Frozen 2 Is A Fairy Tale Love Story We Can Get Behind
When I took my kids to see Frozen 2, I expected a silly singing snowman, a queen with magical ice powers, and some awkward yet endearing scenes featuring the voice of our national treasure, Kristen Bell. I expected two strong female leads killin’ it on their second cinematic adventure, and crossed my fingers for more powerhouse vocals from Idina Menzel.
I got all of that. It was incredible.
I never expected that I would leave feeling such a deep connection to the love story in this film. So much of the way Kristoff relates to Anna reminds me of the best parts of my marriage. I texted my husband the minute I left the theatre and told him we had to go back and see it together. That’s exactly what we did.
Princess Anna and Kristoff are still in love. Only this is not some vapid, fairy tale love. If we want to see damsels in distress and their male saviors, we can read or watch pretty much any love story from history, because that’s how it’s played out since time immemorial.
This is different. Anna has grown into a confident woman of strength, and Kristoff is here for it. All of it.
Kristoff’s love for Anna is real and modern and supportive. I mean, look at this exchange:
Anna: “I’m sorry I left you behind. I was just so desperate to protect [Elsa.]”
Kristoff: “I know. I know. It’s okay. My love is not fragile.”
My love is not fragile.
Are you kidding me? This is AMAZING.
THIS is the kind of thing our kids deserve to hear when romantic love takes center stage. Our kids need Kristoff’s example because he is strong without insecurity. He’s strong alongside his partner. He’s a man of character, making hard decisions, risking life and limb, and being the willing, capable companion that Anna needs. He never asks her to walk behind him.
That’s what a partner should be. I don’t want my kids to see a role reversal, with a strong female lead and a weak male lead. That gets us nowhere. The idea that a couple should be comprised of one pitiful disaster and one brave savior is a mess regardless of gender.
I want my kids to see love that makes sense on screen, but also in real life. My boys need to see a man standing behind his strong partner, just as they see their father standing behind me in my moments of greatness.
I want my daughter to see that anyone who is worthy of her is going to be impressed by her, not intimidated. The person she loves should want to see her do things that are brave and amazing. If she can’t fully flourish at her absolute best with the companion she chose, that person isn’t loving her the way she deserves to be loved.
Kristoff never asks Anna to be less than she is. That is what real love looks like. A supportive, loving partner knows that you sacrifice none of your own strength when you choose to defer to your capable partner’s experience. A real, healthy lover shouldn’t need you to feign weakness to make them feel stronger. Your strength should never have to be reliant on their own.
Kristoff knows what many fairy tale men have missed: His masculinity doesn’t depend on antiquated ideals. He can be a whole person with all the complicated emotions that come with love.
Men don’t have to be brave and protective. Women don’t have to be soft and gentle. Everybody experiences deep, confusing emotions, and everyone is capable of being brave and conquering their personal mountains.
Doing those things with a partner who just gets you is what everyone who chooses to commit to another person deserves. Life is too short for frail egos and unsupportive partners.
My husband knows this well. He has plenty of moments where he gets to swoop in to rescue me. Maybe he’s not out here saving me from giant rock monsters, but my kids routinely see him capturing a giant spider so I won’t have to face my fear, or reaching something on the highest shelf because I’m physically not able to reach it myself. They know that sometimes a woman might need help from a man and there’s nothing wrong with that
But they also see me rescuing my husband when he needs it. They’ve heard me passionately defend him when I perceive that someone has done him wrong. They have watched me create space for him when he needs time alone, protecting his solitude to give him a few minutes to regroup.
They know a man can need help from a woman too. Everyone needs support. It doesn’t make anyone weak. It makes everyone stronger.
Kristoff’s love for Anna is not fragile, but it is tender.
Anna and Kristoff still take us to the magical place where fairy tale love is meant to take us. Their love lacks no softness or romance. It’s all the good things storybook love has always been. It’s still dreamy and enviable and sweet.
We also see glimpses of imperfection in their dynamic. We just never see one inherently weak partner and one inherently capable one, thankfully.
That imperfect dynamic is really the crux of what makes this love story so beautiful and relatable. It’s not all tidy and perfect.
We see them bicker and lose sight of one another and endeavor on their own. But they return to one another’s arms without showing signs of mistrust or intimidation. They already knew they chose a partner who can make it alone. They don’t need each other to be whole, but they choose each other anyway because that’s what true love is. Finding the person who is willing to jump in next to you, walk behind you or lead the way depending on what you need.
There’s this beautiful moment when Kristoff calls Anna the most extraordinary person he’s ever known.
The fully human, flawed, quirky woman he loves is his idea of extraordinary. And not just extraordinary; the most extraordinary person he’s ever had the privilege of knowing. He says this in front of her sister and his best friend. Kristoff isn’t ashamed to be completely taken with her. He has nothing to prove to anyone but the love of his life.
Despite the many other poignant moments in this movie, this is when I finally shed a few tears. I was just overcome with gratitude when I realized that I knew how Kristoff felt. My husband is impossibly kind and reliable and gentle and passionate. I probably have never called him the most extraordinary man I’ve ever met, but in that moment, I felt lucky enough to understand how this kind of fairy tale love feels. That was humbling and beautiful to me.
Because that is love. Un-self-conscious, unashamed recognition of everything that is amazing and unique and beautiful in your partner. Love isn’t a mess and a hero coming together to fill each other’s gaps. Love is two whole, strong people choosing to trust one another’s greatness. Partners who are there to rescue one another in equal measure. Lovers willing to be vulnerable, apologize, reassure one another and take on the world. A partnership should be softness and strength, individual accomplishment and collective achievement. True love isn’t fragile. It’s durable and confident.
Real, modern, committed lovers get it.
Kristoff gets it, too.
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