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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

It’s scary how time flies! I can still remember the time when Frozen first premiered and it was all the rave; and for a very good reason. This was around the time of Brave and Tangled, when Disney was beginning to change its trajectory of Disney Princesses, and began to insert feminism into some of its movies. Princesses no longer needed princes to save them, and storylines went deeper than romanticism, that was honestly not age appropriate for 5 year old children at all. While Frozen did have a storyline of romanticism between Anna, Hans and Kristoff, it was more a side plot than a main one. 

For those of you living under a rock and have yet to catch this fantastic movie, here’s a quick summary (note: Spoilers ahead!) Frozen is a story about two sisters fighting for their place in the world. When their parents pass in a sea-travel tragedy, the elder sister, Elsa, has to step up to the throne. However, her ascension is interrupted as her magic power of being able to shoot ice out of her veins (literally) is revealed and she is labelled a freak and an outsider. She escapes, and her sister, Anna, follows after her in an exciting adventure. A few mishaps and betrayals later, Anna is dying from a frozen heart, in the middle of a frozen lake. Only true love can save her, but it is too late, and Anna is completely frozen over. Elsa cries in disbelief, guilt and shame, and hugs her sister, magically bringing her back to life. True love! Not romantic love, in the love triangle of Anna-Hans-Kristoff, but in the form of sisterly love. 

I remember so clearly my father, who is definitely not a Disney fan, commenting how much he liked the ending. He thought that Hans, Anna’s new-found love, would showcase as the saviour, but alas! How surprising it must have been to see Elsa save her sister. 

Disney movies have never quite gone into the trajectory of familial love at this point in time (2013), and it has shaped our expectations of how Disney movies should go: a princess lost, and a prince finding and saving her. We somehow always expect the man to be the saviour, the protagonist, the main character. Never once has there been a male villain, unless they are old or ugly and vile (like Jafar in Aladdin), and yet in Frozen, the main antagonist is a young, handsome bachelor, and the main protagonists are two orphaned sisters. 

This cast of characters is especially surprising given the way the movie starts and frames the three characters: Elsa, as the brooding, evil older sister, Hans, as the saviour and man of the day, and Anna, the silly, younger sister, who is easily swooned by love. And yet, as the movie progresses, again and again we see Anna choose her sister over everything else: her first love, her new love, and even herself. In the finale when Kristoff is running towards her, in that moment, Anna thinks that is her saving grace, because the prophecy is that “only true love can save her”. Romantic and naive Anna thought that true love comes from her romantic relationships. Yet, between saving herself by running towards Kristoff, and saving her sister from Hans, she chooses her sister, and as a result, she freezes, her frozen statue shattering Hans’ sword. If that doesn’t show young children the impact of familial love, I’m not sure what else will do. 

It was exciting to see the theme of “the helpless damsel” fade out in Disney movies. This perceived helplessness by women and the need for men to rescue them every single time is an illusion dependent on the Damsel in Distress trope. It posits women incapable of protecting and standing up for themselves, and that this weakness stems from their gender identity. It plays into the patriarchal pre-assigned roles to women, and it is no doubt that when Disney first started, and such values were prevalent, its movies and storylines were created to project and support such harmful values and ideologies. 

Salem Ilese hit song Mad at Disney captures it all: Disney gave us a false illusion of what relationships should be, and what women should be, and in the end, when we grow up, we only become confused we “still know nothing about who (we are) or what (we’re) not.” It shows the power and influence of Disney, as this cultural icon, and how far it shapes the self-perceptions of children and their place in the world. 

Frozen is indeed iconic, because after it, came Big Hero 6, Moana, Raya the Last Dragon and Encanto, all of which explore themes of more than just romantic love, but familial and platonic love too. This is what Disney really is about: love, innocence, loads of tears and tons of fun. 

Emmy Kwan

Nanyang Tech '25

The embodiment of a "material gworl" but with no money, if she isn't complaining about capitalism, the economy or the patriarchy, you can find Emmy in the aisles of a clothing store, ironically selling her soul to the corporations she often critiques.