The song “Let it Go” has grown on me.
When I first saw “Frozen” in the theatre, I thought “Let it Go” Â was a visually impressive number. Â I loved the images of Elsa gliding through Â the bluish snow and the ice palace rising around her. Â But for some reason the song itself didn’t grab me, though I did mentally applaud the singer for her impressive range. (I also thought, “Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the word ‘fractals’ in a song lyric.”)
But since then, I’ve heard it many times. Â I’ve had an increasingly hard time getting it out of my head. Â Just a few days ago I heard it playing in the pediatrician’s office, and I started singing along, which caused my seven-year-old to say politely, “Mom, could you stop singing?”
Because while he enjoyed the movie, he is sick of the song. Â “The girls ALWAYS sing it at recess,” he complained. Â I’m sure he’s right, because from what I hear from my friends who have girls, they love this movie with a passion that goes beyond the popularity of most Disney films
I’m a forty-one-year-old girl, and I can relate. Â This song gets me; it really does. Â And here’s my theory: Females understand this song in a way that guys don’t.
What’s the song about? Â It’s about a girl with a unique power she’s been told not to use. Â She’s different and her power can cause problems, so she learns to hide it. Â Then her gift accidentally comes out, and it’s scary and upsetting, but then she finally says the Disney equivalent of “Screw it. I’m tired of holding back. Â I’m going to let it rip.”
It’s a far cry from the Little Mermaid who, as a college friend of mine Â once memorably explained, gives up her voice to have the perfect body so she can get a man. “Let it Go” Â is about female empowerment. Â You actually hear a Disney princess singing, “That perfect girl is gone,” and it’s a good thing.
I love that.
We women have come a long way, but it’s still so easy to get into a “don’t rock the boat, don’t be a troublemaker”mode. Â Â I’m not saying women should stop Â being sensitive and compassionate, because sensitivity and compassion are qualities that I wish more people (men included) possessed. Â I’m saying that you can be sensitive and compassionate andÂ cause trouble. Â (In fact, Â compassion for others is probably the catalyst for most social justice work.) Â
A lot of the positive change in this world has come about through women who did cause trouble, who grew tired of being someone else’s Â idea of what it means to be perfect. Â You see this in the suffragettes, in the women of the Civil Rights movement, in so many places in history. Â These women probably each had to have their own “Let it Go” moment where they realized that they could no longer live the careful, fearful life they’d had before. Â I’m grateful they had the courage to smash through the expectations that held themselves and others back.
Now that I think about it, maybe boys can relate to this song more than I thought at first. Â My kids are so young that they haven’t yet started expressing pressure to be “the perfect male,” but I’m know that pressure does exist, especially as they reach the teenage years. Â But as a former girl, Â I know why this song is so popular with Matthew’s female peers. Â Even at a young age, girls can sense the need to fit into a narrow definition of “perfect,” be it in their behavior or their weight or their dress. Â I think there’s something in Elsa’s liberation from that that touches a chord, and powerfully.
Just recently, Matthew and I attended a birthday party for one of his female classmates. Â An hour or so in, two costumed and bewigged young women arrived, one dressed as Elsa and the other Anna. Â They gathered all the kids together and played the soundtrack and invited them to sing along to “Let it Go.” Â (they also supervised a fake snowball fight and painted faces.) Â I sang along too, and loved it, and Â I noticed several other moms doing the same.
It’s a message we can’t hear enough: When the perfect girl is gone, the real woman can come out.