Thursday, August 7, 2014

My response to the Frozen furor

Since the arrival of Disney's Frozen in the movie theaters, there have been both it's supports and vehement nay-sayers. Which is normal. This time, however, the conservative Christians didn't focus on the use of magic in the film, which is the want, but on one of the character's songs. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the story of Frozen, so I won't rehash it for you. Here are the lyrics that are troubling to many parents:

                                         "Let It Go"

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I'm the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!

I don't care
What they're going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all!

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on!

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!
Lyrics by Idina Menzel.

And I get many of the points made. I'm a mom of three. It's hard to teach them right and wrong in our current culturel obsession with relativity. Having a song with beautiful animation, supporting casts including taking snowman and a cute reindeer, and a pop star singing doesn't make the issue any easier to ignore.

But let's take the story in context and realize that the song, although played incessantly as a single on the radio, is actually part of Elsa's character development. And it may be a cartoon, but the script was written by real people, so let's put ourselves into Elsa's shoes. have you ever been told that there is something fundamentally wrong with you? That the way you were born is a shame and a disgrace? That part of you needs to be hidden because of your potential to damage someone else? You may not, but I have. I once volunteered for a non-denominational organization in Russia. It was an opportunity that I had been waiting and working for over a period of several years. My dream. But I had a problem. My hair. I was born bald. Then as a child I grew thin, incredibly blond hair. Somewhere over the course of the next several years my hair grew very thick. Then at fifteen it started growing wavy. Not all at once, mind you. That would have been too easy. It started in different patches and took about three to four years until it reached a relative homeostasis. And I didn't have a clue what to do with it. I tried gels, mousse, shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, hair cuts, and anything that any hairdresser would recommend. My mom and my hairdresser tried, but neither one had a clue either. Sure, I could straighten or hot roll it every day, but that took spending well over an hour on my hair alone. Time that I knew I wouldn't have in Russia. The best solution seemed to be to put a perm over the top of the natural curl to try to make it a little more uniform and tame the frizz a bit. Did I mention it's frizzy? if I don't do anything with it I look like I walked through gale-force winds. Back to the point... I thought I was doing pretty well, but evidently it wasn't good enough. I was told on multiple occasions, by men whose wives had stick-straight hair that I was somehow a distraction. That the curliness was often "unkempt" looking and didn't leave a good impression with the leaders the organization was working with. therefore I was instructed to keep my hair "plaited." Laugh if you want at the archaic terminology. But it wasn't a laughing matter.

Have you ever worn a baseball or winter cap all day? you know that feeling how at the end you just want to take it off and run your fingers through it just to feel some movement? Yeah, I felt like that a lot. I also keenly felt the sting that while these people were preaching that God makes no mistakes when He creates each individual, somehow just didn't apply to the way He created my hair.  Some people wither under such criticism, but my family had built some into me some good self-confidence so I knew that what I was being told was ridiculous. While I catered to the request demand made of me, not for one minute did I believe it was right. My sarcasm went into overdrive and I ran with the new nickname from my friends, Rapunzal. Check the name of the blog, I still use that nickname. And I will never be able to forget that someone tried to make me believe that there was something indelibly wrong with me that needed to be hidden for the good of others.

When Elsa reached back and took her hair out of the bun and let it hang down in a braid, I could identify with the feeling. When she talked about no longer needing to hide, I thought of another blond girl with long hair who desperately wanted to be accepted for who she was.  I was already struggling to make my curly hair look nice, and all I was told was that it was hurting the ministry. You know, many people actually like curly hair and think it's beautiful. Not these people. Elsa couldn't help that she had been born with the snow powers. And while her parents weren't trying to make her feel evil, their "help" only consisted of trying to make her hide them. ("Conceal, don't feel.") She lived in constant fear that the very traits that she had been born with and used to entertain her sister would in fact seriously endanger them again.  We both faced condemnation for something that was in our very DNA.

 While many look at Elsa's actions as running away (which she was), also remember that she was running towards something. She was seeking to, for the first time in years, be able to be unapologetically herself. When I got home from Russia, I scheduled a hair appointment that first week to cut the remnants of the perm out of my hair. I have no desire to ever have another one. I'll deal with my natural state from now on, thankyouverymuch!  Elsa looked to be in the neighborhood f 6 when the accident with her sister occurred, forcing her into hiding and preventing her from enjoying a rather fabulous gift. Who can blame her for wanting to be whole, to no longer hide behind a locked door? Surely loneliness with truth must have seemed better than living in isolation in the middle of a city and pretending to be something that she wasn't. Those were the only two options that she could see. There is a vast difference, as illustrated in this movie, between learning to control yourself and attempting to completely eradicate a part of yourself. Perhaps while we talk to our children about the song, we can also talk to them about developing the beautiful person that God created them to be. To learn to use the gifts we are given and to not live our lives in fear but enjoying the life He gave us.

That's my own personal story relating to the film, but I was wondering about the children.  So I asked the targeted demographic: my six and eight-year-old kids. They acknowledged that, yes, she was talking about not having any rules. But I asked them if they thought that's what she still believed at the end of the movie and they said no, that Elsa had come back home and was the queen. And everybody knows that Queens have to follow rules even if they get to change a few. They also answered that they didn't want to leave behind all the rules because they didn't want to be lonely. Although they did seize the opportunity to ask for a reprieve on the "no video games on school nights" rule. They tried, gotta hand it to them. :) While I would not want someone telling my children that it's ok to live with no rules, I think if taken in the larger context of the story itself, the children see the consequences of those actions. And no parents should let their young children watch movies or read books without taking the opportunities to talk with them and help guide them. Disney isn't raising my children. I am.

If you haven't seen Frozen, grab it here from Amazon. Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link.


  1. I agree with your assessment. Not gonna' lie I'm sick of the song but it definitely spoke to me the same way it did you. I will forever be grateful for your friendship in Russia during my Elsa days and when I got home and went through hell with my family. I'm sure you already heard it but I pretty much love "Roar" by Katy Perry for the same reasons as "let it go" only its not as over played. <3 you!

    1. Kathryn, I love "Roar"! I have always wished that i could have done more for you during you Elsa days. Glad that I was able to be your friend during that time. Miss you my friend. >3 you too!

  2. Love this. Thanks for posting :) I also can definitely relate!

    1. :( to those Elsa days. So happy for you and the beautiful family that you have. >3