Disney Has Introduced Its First Ever Plus-Size Heroine And It’s Causing Controversy For A Whole Lot Of Reasons

'Can we please have a plus size main character whose arc is not focused on her weight?' one viewer argued.

Disney Reflect

by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

Disney has introduced its first plus-size female heroine in a short film called Reflect, released today on streaming service Disney Plus. The six-minute animation will tell the story of Bianca, a young ballet dancer who attempts to conquer self-doubt and body dysmorphia.

Part of Disney’s Short Circuit series of experimental films, the animation was created and directed by Hillary Bradfield – who worked on Encanto and Frozen II. ‘Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place,’ Bradfield said about the theme of the short. ‘And that just makes the good place that much more beautiful.’

The short has been praised online for its message of body positivity, with one viewer tweeting ‘I wish I could have seen this when I was younger! But so happy things are changing!’

But alongside the disappointing but not surprising fatphobic reactions that see some question the suitability of a plus-size animation on-screen as sending the wrong message to young girls (and to that we say, it's Friday... take a day off please!), others are also sceptical that the film’s intention to help girls with body image issues will come through. Adam Bray, the author of the Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary, said the film ‘isn’t long enough to parse nuances of the message’.

Some also expressed disappointment that film centred on Bianca’s body image at all, rather wishing for a plus-sized protagonist who simply existed within their own storyline as opposed to needing to comment on her weight.

Disney has attempted to reframe is public image through the creation of more diverse animations in recent years. In 2020, it introduced the Stories Matter initiative, acknowledging Disney’s responsibility to ‘consciously, purposefully and relentlessly champion the spectrum of voices and perspectives in our world.’

Bianca’s story is one of many new animations to come, then - and already has certainly initiated much debate online about the impact characters like her can have on young generations, and the need for these stories to be told with as much empathy and nuance as possible.

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