Does Disney Set an Unrealistic Standard of Natural Thermoregulation?

Background: my family is interesting (in a good way . . . sometimes). We saw Frozen, and while we all thought it was awesome, my mom had some concerns. Not about portrayals of romance, beauty, or power, but about the characters’ clothes not being heavy enough: “they’re gonna get hypothermia in those dresses!” Here’s what the world might be like if everyone was my mom:

Disney’s latest animated movie, Frozen, has raised controversy related to its portrayal of characters insufficiently dressed for the surrounding climate. Parents and advocacy groups warn that these types of media images can fuel already occurring, unhealthy trends of flip-flop-clad teenagers in below-freezing weather.

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Cold doesn’t bother you? Well it should.

Advocates have expressed concern that children of all genders are exposed to images of inadequate wardrobes, but Lisa Burns, head of the advocacy group Parents for the Representation of Sweaters, worries particularly about the lack of female role models demonstrating seasonally-appropriate clothing choices. She notes that while Kristoph, the movie’s primary male character, first appears in boots and a fur coat, suggesting that men can be both well-insulated and successful, the movie’s princesses are shown enduring blizzards in dresses with dangerously thin fabric. “I just want my daughters to see that real women wear earmuffs,” she says.

Childhood development specialist Andrea Frost claims that the unrealistic standard of natural thermoregulation imposed by Disney on young girls is simply dangerous. She points to the chorus of “Let it Go” a musical solo performed by Queen Elsa in which she proudly declares “the cold never bothered me anyway.” “Young women should know that not only is it normal to be bothered by extremely cold temperatures,” Frost explains, “but also that these temperatures can cause frostbite, hypothermia, and even organ failure, especially in the absence of heavy clothing. Unprotected cold is not something we should be glorifying as a society.”

Despite the criticisms, Frozen has become Disney’s second highest grossing animated film and has received praise for its animation and musical numbers. Disney representatives have yet to comment.

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