It’s starting to anger me when critiques AND raves alike of Frozen so often fail to note that Elsa is an intentional, explicit (confirmed by the director) portrayal of depression and anxiety. She. Is. A. Disabled. Princess. Which I think most disabled people saw automatically, but clearly has gone over the head of lots of neurotypical people. Elsa’s powers are a physical manifestation of her depression/anxiety. Her entire storyline is a kid-friendly metaphor for the feeling that most disabled people have at one time or another: this disability I have is a curse and people would be better off if I wasn’t around them.
Frozen is not really important or progressive because it’s about sisters, or because it attempts to deconstruct sexist fairy tale notions of true love, or because marriage isn’t the end goal for the female characters. It’s nice to see these things but they aren’t what makes the movie notable.
What is important, and what makes the movie 100% worth it for many people despite its flaws, is the fact that this movie tells mentally disabled people that they are worthy of love. That they are worth fighting for. That even if you push people away out of fear and self-loathing, even if you unintentionally hurt someone, even if you don’t think you’re worthy, good people (your true family, regardless of blood relation) will forgive and love you anyway. Good people will see you as a person, no matter the disability. And sometimes, that unconditional love is enough to save you from disaster. Do you know how fucking rare that is to see? Especially in a kids’ movie where Evil so often = “crazy”?
I’m not the target audience of this movie, not even close, but even I need that message. I need it plastered everywhere. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make a difference. There’s a reason more than one person has come forward to say that Frozen kept them from suicide.
Not saying the movie is perfect. Not saying we can’t discuss its flaws. Not saying you have to like the movie. But don’t forget that it’s a huge piece of representation for those of us with mental disabilities. Practically the only one we have, honestly, if we’re looking at positive and accurate stories about disability. And that always matters.