I really loved Frozen, and not just because it’s a fantastic film, but because it touched me on a personal level.
Frozen is the best Disney film since the Renaissance, which is my personal barometer for Disney quality, it being the era when I was small and just beginning my love for animation. I take back every negative thought I have expressed about this film. I should have known better than to complain about a film that hadn’t come out yet. I didn’t like that it didn’t resemble the original Hans Christian Andersen story, I hated the title (okay, I still do), I didn’t like the leaked character designs, which were too similar to Tangled.
None of that matters, because Disney has finally given me a story about two sisters who love each other more than anything. We’ve had films about fathers and sons. (Pinocchio, The Lion King, A Goofy Movie) We’ve had stories about mothers and sons. (Bambi) We’ve had stories about sisters and brothers. (Peter Pan) We’ve had stories about fathers and daughters. (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Mulan) We’ve had stories about parents and children. (101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats) The only film that comes close to depicting the love between sisters is Lilo & Stitch, and it’s still mostly about “A girl and her pet,” not about two orphans who only have each other left.
Why is this so important to me? Because I love my little sister more than life. I’m 12 years older, so I’ve always been a combination of sibling and parent. I see myself in Elsa, and I see my sister in Anna. She is athletic, energetic, and longing for company. I am sickly, withdrawn, and often a loner. Just like the two Princesses in Frozen, there will come a time when my sister and I will only have each other, and I will someday be her guardian. And just like Elsa’s fear of how she’ll be an effective Queen while still trying to conceal her powers, I wonder if I can be an effective guardian while still coping with fibromyalgia. If I have to, I can force myself to function.
I wish I had a “Let It Go” moment like Elsa had. A moment where I can embrace what I am instead of loathing myself for it. I wish I had a “Defying Gravity” moment. I am Elsa, and I am Elphaba. Withdrawn into loneliness because I am someone who people often misunderstand. I know that I am not the easiest person to get along with. I am clever, but I am sharp-tongued and opinionated. I am a talented writer, but I spend far too much time complaining about my condition. I wish I could turn all of that off, and be Elsa. “Here I stand in the light of day. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.”
But I am Elphaba. “Every so often we long to steal to the land of what might have been. But that doesn’t soften the ache we feel when reality sets back in.”
I am also Anna. I have known since the day my sister was born that if she were in danger, I would gladly sacrifice myself to keep her safe. If she needed me, I would give up everything and do what I can for her. In some ways, my sister is Elsa. Her autism sometimes makes it difficult for her to express herself. She will silently cry sometimes, and will not tell me why. I reach out to her, and sometimes she pulls away.
I do not talk about it very often, but I had another sister. I had her for only 31 days. And my parents gave me my living sister so that I would not be alone. It has been 15 years, but I still grieve the baby sister I lost. The pain dulls, but never goes away. And I never really know what to answer when people ask me how many siblings I have.
I will not lose another sister. She is mine, now and forever. And bless Frozen for knowing that the love between families, the love between sisters, is every bit as true, and every bit as powerful, as romantic love. That one person, that one miraculous person who shares everything that I am and everything that I will be, I truly love more than life. I am Elsa and she is Anna. She is Elsa and I am Anna. She is mine and I am hers. We are sisters.