Ask any nostalgic millennial woman about her favorite movie characters from childhood and her answer will almost certainly include a Disney princess or two. However these same Disney movies have been under fire recently for their unrealistic depictions of these young princesses. With smooth hair and small, even miniscule wrists and waists, what message is sent to young women about their own appearance and bodies?
On January 24, a high school junior from Farmville, Virginia started a petition that questions Disney’s lack of body diversity. Jewel Moore, 17, is asking Disney to feature a plus-sized princess in a movie. “I made this petition because I’m a plus-size young woman,” Moore says on the Change.org page, “I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positive plus-size character in the media.”
“Studies show that a child’s confidence correlates greatly with how much representation they have in the media,” Moore continues. “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.”
In an article about Moore, Huffington Post: Teen cited a recent study that found that two-thirds of 13-year-old girls fear gaining weight. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, over half of teenage girls engage in weight control behaviors that are unhealthy and dangerous.
“I know the characters are just cartoons but they give girls their first impressions of real-life women,” Moore told Yahoo Shine on Friday. “Now that I’m almost an adult, cartoons don’t impact my confidence, but I have small cousins and I want them to see a wide representation of women. If plus-size girls see characters that look like them succeed, it would show them that they can do anything.”
In recent years, Disney has begun to include more diverse figures in their much-loved princess movies. Perhaps Moore’s idea will spark the next Disney classic for a new generation of young girls.
As of Saturday morning, Moore’s petition had over 6,000 signatures from eager supporters.