Next Installment In The Disney Princess Debate: Plus Size Princess Anyone?

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In case you are wondering what the heck the “Disney Princess Debate” is, it’s a term we have coined for all the attention surrounding the Princess range, and the many ways ordinary people have raised their voice in concern as to how unrealistic they are.

And now there is another person joining this important conversation, Virginia teen girl Jewel Moore. The 17 year old from Farmville started a petition on Change.org asking Disney to include a plus size princess into their range. This story has certainly gone viral over the past week, with many different opinions about her petition. Does it promote obesity? Or rather, is she right in asking the animation giant to include different body sizes into the mix?

Jewel clearly states her cause is about confidence for young women, and recognizes that Disney Princesses have a heavy influence over girls and therefore should be responsible about the way they portray their characters.

“I made this petition because I’m a plus-size young woman, and I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positivie plus-size character in the media.”

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“Studies show that a child’s confidence correlates greatly with how much representation they have in the media. It’s extremely difficult to find a positive representation of plus-size females in the media. If Disney could make a plus-size female protagonist who was as bright, amazing, and memorable as their others, it would do a world of good for those plus-size girls out there who are bombarded with images that make them feel ugly for not fitting the skinny standard,” she states in the petition.

“Disney films are highly influential and wide-spread, and they impact the lives of many children, especially girls. It would be revolutionary for Disney to show support to a group of girls who are otherwise horrendously bullied by the media. It would make many young girls feel confident and worthy to see a strong character that looks like them. This move on Disney’s part would have an amazing positive ripple effect in people all around the world.”

Although there are varying opinions on this particular Disney Princess debacle, it is part of the greater issue. That is, Disney Princesses do not accurately reflect real life women, and a lot of people aren’t happy about that.

For example, Italian artist Alexsandro Palombo created a range of disabled Disney Princesses because he thought it was ridiculous that the Disney range only show women who are able-bodied. British artist David trumble created a new range of princesses, who are based on real-life female heroes such as Malala, Rosa Parks, Hilary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Marie Curie etc.

Moving away from artist impressions, there are others who have openly shown that Disney Princesses are damaging to a young girl’s view on the world, and try to dissuade girls from idolizing them. Texas photographer Jaime C Moore created a project where she dressed up her young daughter as real life female role models such as Coco Chanel and Amelia Earhart. The idea was that she wanted her daughter to aspire to something real as opposed to something fake and one-dimensional in character. And let’s not forget Mercy Academy girls school in Kentucky whose new campaign for enrollment was “Life’s not a fairytale. You are not a princess.” They too want their girls growing up with realistic aspirations in life and work toward a career that isn’t dependent upon a “prince charming”.

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So where does Jewel’s plus size princess fit in? She hopes it will encourage Disney to make characters that young girls can see themselves in.

“To be clear, I’m not asking for Disney to stop making thin princesses,” says Jewel. “I would just like to see a princess with a different body shape. Where’s the pear-shaped princess? The short princess? The chubby princess?”

“I wish women wouldn’t listen to the media, but that’s inevitable. If we can’t change people, we can at least start with animated characters.”

She’s right. Unfortunately the media and entertainment has a massive influence on children, so why not try and change it to be something that isn’t going to be a breeding ground for low self-esteem and confusion in young girls?

We think it is pretty telling that more and more people are trying to hack the old mold of the Disney Princess. When the tomboy princess Merida from Brave was given a “sexy” makeover, parents were up in arms. This was the first princess who openly stated that her aspirations in life weren’t about finding a man to marry, and that she enjoyed being adventurous, as opposed to attractive.

To be fair to Disney, they do have a range of ethnicities in the mix, which is a great start. This has been part of the princess range since the early 90s with Mulan and Jasmine. So here’s hoping they will notice of all the noise we are making. We want to see more diversity: shapes, sizes, and abilities.

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Celebrity makeup artist and mom to a young girl Stella Kae, who has openly blogged about her body image struggled says this about the petition: “I think its a great idea to represent ALL forms of women as ‘ideal’ because that’s how we come as women, in ALL forms, and every young girl deserves to feel beautiful. Being overweight isn’t always fun and it certainly isn’t always physically healthy. Yet it’s something almost HALF of our country struggles with on a daily basis. ”

“It’s not about encouraging someone to be this way or that way. Everyone should be encouraged to be HEALTHY; not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It’s about saying, hey–it’s ok to be you, JUST the way you are today…someone who looks like you is a princess who deserves love.”

She sums it up perfectly. If Disney is going to continue having a huge influence on future generations of girls, then they absolutely do have a responsibility to listen to their audience, and reflect a more diverse range of women in their movies. It’s not about whether having a plus size princess promotes obesity and unhealthy body standards, as the Daily Mail asks. It’s about Disney showing their fans they don’t have to be someone else to be celebrated or loved.

We are all a work in progress, but in the meantime, we would like to be able to watch our favorite movies, read a magazine and search the internet to find role models in all shapes and sizes.

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10 Comments

  1. I’m not sure about the plus size images, realistic yes, but only if they are healthy. One thing I have noticed is there is no bald women in Disney. They all have “big” hair. It might be a good idea if they added a new image that didn’t have hair, for those going through cancer. How’s that for a story line?

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  4. I want to be a model

  5. But all princesses are pear shaped, though..? With the exception of Aurora and Pocahontas who are more hourglass, Mulan who has a little less curves, and I think Elsa who is also a bit more hourglass the rest are pear shaped. Pear shaped means the ratio between hips and chest favours the hips more, that’s all. Plus Nani (yeah, not a princess, but meh) and Moana are more built.
    If by plus size this person asks for strong, bit wider set, more muscled, then sure why not? But if my plus sized she means fat, then I’m not ok with that. As some who is overweight I think it’s unhealthy to normalise overweightness. To normalise different body types as long as they are healthy is totally ok with me, though.

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