Frozen 2 has released and how, by now almost half the world must have watched it!

My daughter’s birthday is in January, but her birthday party theme is decided thanks to Frozen 2. Do I mind it? No, because I believe Elsa and Anna are any day better than Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella and other such fairy tales that we grew up with.  Tales or modern fairy tales have grown up and changed with the times and I couldn’t be happier.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Old fairy tales are riddled with prejudice and archaic stereotypes.
  • These tales subtly feed us the idea of masculinity and aa misleading quest for true love.
  • In an age when girls are breaking all-male domains these tales still tell us that marriage is the ultimate destination and celebration.
  • Movies like Frozen and Moana are changing this perception. Luckily so!

Why am I averse to fairy tales you might ask, well because they are riddled with prejudice and archaic stereotypes. Till now we have overlooked the damaging ideologies that they propagate via misogynistic characters, degrading plot lines and racism. I feel we need to criticize some of the key storylines, which depict women as being rescued by men and being kissed while they sleep.

Today when women and men are choosing to remain unmarried, are we teaching our kids that you are a loser if you do not find that someone special and settle down? Food for though? Yes.

Let’s discuss some of the stereotypes I would like to oppose. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella other than being blessed with the porcelain skin and glossy hair, they are each saved from a lifetime of misery or eternal sleep by their knights in shining armour, the Prince Charming in most cases. These tales subtly feed us the idea of masculinity and that quest for true love, which is misleading. I can’t even imagine what it does to a child’s thought process. I mean of both genders and not just girls.

In an age when girls are breaking all male domains like the defence, space, aviation among others we have these tales tell us that marriage is the ultimate goal for every woman. The Little MermaidCinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and even modern tales like Shrek and Stardust would like you to believe that. Today when women and men are choosing to remain unmarried, are we teaching our kids that you are a loser if you do not find that someone special and settle down? Food for thought? Yes. I am upset with the domesticated portrayal of most female characters. Who can forget in the Beauty and the Beast where Belle can only save her poor father from the Beast’s entrapment by becoming his maid or that Snow White has to look after the household for the seven male dwarves while they go out to work and Cinderella is bound to a life of floor-scrubbing and cooking and cleaning the pots till she is rescued.

Also read: Mission Mangal Review: Bollywood Gets Empowerment Wrong Again

There is another major issue with the characters I feel, all the princesses are beautiful, slim and more often than not, fair and perfect. In an era of body positivism where we are embracing all body types and complexions, they tell us slim and fair is beautiful. Much like Barbie dolls which receive criticism for unreal portrayal of physical standards. I really do not want to teach my daughter the idea that beauty and happiness are synonymous with thinness.

On the other hand the film Frozen, here I mean both parts tick many boxes. Starting with not one but two empowering female characters, two sisters Elsa and Anna. It is the sisters who rule the kingdom they inherit from their father and not their husbands. It is Elsa and Anna who save their kingdom from a certain doom, not some charming prince. Then there is the handsome but down-to-earth Kristoff, who isn’t a prince and is willing to play second fiddle to Anna while she rules.

What I liked about the film was that it teaches kids about family loyalties and ties. Elsa is shown to have genuine connection with her sister, Anna. In Frozen 2 they have only each other and they have to have each other’s backs. What is endearing is that they knew when the other was in danger. The fact that it is the true love Anna has for her sister Elsa that saves her, not the true love of a prince, this is a masterstroke. What I was happy to notice was that there were as many little boys with their parents who had come to watch the film as girls. This keeping in view that the movie is about two sisters.

There is another major issue with the characters I feel, all the princesses are beautiful, slim and more often than not, fair and perfect. In an era of body positivism where we are embracing all body types and complexions, they tell us slim and fair is beautiful.

Though Frozen also has some stereotypes, as like all princesses they are slim and fair and beautiful. What is striking about both the sisters is that they have huge eyes and impossibly thick hair. While nothing can be done about the eyes and hair, girls might want a waist that small and hips that narrow. Also, the male character Kristoff can think of nothing better than propose to Anna throughout the movie.

Here I would like to add about another movie that I liked; Moana. The film tells the story of a little girl named Moana, who is a strong-willed daughter of a chief of a Polynesian island village, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with the goddess Te Fiti. When doom strikes her island, it is Moana who sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod, in the hope of returning the relic to Te Fiti and saving her people. Moana is again a strong female character which I love and let my daughter watch whenever it’s aired on TV.

Kids are influenced by images and portrayals that they see in the media. And movies like Frozen or even Moana have a huge reach and impact. I hope production houses realise this and use their huge platform to show a young girl/woman or boy/man dealing with today’s issues realistically.

While fairytales can be brilliant for inspiring imaginative discussions in children, parents must be vigilant of what their kids are interpreting from characters. Kid’s films and stories are meant to be positive and a learning process. Let’s make sure they learn right!

The views expressed are the writer’s own. 

Also read: Why Are Women Attracted To Benevolent Sexist Men Like Kabir Singh?

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