Disney screwed up this week. Big Time. Twice. Retailer Barneys has announced a holiday display featuring the Disney character Minnie Mouse, who has a disturbingly disproportionate and unhealthy body at 5’11” and a size 0. Wow. But wait, there’s more! A model-like Daisy Duck and Goofy are also featured.
Of course super-skinny models are nothing new in the fashion industry, but the real problem comes with Barneys and Disney deciding to take icons for little girls (and boys) and turn them into some type of idealistic model. It gives them the impression that skinny is the only way to be and provides an unrealistic image of what they’re supposed to look like.
The reason for the Disney character makeovers? “The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress,” said Barney's creative director Dennis Freedman. Call me crazy, but maybe Minnie Mouse wasn’t created to wear Lanvin.
You know what’s a great idea? “Rather than making fashion for realistic body types, designers have used computer animation to make grotesque caricatures of the human body. This ‘re-imagining’ turns children's favorite characters into emaciated, impossibly-proportioned supermodels,” says consumer watchdog SumOfUs.
This week Disney also announced their newest princess Sofia is Latina, but only after a blogger asked executive producer Jamie Mitchell at a press conference why Sofia’s mother has darker skin than any of the other characters. When Disney first announced their new show Sofia the First, there was no mention of her race.
For some great feedback on the decision by Disney, check out Feminist Disney, and the post about Princess Sofia. The blogger points out that when she first heard of Princess Sofia, there was absolutely no mention of her as being Latina. There is the argument coming from a lot of people, including Latina women, that it is totally possible for a Latina girl to look like Sofia.
While this is true, the cynic in me feels like Disney only marketed her as being Latina after some realization that they needed more diversity. After all, there is no mention of her heritage in the show. There is nothing indicating her as Latina except for the fact the Disney says she is.
“We never actually call it out,” said Joe D’Ambrosia, vice president of Disney Junior original programming. “When we go into schools [to talk to young students about the show], what I find fascinating is that every girl thinks that they’re Sofia.”
Of course it’s fascinating to him because every girl that relates equals more girls watching the show equals more girls wanting Sofia merchandise equals DISNEY MAKING MORE MONEY! WOW, so fascinating. That’s something that makes me so mad about this whole thing. Had they just started with a Latina princess, that would have been great. Had they started with a Latina princess and included her heritage in the story, even better. But Disney suddenly marketed a presumably white princess as Latina to get a wider target audience to get more money. Disney has become so great at exploiting cultures to help themselves.
One of the most interesting things I heard come out of the discussion was the idea that the image that came with the original Disney announcement had Sofia in a more demure pose, but after they announced she was Latina, she stood in a more “sassy” pose. Both pictures are still coming from Disney though, so I don’t know how much truth there is to that.
Princess Sofia and Her Mother
On a semi-related note, I’d like to point out that as a girl, I enjoyed the Disney princesses, but I can’t say that I was super into them. I do think that they can have value to girls aspiring to be something more, or those who maybe need an escape (as I think it provided for me). But as a woman, I do see many more of the negative aspects of Disney Princesses. If you want to keep updated on feminist issues in Disney, I highly suggest following Feminist Disney. My current views are more along the lines of those of the hilarious videos posted by The Second City Network on YouTube (the creators of Sassy Gay Friend). The “Advice for Young Girls” videos include Snow White, Belle, and the Little Mermaid. My inclination is to laugh, until I remember that most of the jokes are only funny because they’re true. Check it out here:
Images via Courtesy Photo, disneydreaming.com and disney.com.
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.
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