Disney has sold enough Frozen dresses for every four-year-old girl in North America to be wearing one. Since the movie opened in November, the animation brand has sold 3 million Elsa or Anna dresses in North America (which is roughly equal to the number of four-year-old girls on the continent).
For anyone who’s managed to avoid the juggernaut animated tale, the plot of Frozen is about a fearless princess (Anna) who goes on a very snowy journey to find her estranged sister, the Queen of Arendelle (Elsa).
Anecdotally, Elsa dresses seem to be more popular than Anna ones, perhaps because her outfit is sparklier than her sister’s. She’s wrapped in icy blue and tulle, while Anna’s gown is a little more like one you might wear to Renaissance Fair.
On Halloween, beauty editor Alyssa Hertzig, who has a young daughter, ran a #ShowMeYourElsa contest on Instagram.
“I never dreamed that it would actually take off,” she wrote on her blog, The Sparkly Life. “I was honestly praying that at least 20 people would enter so that I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot. Then, people actually started to enter! I watched in awe as the numbers climbed over the weekend, adorable photo after adorable photo, until there were over 650 entries!”
One commenter wrote that out of the 700 kids in her child’s elementary school, 300 were dressed as Elsa.
Soon, grown-up women can get their own dresses, too: In January, Frozen wedding dresses go on sale for $1,200. The children’s versions cost closer to $50.
Do these massive dress sales, however, mean that—more than ever before—we’re the throes of so-called princess culture, or conditioning little girls (and big ones) to fixate on finding their Prince? Some experts point out that Frozen is a different story than the Prince-centered older ones, such as Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. The happy ending—spoiler alert—has nothing to do with a guy.
Still, Peggy Orenstein, the author of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” has said that even if the pretty gowns—and wanting to dress up in them—aren’t specifically for the purpose of fetching a charming fellow, they make girls focus on their appearance above all else.
“All these products at such an early age push girls to focus on how they look,” she told NBC. “And when girls get overly focused on appearance, we see things like distorted body images, eating disorders, poor sexual choices, depression, low-self-esteem. So it’s really important that girl learn to feel their feelings on their inside rather than focusing on how they look all the time.”
To combat this, she says to make it clear to your daughter’s that even though she’s lovely in her Elsa or Anna gown, you—and others—value her brain too. And maybe make her watch the GoldieBlox commercial where they punt princess dolls into space on a rocket, too.