Why Anna is better than Elsa
My daughter has two cheap Elsa and Anna necklaces that she has never worn. She treats them as toys, and we have spent many hours using them to play ‘Elsa and Anna’ together. Elsa and Anna don’t act out scenes from Frozen or go on adventures through Arendelle; instead, they go to the shops. Cook dinner. Go to the bathroom. Occasionally, they play hide and seek. It’s not an exaggeration to say this game is the most boring thing about being a parent.
One day while Elsa (my daughter) was making them dinner (chili and sausages), I asked my daughter who she liked better – Anna or Elsa.
“Elsa,” she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because she has a pretty dress,” she said.
“But Anna goes on lots of adventures,” I protested. In my eyes, Anna is clearly the more interesting character. She goes on an epic journey to find her sister, braving harsh conditions, making new friends, encountering magic and meeting trolls. Elsa makes some pretty cool things with ice, but otherwise she spends most of the film being all detached and moody. Yes, Anna does that weird getting-engaged-to-a-guy-she-just-met thing, but she’s been socially isolated her whole life, got rejected by her sister and recently lost her parents, so you can understand why she took things a bit too far in her need for human connection.
Clearly, I have spent far too much time thinking about Frozen.
Anyway, I wasn’t surprised that my daughter liked Elsa the best. From what I’ve seen, most little girls do. Elsa has some admirable qualities, like her independence and dedication to protecting her sister. Her reason kind of bothered me, though.
“Because she has a pretty dress.”
My girl is a big fan of pretty dresses. While she refused to wear anything but leggings and t-shirts six months ago, now she’s all about frilly skirts, pink and sparkles. A staff member at Hamleys recently gave her temporary tattoo as part of their glitter tattoo kit promotion, and she talked about nothing else for an entire week afterwards until it faded away. I’m going to have to buy her that stupid tattoo kit for Christmas now, and there’s going to be glitter all over my house for months, because nothing makes her happier than being covered in shiny stuff.
I’m not sure where she got this from. It’s certainly not me – I mean, I wear almost no makeup and own one handbag. Ultra feminine icon I am not. Is she picking up this girly stuff from other kids at nursery? Shops that make it vey clear that this is what that little girls should like? Strangers who compliment her on her looks rather than her abilities?
Of course, it’s possible that she’s simply going through a phase where she thinks tutu skirts are fun to dance in and glitter is mesmerizing. It wouldn’t be her weirdest fashion phase. There was one summer when she wore a cardigan every day, including to bed, even when it was 28 degrees. I remember frantically Googling ‘toddler cardigan obsession’ and becoming alarmed when I discovered that this is not a thing. She grew out of it by the time the weather was actually cool enough to warrant a cardigan, which seemed about right.
I’m not opposed to my daughter liking pretty dresses. I am, however, opposed to her placing too much importance on what she looks like. She’s only three, but it’s never too early to start teaching your kid that there’s more to life than swishy skirts and sparkly shoes. I’m hoping she’ll grow up to be a little more Anna than Elsa – inquisitive, adventurous, funny, and embodying the spirit of Kristen Bell, who played Veronica Mars and is therefore one of my favourite people ever.