With the highly anticipated sequel to Disney’s smash hit Frozen currently in the works, those of us who are dying to know what comes next for Anna, Kristoff, Elsa and Olaf are keeping busy speculating about potential plot lines. Some fans have come together to offer a story line of their own, with the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend gaining traction across social media.
But as amazing as it would be to finally see an openly gay Disney princess, there’s a part of me that hopes Elsa stays single.
Of course, introducing a lesbian princess into the Disney franchise is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious idea. Whether they’re gay or straight themselves, showing children from a young age that love comes in many forms can only breed more tolerance and acceptance in the younger generation. And the current representation of gay youth in animated mainstream media is woefully inadequate. If Disney doesn’t already have plans for an animated LGBTQ princess (or prince!) in the works, then they really should get on that. And let’s throw some nonbinary characters into the mix, shall we? It’s 2016, after all.
But the character of Elsa as she existed at the end of Frozen — that is, without a romantic interest of either sex — also has value to an impressionable young audience. With the exception of Merida in the film Brave, there is no other Disney princess who doesn’t have a love interest. Even in Brave, the film still centered largely around a marriage story line — the idea that Merida was trying to escape a betrothal she didn’t want.
Elsa was different. Her story line marked the first time that Disney told a story about a female character that had no mention of romance or marriage. Elsa did things on her own terms and let go of other people’s judgment in order to be true to herself (yes, all reasons why she would make an amazing lesbian role model). At the conclusion of the film, Elsa was happy in her own right. Regardless of her sexuality, she was content on her own, and that’s something kids could benefit from seeing, which is why she should stay as she is, a fierce, self-sufficient, single woman.
So much of the Disney narrative is the idea of happily ever, that the only way to lead a fulfilling life is to find a partner, but the reality is that not everyone ends up in or even wants to be in a marriage or a long-term relationship. And yet in film after film Disney partners characters off into neat, two-person parcels, reinforcing the idea coupledom is key to self-fulfillment.
As a straight woman, perhaps my voice shouldn’t be the one that matters here. Representation is representation, and if Disney gives Elsa a lesbian lover, I’ll be first in line to buy advance tickets for me and my kids, probably with my hair in a tousled French braid.
But as a mom, I have to say Elsa has merit as a single woman, and Disney has a better opportunity for representation by creating new characters with a myriad of gender identities and sexual preferences.