Disney has developed a nasty habit over the years.
Since the release of Snow White in 1938, little girls have fawned over the idea of being a princess. With each movie featuring royalty that hit theaters, tiara sales skyrocketed as toddlers and children alike aspired to be just like the beautiful, seemingly perfect women on screen. As girls enter into their teenage years, they tuck away their ballgowns and begin to model their appearance off of singers and movie stars. Many people are critics of the media placing unrealistic body expectations on adolescent girls, but I believe that can be traced back to the days of wide-eyed, three-year-old Disney movie dreaming.
According to Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, negative body images start terrifyingly young. 69% of elementary and high school girls model their ideal body type off of magazine pictures and the media. The organization also reports that “81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat”. At ten years old, I was in fifth grade. I remember one of my close friends confiding in me that they were dieting with their mom at our lunchtime in the cafeteria and I was dumbfounded. I had hardly heard of anyone wanting to diet or lose weight, especially at that age. After that, I noticed it increasingly more. My peers and I grew up in an era where weight loss was desirable and necessary if you wanted to be “beautiful”. Again, this is a critique of the media, and it begins when parents pop in a Disney princess movie in the DVD player.
The left side of the picture above is a still from the newly released live-action “Cinderella”. I’ve become accustomed to seeing the skinny waists of animated princesses throughout my childhood, but when I saw what that looked like in real life, I felt appalled. I think of the little girls I babysit who twirl around their houses humming a pretty little tune, trying mimic the princesses on the screen down to a tee. It’s unrealistic. Lily James, who plays Cinderella, denies the accusations of Disney altering her waist with CGI technology, but she reported that she had to go on a “liquid diet” in order to fit into the extremely restricting corset needed to achieve the age-old “Disney body”. The right image is an artist rendering of what the actress’ normal waistline would look like. James’ real body is not unattractive. What I find unattractive is the left side, where it looks like Cindy’s organs are being squished in that itty-bitty corset, about to topple over like a disproportionate bobble head.
Furthermore, James stated that she had a “foot double” squeezing into the iconic glass slippers to give the illusion of the minuscule feet the princesses are know for. Disney characteristics go beyond just a tiny waist and flat stomach; below is a picture of a normal female body versus a Disney princess.
And if you were curious what Ariel would look like with normal, human sized eyes:
It sickens me that Disney artists feel the need to create such unrealistically proportioned women to be “beautiful”. It seems hypocritical that the company is attempting to make perfect role models (intellectual Belle, kind Snow White, independent Tiana), yet creates a physical image that cannot be achieved in a healthy manner.
The closest Disney has ever come to a real, normal girl is Nani from “Lilo and Stitch”, Lilo’s sassy and caring older sister. Below Nani is pictured, and for once Disney animators weren’t afraid to give a girl curves, larger thighs, and a bit of a pudgy belly hanging over her cut-off jeans.
This is a realistic representation of the female body and Disney needs to incorporate more girls like this into their movies, particularly the princess ones. I’ve never seen a little girl running around their house with a surfboard screaming in an excitedly shrill voice, “Mommy, Mommy! I wanna be just like Nani!”. Princesses and other prominent characters need to be modeled after real people so the impractical expectations placed on female image don’t start at such a young age.
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, but Disney princess is not one of them.