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#270: A Feminist Heroine in the Movie Frozen

Frozen appeals to boys and girls alike and that may be its most important contribution. In our book A Womb of Her Own, (Routledge, 2017) Dr. Doris Silverman points out the changes that have occurred since The Little Mermaid came out over two decades earlier. She writes: This is the story of two sisters and their love for each other. The older daughter, Elsa, is cursed with unusual power. She can turn everything to ice. During the course of growing up she secluded herself in her room, fearful of her great power because when she was young she accidently hurt her younger sister. A troll healed the younger sister Anna and made her forget her sister’s powers. When the parents, the king and queen, die, Elsa is to become the next queen. She and her sister fight because her younger sister Anna has made an unfortunate, hasty decision to marry, a deceptive, evil but handsome Duke. Elsa knows this and refuses to grant her sister permission to marry. They fight and Elsa unleashes her power turning everything into cold, icy winter. She is after all the Snow Queen, of an old Hans Christian Anderson tale. Everyone in her kingdom is unhappy to live in a frozen and congealed winter prison. Elsa realizes she cannot royally manage the kingdom and she departs and builds herself a remote ice castle removed from civilization.
Alone, climbing to her icy aerie, she sings a powerful song, about not having to live the life of a perfect, well-behaved girl who conceals her consuming emotions. She sings the hit song from the movie, Let It Go, simultaneously throwing icy stalagmites and stalactites through the air, stamping her feet producing marvelous geometric ice shapes, her arms offering artfully floating curlicues of snow, her body movements transforming the landscape with kaleidoscopic forms of icy bridges, and voluminous crystal formations.
Although I will present many of the features that demonstrate an enhanced thematic characterization of female roles in a current Disney picture there is also a stereotypic reliance on old sexist notions about beauty and appearance .for women. As Elsa sings her song of independence, she increasingly takes on characteristics of a Barbie doll. She flings her hair about so that it is long and loosened, not the more prim appearance when we first see her. As queen she wears a modest dress that completely covers her body. In her song of freedom she wears a sexy off the shoulder dress, with a couturier design of the skirt part of the dress that is split up the middle. The outfit highlights her idealized small waist and curvaceous figure. This new look is that of the typically enticing sexy woman that she is supposed to have given up in her quest for isolation. Here is the more familiar and traditional objectification of females based on their bodily appearance that the Disney movie highlights.

#270: A Feminist Heroine in the Movie Frozen

Ellen Toronto, Ph.D.

Dr. Ellen Toronto is a licensed clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst in the state of Michigan.

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APA Reference
Toronto, E. (2017). #270: A Feminist Heroine in the Movie Frozen. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2018, from


Last updated: 30 Nov 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Nov 2017
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