It Go" for the umpteenth time that Disney may have finally offered up a truly subversive princess. Pixar's attempt to have a new kind of princess, Merida from Brave, may shoot arrows and resist an arranged marriage, but her future still seems to be rooted in such enterprises. But Elsa walks away from not only her kingdom but her past and her future.

Don't let them in,
don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know
Well now they know


Let it go, let it go
And I'll 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!

It is heartening that such a strong female, one yearning to be free, is the focus of the film. Maybe little girls will put aside the pink ball gowns and dreams of princes and instead think about what it means to feel as free as Elsa while she creates her own world upon that mountain top. And Idina Menzel's amazing, soaring vocals help young listeners to aspire to such dreams.


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