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Why parents shouldn't be afraid to Let It Go

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Elsa & Anna

Elsa & Anna

Frozen, role models

Frozen, role models

Eve Gancia with toys from the Disney movie Frozen in her shopping trolley, at the Toy Show in the RDS, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

frozen calender cover

frozen calender cover

PA

Frozen shopper

Frozen shopper

PA

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Elsa & Anna

So, did you manage to get your hands on a Frozen "Elsa" Glow Doll yet? If not, do you know anyone who was lucky enough to do so? (You may be able to negotiate your yearly salary in exchange for it). Does Santa have any left? More importantly, has Ryan Tubridy and the Toy Show team been able to put their hands on one for tonight's Christmas show (see below left)? And the question on everybody's lips today - will there be one for everybody in the audience?

For those of you who somehow manage to live in a world with no media intrusions, I should explain that Elsa is one of the two main characters in Frozen, the Disney blockbuster film which is now the highest grossing animated film of all time. And it's nearly Christmas time and mammies and daddies everywhere are indulging their little darlings, taking them to the pictures and spending hours in line outside toy stores in order to grab the latest "must-have" toy.

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Frozen, role models

Frozen, role models

Eve Gancia with toys from the Disney movie Frozen in her shopping trolley, at the Toy Show in the RDS, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Frozen, role models

What's the big deal, you're asking? Well, as the character of Anna (sister of Elsa) might say - or sing - "for the first time in forever" Disney have actually made a movie with not one, but two strong female leads whose actions drive the film. This may not sound like ground-breaking news, but believe me, in the world of helpless Disney princesses constantly having to be rescued by handsome princes, it is revolutionary.

Usually, when I take my children to the cinema, I feel the urge to roll my eyes, emit a few groans and wonder, loudly, why it is that the girls portrayed are always so beautifully submissive. As my daughter pointed out to me recently, no normal girl could lie as still and perfect as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty when they are in "deep sleep" and then wake so gracefully when they get kissed by a strange man. As she said: "If I woke up to some boy I didn't know kissing me - no matter how gorgeous he was - I'd be more likely to scream for the police! And though they've been sweet and beautiful and sing very nicely, Disney princesses, with their inability to do anything except cook, clean, sew and marry the first rich guy that they meet, haven't exactly been the best role models for our children.

There are no distressed princesses saved by handsome princes in this movie. In fact, Disney even have the courage (or the business savvy) to send up their old trope of instant romance. When Anna impetuously decides to get engaged to the first handsome prince she meets, Hans, the rest of the characters are aghast. "How can you get engaged to someone you just met?" is the general response, despite the fact that this has happened in practically every old-style Disney film since Snow White was kissed by Prince Charming in the 1930s.

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frozen calender cover

frozen calender cover

PA

frozen calender cover

Also, this is, arguably, the first Disney film where the princesses are far from perfect, even far from good in the case of Elsa, and make quite a lot of mistakes before we get to see a happy ending.

Both sisters suffer from the suffocating repression forced on them by their father and the cost of trying to overcome it nearly costs Anna her life and Elsa her kingdom.

Okay, they are still white, rich, beautiful and worryingly thin, but I suppose this is a start, especially as Disney's next film, Moana, is about a Polynesian princess exploring her Oceanic home. But Elsa of Frozen is different from other Disney heroines in some quite unusual ways. "Don't feel, conceal", is the motto she has been forced to live with for years because of her powers. She believes that if she doesn't hide her emotions, she'll hurt others. Elsa appears to be the first Disney princess who is tackling anxiety disorders. Like many girls and women, she's been forced to deny who she is and she now has serious emotional issues.

It's astonishing how many young girls have identified with this and consequently have made her song "Let It Go" - sung during the scene where she finally accepts who she is and what she can do - their anthem.

Ultimately, the real feminist pay-off in Frozen comes at the end when the traditional Disney "Love's True Kiss" is transformed into "An Action of True Love" which is (spoiler alert) unknowingly performed by Anna in order to save her sister. This is "sisters doing it for themselves" without the need for a man to come and bail them out.

Not that this could be mistaken for a story written by Germaine Greer or Gloria Steinem, far from it. While the characters may joke about the ridiculousness of Anna falling for the first handsome prince she meets, we end up knowing that she will, most probably, marry the second boy she came across. But notably, Elsa, the real heroine, has no love interest whatsoever.

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Elsa & Anna

Elsa & Anna

Elsa & Anna

So, while it may not be perfect, Disney have finally managed to make a film with morally flawed heroines who don't need a prince yet manage to get to the happily-ever-after stage on their own merits. And guess what? The boys love them too.

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Frozen shopper

Frozen shopper

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Frozen shopper

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