by Ty Slobe
It seems that even the animated women of Disney are subject to the negative body images that we are all subject to by the photoshopped images of the media. Many of them are going to drastic lengths to lose weight and fit in with the unrealistic models of Teen Vogue, with some characters losing as much as two-thirds of their body weight while simultaneously sexing up their images with slinkier, tighter-fitting, clothing.
Oh wait, no. Disney characters are not real people, meaning that they are not actually subject to the magazine images in the same way that every human woman is. Somebody is consciously making the decision to make Disney cartoon characters slimmer and slimmer, increasing the number of unrealistic and altered bodies that little girls already see every day.
Take a look at Minnie Mouse, the latest Disney character to undergo drastic bodily changes. This version of the beloved Minnie Mouse was created for a Barney’s window display. Does it seem strange to you that a classically childish figure such as Minnie would be sexified like this for the sake of a department store’s window? Yes. Little girls love her because she is a little girl just like them—not because she is an outrageously trendy sex goddess.
Or consider The Little Mermaid’s Ursula, who recently lost the majority of her body weight for the sake of Disney’s new Villain Line. Ursula used to be one of the few voluptuous Disney characters—which in itself is a problem considering that she is a Disney villain—but now it seems that no character, good or bad, is safe from Disney’s obsession with obnoxiously small waists.
None of this is really all that new to children’s characters. Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer was slimmed down and made into a trendy, more traditionally feminine, adolescent back in 2009—suggesting to her fans that there is something wrong with being a short, rounded, relatively gender neutral little girl; the same thing that is happening this year with characters like Barney’s Minnie Mouse and Ursula.
The strangest and most dangerous thing about these cartoon-body makeovers is that they are clearly targeting an extremely young audience, toddlers even! Why do these designers feel the need to tell young girls that it is not okay to be short and still have your baby fat, like the former Dora the Explorer and Minnie Mouse? This kind of marketing is exactly the sort of thing that is contributing to the fact that 42% of 1st-3rd graders want to be thinner. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that hospitalizations of girls younger than 12 years old for eating disorders are up by 119% from 1999 to 2006. These statistics are terrifying.
If you thought that beauty magazines were only harming the body images of teen girls you would be terribly wrong. The AED (Academy for Eating Disorders) recently came out with a statement condemning the Barney’s Minnie Mouse Display as well, claiming that, “Viewership of such images is associated with low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction in young girls and women, placing them at risk for development of body image disturbances and eating disorders”.
Disney is a company that intentionally targets younger audiences, and the recent re-dos of some of their female character’s bodies are nothing short of shameful. These characters should be teaching girls that they can do anything, to think positively of themselves, to give examples of successful women in all shapes and sizes. Little girls deserve better role models.
If you’re interested in speaking out against Barney’s Minnie Mouse display you can sign this petition at Change.org