Recently, a teenager set up an e-petition for Disney to make a plus-size princess. Jewel Moore, from Virginia, has said that the cause needs to be supported in order to ‘show support to a group of girls who are otherwise horrendously bullied by the media.’ The points Moore alludes to with regard to existing Disney princesses cannot be disagreed with; whether we look at the female protagonist of 1950′s Cinderella or whether we examine the character of Anna in Disney’s latest blockbuster, Frozen, it is notable that the figures of these princess/protagonists do not fluctuate but maintain a very slim figure. However, some argue that promoting a plus-size princess will be just as bad as the current promotion of ‘skinny’ princesses. So how can Disney win?
The influence that Disney exerts upon the children of today cannot be underestimated. From film to TV, from toys and dolls to games, Disney’s empire grows. Not to mention the many Disney stores around the world and the magnificent Walt Disney World in Florida. Essentially, Disney is everywhere and children almost live every day with the pressurising Disney orb that synchronously gratifies them whilst constructing utopian expectations to a vulnerable and undeveloped mind. Therefore, is it morally right to promote an unrealistic body image that millions of young girls will aspire to? This narrow representation of women doesn’t seem justifiable because how are women ever going to feel liberated in society regarding their size if they are exposed to such quixotic figures during their young, susceptible years?
Despite this, some argue that a ‘promotion’ of plus-size princesses could also be detrimental to society. The BBC reported last month that in the UK, 64% of adults are classed to be obese or overweight. North America had the highest figures with 70% of adults being classed as obese or overweight. With societies so affected by obesity, some ask will the use of plus-size princesses help this, especially with the power that we know Disney beholds? These comments, in my opinion, have to be firmly disagreed with, however. The introduction of plus-size princesses has nothing to do with any kind of promotion, but has much more to do with the acceptance of body shapes that differ from those shown currently by Disney, an institution where patriarchy has ingrained itself so firmly to the core of its heritage.
Swaying slightly from the topic of princesses’ aesthetics, there is a development of female mentality and personality in Disney films that is somewhat encouraging. The evolvement of the personality of the princesses must be noted and is displayed in 2013′s Frozen with Anna being somewhat clumsy and not the patriarchal construction of idealistic femininity that tended to thrive in the archaic Disney films. The feisty Merida from Brave is not to be forgotten either. Admittedly, this progress has taken its time but is promising to the hopeful change in the aesthetics of Disney princesses too.
I don’t think the issue here is that the inclusion of plus-size princesses will provide children with an incentive to become larger. I don’t think, either, that because Disney only seem to promote a very slim size, that we should suddenly rush to the other end of the spectrum. It is not one or the other. I do believe in the involvement of plus-size princess, but I also believe in the involvement of all sizes. Disney need to amble all the way up the body size spectrum and all the way back down again, to promote what society tends to forget about: acceptance. Ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities. These are all issues that need to be tackled. Just because The Princess and the Frog covered one of these and the iconic Princess Jasmine is Arabian, doesn’t mean Disney is done and dusted with equality.
We need as many different princesses as we can get. It is not a question of one or the other. We need a display of relatable princesses that do not encourage aesthetic alteration, but internal and external embracement. Forget the slim waist of Cinderella and the unblemished facial features of Snow White, children need to learn to love themselves. Warts and all.