Over on our sister site, The Gloss, there’s a series of images that Barneys commissioned for the holiday season, in which adored Disney characters like Minnie Mouse have been turned into “runway models.” Translation: they have been stretched within an inch of their cartoon lives, and, it seems, given an eating disorder. If this seems familiar, it’s because it just happened to Ursula the Sea Witch. A few years before that, it happened Strawberry Shortcake. But why? Why does every character need to slenderized and sexualized, just to be modernized? And, more importantly, can we collectively agree to knock it off?
In the case of today’s very-skinny Minnie, Daisy Duck, and Goofy, the creative minds at Barneys decided that the Disney character’s current physique just wasn’t cut out for a runway. So, just like the thousands of boys and girls each year who flock to New York to be discovered as high-fashion models, the characters seemingly went on starvation diets and got reaaaaal thin. Because duh, curvy figures like Daisy have no place stomping down the catwalk.
Slim female cartoon characters are nothing new–just think of Cruella DeVille, Ariel, Jessica Rabbit, etc.–but the decision to turn traditionally fuller-figured icons, like Minnie Mouse? That’s what gets me, and what I think we should probably consider not doing anymore.
Because really, what is the point? Why give children and adults alike a complex by showing that even cartoons aren’t safe from the body-snarking and pursuit of perfection that every woman and man, ever, falls pray to? To sell more clothes? To give more children terrible body image? I don’t think this is going to do it. I’m pretty sure that seeing Minnie, in all of her curvaceous glory, walking down the runway would be just fine with almost everyone.
Here’s the other problem–it’s not just cartoon characters who are slimming down. Last year, former Disney star (and eating disorder activist) Demi Lovato slammed the company’s casting choices, noticing that the stars on their television shows were getting “thinner and thinner.” Which, we found, is pretty much true, which means that young girls and women are pretty much only being given super-thin bodies to look at. Could this possibly be why 80% of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet at some point?
At this point, it’s unlike that Seventeen and similar magazines are really going to change their tune and stop being not-great role models for teens. But slimming down cartoon characters hits a much younger demographic. Even if these stylized Disney characters aren’t meant for kids, they’re going to be seen by kids, who are going to think that they are meant for them. And they’ll interpret the bodies they see not as “a cartoon,” but as “a body of someone that everyone loves, and thus, a good, beautiful, perfect body.” Kids think that way. I was jealous of Princess Jasmine’s flat stomach when I was a chubby kid. And if she’d been super-curvy and then way skinnier when I saw her later? It would have been even worse, because if she could lose weight, why couldn’t I?
Children–and little girls in particular–are already fighting an uphill battle to feel good about themselves. Stretching, slimming, and sexualizing characters whose shapes we know and love is doing a favor to exactly no one.
Image via The Gloss