24 October 2012

Skinny Minnie

Don't you just love puns?

A couple months ago, Yahoo! wrote an article about the Barney's Holiday Disney promo beginning mid-November that creates a high fashion "look" for iconic characters like Mickey, Minnie, Snow White, Goofy, etc. Other news sites like The Huffington Post also published similar commentaries about the effect this visualization would have on body image, especially in young girls. See for yourself:

(photo courtesy of Zap2It)

Was Minnie Mouse a great influence in body image before this makeover? Or Goofy? I'll admit that, as an avid viewer of Disney films, I dearly wanted Princess Aurora's hair and to sing under the sea like Ariel while residing in my castle with a GIANT LIBRARY (so jealous of Belle). Yet I always kept one key factor in the back of my mind: THEY ARE CARTOONS!!! How many women looked at this picture and thought "I wish I had Daisy Duck's legs."

While the Media is doing its typical "make something out of nothing" ploy using the Disney brand to lure readers-- works every time with me!-- the comments to these articles reach a new level of aggravation. A few sane reasonable individuals remind readers that "Hey! These are animals DRAWN (key word... actually maybe "animals" should be the key word) to look like people!" Yet most comments follow themes of not supporting Disney, how could Disney promote this body image to girls, they look like witless size 0 models (I kid you not, someone actually said that), who would buy this stuff, blah blah blah.  

First, Barney's is a super-high-end department store that sells designer clothing modeled by sky high beautiful people. These ads are focused on a specific demographic-- and that's ok! If you don't like the product, don't buy it. That being said, the clothing being "modeled" isn't made for children either-- this is an adult interpretation made to attract adults. Could it be that today's adults may have been children at one time and might be aware of Disney characters? Gasp!

Second, can we please get something straight: "skinny" does not equal stupid, nor does it equal unhealthy or signify an eating disorder. "Model" doesn't equal stupid either. Neither does "fat" for that matter. Let's focus on loving our own bodies just as they are so we can love others just as they are and teach that perspective on body image to kids. 

Third, teaching children the difference between cartoons and real people might be a good idea.

Most of all, there is general shock that Disney would allow such iconic toons to be interpreted in such a way. I'm assuming these people never heard of deviantART or visited my Disney Pinterest Board. And they haven't followed the history of Disney and the evolution of The Mouse either. Oh and they don't seem like fans of ARTISTIC INTERPRETATION.

Personally, I dislike the marketing campaign because I think the overall look is ugly. However, these altered Disney characters are a brilliant strategy by both Disney and Barney's because they're already generating publicity and controversy. Actually, I think Disney is embracing the beauty of artistic contention as a method of garnering attention (as long as it doesn't have strong negative material consequences). Check out the latest drama surrounding Sofia the First .

Perhaps, instead of calling out Disney's influence on body image, we need to dive deeper into the designer fashion industry. Or perhaps even deeper into the media's take on looks and health. Or dive deeper into how we shape our own personal body image, how we let others influence us, and weed out the focus on flaws. In general, negative comments about "fat people" reflect an ignorance on a person's struggle as well as all the different factors toward weight issues, and negative comments about "skinny people" reflects jealousy and more misunderstanding about the human body. Even the terms 'fat' and 'skinny' are subject to interpretation.

In conclusion: all this negativity is bad for the soul. Think positive and love yourself-- it's easier!

What do you think about Minnie and the gang? Does it call into question body image? Will it have any affect on children? I've shared my thoughts, but did I miss something?

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