Disney’s Distorted Message

As a self-proclaimed child of the 90’s, I grew up in the age of Disney. I watched Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Mulan and was inspired by the strong women who determined their own destinies and lived with the consequences. Upon hearing that Barney’s New York had teamed up with Disney for a high-energy, high fashion holiday campaign, dubbed Electric Holiday by its creators, I was excited to see what they would produce.

Unfortunately, the teaser images that were released at the end of August have caused more disappointment and controversy than excitement. Favorite childhood characters have been re-imagined to fit the image of the runway models they are portraying. In the 3D film to accompany this campaign, Minnie wishes to go to Fashion Week in Paris and imagines herself there with friends. Only photos of Minnie, Goofy, and Daisy have thus far been released, but the trend is not promising.

Characters that were round, bubbly, and sweet have been starved and stretched into anorexic versions of their former selves. Gone are Minnie’s polka dots and bows and in their place is a slim fitting, short cut, ruffled Lavin dress. Strappy stilettos and elbow length gloves complete her outfit. Although the fashion industry claims thin bodies take less away from the clothes than curvier forms, if Minnie Mouse is modeling your garment, she is going to be the center of attention, no matter what. Her image has had greater worldwide recognition than any designer going back to her days dating Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie.

Creative director on the project Dennis Freedman said, “The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lavin dress.” The average woman today may not look good in what Minnie is wearing for this campaign, but suggesting that she should change herself so that she will is where the problem lies. Freedman went on to say “If we’re going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie,” and the rest of the team agreed.

While Minnie and Daisy have clear differences in proportions, Goofy looks surprisingly unaltered. He has always been a sort of gangly character, and maybe that trait set him up well for this project. The image Goofy portrays is young and current in an almost ‘hipster-ish’ way. The other characters to be included in the November debut are Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Princess Tiana, and Cruella de Vil. It will be interesting to see if the human characters will be altered for the runway or left in their current forms. Mickey, whose short, rotund figure is not that of a model, will also have major artistic decisions and implications.

Minnie and Daisy are not the first characters to be dressed by big names. Miss Piggy had clothes designed for her by the likes of Zac Posen and Burberry for her recent role in The Muppets Movie. This fashion forward swine even has her own pair of Christian Louboutin heels. However, unlike Minnie and Daisy, Miss Piggy’s clothes were designed to fit her body, a body whose curves have been the punch line of more than one joke, yet she wears them with the grace, confidence, and poise we have come to expect from a diva like her.

This is not Disney’s first faux pas in the world of image and weight. This past January, they opened a new attraction at Epcot called “Habit Heroes” aimed to teach healthy lifestyle habits to guests of the park. Through the attraction, villains such as The Snacker, Sweet Tooth, Ice Cappuccino, and Lead Bottom were introduced and then defeated by the heroes Will Power and Callie Stenics. Disney and their partner Blue Cross Blue Shield caught major backlash for this attraction and were accused of ‘fat shaming’ and ‘picking up where the bullies left off.’ The website and exhibit have since been closed for updates after their initial soft opening.

I am disappointed in Disney for allowing their classic characters to be forced into unrealistic proportions. Young girls who see these Electric Holiday ads might be upset that their own legs aren’t miles long and spindle thin. Yet, without Disney Magic, the bodies portrayed would be unable to walk the catwalk due to simple physics. I think we should all take a lesson from Miss Piggy who knows that, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may become necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

To read more about the Disney’s Electric Holiday and the Habit Heroes (and see these controversial photos!), click the links below:









By: McKenzie Roddy