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I have a confession to make. As you may have guessed from the title, I genuinely love Elsa from the Frozen franchise. I am almost a senior in college, but I am not afraid to admit my admiration for her, she is a baddie. 

If your perception of Elsa is stuck in the Frozen One “Let it go” stage, let that go! Frozen One is a great movie, but I personally think Elsa shines even more in Frozen Two. 

She is highlighted as an incredible representational figure who breaks the traditional boundaries of gender. You may be suspicious of this claim, but gear up, I may or may not have spent a lot of time thinking about this...

It is important to note right off the bat that she is one of Disney’s first female protagonists presented through the role of a strong queen rather than a dainty princess.  Women have rarely been given powerful roles throughout history, so Elsa’s embodiment of strength and leadership is much needed representation for children to look up to. 

Elsa herself is not just a powerful human figure, but is depicted as almost divine. My roommate, Taylor Schmidt, and I have developed a deep analysis regarding the spiritual and divine allegories present in Frozen, but that might take an article of its own, so I will just touch on our ideas.

The foundation of our theory is that she is found to be part human and part spirit, similar to Christian’s perception of Jesus and the holy spirit. Likewise, in Frozen Two she freezes up, dying and then resurrects. The fact that these divine parallels are displayed through a female energy and body is very encouraging since divinity is oftentimes only displayed through males.

As we continue down the rabbit hole it is vital to remember that through our patriarchal sex & gender system women are regularly defined through their relations to men. Elsa is the queen and thus has no man in charge of her which defies the archetypal portrayal of women in film. 

Her character is intentionally formed with no love interest, no children, and no male gaze sexualizing her. Unlike the majority of other Disney princesses, she does not wait for a man to save the day. She saves the day herself. Nor is she trying to impress a man in the process, instead she is fighting for her own good. Her lack of a prince figure shows children that they don’t need one to be complete. 

Additionally, it is significant to note that Elsa is depicted as 24 years old in Frozen Two, which is an age when women are often pressured to start having children. Instead of conforming to society’s expectations of settling down, she goes on adventures and fights for her kingdom. She does not stay bound by gendered domestic expectations, expressing that becoming a mother is not the only fulfilling option out there. 

Elsa is also a great demonstration of a woman exemplifying femininity AND strength, breaking the 'binarized' expectation of femininity equating to softness. Yes, she uses her ice powers to tame the sea, but does so in a sparkly dress. She signifies power in a way that maintains her femininity, showing viewers that being a girl equates to being a leader. 

My sister Claire and I’s favorite scene in the movie is between 1:00:00 and 1:09:52 when Elsa crosses the sea and enters Atohallan. She personifies power as she fights the waves, tames obstacles thrown at her, and physically and metaphorically knocks down all the boundaries in her way.

The song “Show Yourself” is intermixed within this scene as Elsa discovers that she is the fifth spirit she has been looking for, and not someone else. The empowering lyrics go, “Show yourself, step into your power. Grow yourself, into something new. You are the one you’ve been waiting for”. This is extremely motivating as it shows children that they have the power within themselves to be whoever they want.

Elsa’s leadership also has profound implications regarding the deconstruction of harmful hegemonic structures. In Frozen Two she discovers that her grandfather, a previous king of Arendelle, tricked the natives of their land and killed their leader. This is allegorical for our world today as many white male leaders of the past have hurt native minorities. Instead of brushing this act of domination to the side, Elsa is horrified by her grandfather’s actions and acknowledges that this was wrong. 

Her resistance against well-established marginalization shows young white viewers that racist acts from the past should be recognized and dealt with. She challenges the problematic patriarchal leaders and decisions that came before her.

Another fascinating element to all of this is that Elsa’s character is excluded from the human binary due to her magical powers and identity as the fifth spirit. She embodies this as she sings these “Show Yourself” lyrics, “I have always been so different, normal rules did not apply”. 

Elsa’s acceptance and confidence toward her abnormal identity is inspiring to children who also feel different– those who are disabled, experimenting with sexuality, outside the binary of gender, of any ethnic minority group, etc. In this way, the film leans into the critical concept of intersectionality, showing kids of any identity that it is okay to exist outside of the expected bounds of binaries.

Frozen Two normalizes female dominant spheres of influence through the other female characters as well. The mysterious voice she hears calling out to her is discovered to be the spirit of her mother. This female voice influences the plot and is extremely significant to the climax of the film. 

Elsa’s sister, Anna, also plays a significant role as they work together, forming a heroic duo. This bond between Elsa and Anna functions as part of a broader understanding of women-identified experience. This intimacy and partnership between them represents that fulfillment through relationships can occur without a man.

Elsa is the epitome of female empowerment as she deconstructs the idealized expectations of gender. She breaks the constraints set up by traditional depictions of womanhood and invites viewers to do the same. 

So, while Frozen Two may be a children's movie, I think the feminist principles represented through Elsa can be inspiring and encouraging for all of us. 

Hello! I'm the Editor in Chief for Her Campus SPU. I am a senior at Seattle Pacific University, double majoring in Communication and Social Justice & Cultural Studies with a Concentration in Pre-Law, Human Rights, and Policy. I'm also pursuing a minor in Women's Studies! I am passionate about intersectional social activism and love dogs, books, and cookies.
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