Belfast Telegraph

Why I love that handsome princes frozen out in new Disney film

By Claire Harrison

We're all about the Disney Princesses in our house these days. They're a pretty unimpressive bunch in my eyes, a gang of lazy ladies who hang around waiting for Prince Charming to come along and help them out of a fix. With a few exceptions, they float around with freakishly tiny waists in pretty gowns and elaborate big hairdos.

Cinderella, I suppose, had a bit of a work ethic about her ... until the promise of a Royal saviour came along and then she was all tiaras and balls. Both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty were in diffs until they were awoken by a kiss from their true love. Only a man will fit the bill in these desperate situations, of course.

Disney Princesses are clearly bad role models for a couple of reasons. Firstly, their body images are completely unrealistic, particularly the non-existent waistlines. (Have you seen Jasmine from Aladdin? Surely her massive hair would outweigh the ability of those tiny legs to hold her up?)

And then, of course, there's the aforementioned hanging round waiting for the dapper man to sweep them away for a happy ever after.

Having said all that, I don't really have a problem with my three-year-old daughter loving her princesses. I don't have a problem because I trust that she is surrounded by enough of the real world to know that real women don't walk around wide-eyed in billowing ball gowns, spontaneously bursting into song and talking to birds. (Although let's not pretend there aren't princesses in the real world who are too thin and who waited around for a man ... )

Banning the Disney beauties would create more questions than not. She's surrounded by enough hard-working women to know that you can go out and do your own thing without the handsome one getting in your way.

She's never seen me in a cockle shell bikini, or with a fish tail, or falling asleep for a hundred years so I know she can tell the difference between real life and far-fetched animation. By the time she'll be obsessing about body image, the Disney ladies will be long forgotten and I'll be battling whoever that year's Miley Cyrus teen idol is. But that's a whole other issue for another day.

Meryl Streep hit the headlines recently when she made an unexpected speech attacking the late great Walt Disney as a "gender bigot". His own grandniece then added fuel by agreeing with Streep. So perhaps it's no surprise that his studio's back catalogue doesn't offer much in the way of feminism. (In defence of Walt, his female leads had a bit more meat on the bone than they do under the modern Disney magic.)

But perhaps things are slowly starting to turn around with Disney's latest blockbuster Frozen, which was released just before Christmas and has already become its highest grossing film of all time. Loosely based on The Snow Queen, it's an absolutely brilliant movie about two sisters, Anna and Elsa.

Yes, they have tiny waists and freaky big eyes. But they're also at the heart of a gripping storyline and belt out catchy songs a Broadway musical would be proud of (indeed there are plans afoot to get it on to the stage).

My daughter's obsession with the Frozen sisters has taken us to the cinema twice. At the second viewing, there were people up dancing in the aisles to the closing credits, so clearly we weren't the only serial viewers.

Interestingly, Frozen appears to be the first Disney film in which the female leads aren't saved by a man. One hapless fella gives it a go but doesn't get there in time (now that's real life) and there's even a brave twist on the old 'saved by a kiss from a true love'.

Tinkering with traditional plots seems to have rewarded Disney handsomely. The message from little girls seems to be: 'Can we please have some more sisters doing it for themselves?'


Belfast Telegraph


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