Over a year after its release in 2013, Frozen is still at the forefront of everyone’s minds. That’s not to say that it is universally loved, however, and much of the criticism of the film falls on the ladies. Starting off this week with Anna, I’ll admit she’s not as much of a favourite as some of the other Disney princesses of heroines on the roster. Character-wise, she’s very similar to Rapunzel or Ariel. She has a yearning for the outside world, is spunky, occasionally clumsy, believes the best in people and subsequently goes through a lot of personal growth in the film for her to ‘grow up’.
Criticism levelled at her – notably by The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik – questions how in the film she’s still looking for romance, and therefore is not as independent or ‘progressive’ as we might like to think. I don’t necessarily think this is a fair assessment. It’s true that Anna is romantically oriented in the film. She falls in love with Hans very quickly and throughout the film she bonds with Kristoff until they end up together at the end. Given the long progression of Disney Princesses with male love interests it’s easy to critique Anna’s place in this. However, I think people are missing that she’s driven and resourceful, able to take care of herself or make the tough decisions when she has to.
I don’t think it’s fair to criticise her because she’s romantically oriented. Given the large tabloid focus on romance or relationships and the booming dating industry, I think it’s fair to say that many people have romance of a kind on their minds. Anna is no different: after all, she’s not a symbol of certain values, nor should her purpose be to carry idealistic expectations. Her motivations are very human and due to that, of course she makes mistakes. I understand that as a role model for little girls Disney should be very aware of perpetuating an image that romance is equatable to a ‘happy ending’, but the balance of Frozen means that Anna’s story is not the only one little girls can take away from the film. Let’s not forget here, it’s Anna’s position which helps elevate Kristoff’s status, and he’s the one to develop feelings for her first. Elsa is Anna’s first priority throughout the film, and romance just caters to the more traditional views in the audience. After all, Disney is trying to cater to as many people as possible.
Elsa might be the more popular of the Princesses, but together they’re a strong duo and Anna is the lighthearted side of the coin. She’s a further development on the ‘spunky’ princess, taking off from the strong basis set up from Rapunzel. Her storyline and growth might be less glitzy in comparison to that of her sister, but her characterisation and progression is no less realistic. Whilst it might be less obvious, she’s still a point of development for Disney, which they’ve managed to just about ace without making her unattainable.