A Fat Disney Princess

I have a little confession. I’m thirty-two years old and I’m still in love with Disney. There’s nothing nicer than curling up on a Sunday afternoon with The Bloke, the cats and a bar of Dairy Milk Oreo ‘the size of my face’ to watch a Disney film.

Last year I posted a blog entitled ‘Why Carrie Bradshaw Needs A Slap’, which focused on Carrie’s lack of self-respect in SATC. I received a comment in reply to this post from Anna Allen Chappell, from the site ‘Pretty in Dixie’ about her dislike of Disney films for exactly the same reasons.

She’s absolutely right, and her comment opened my eyes. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that most of the Disney princesses’ strongest assets are essentially their looks and sexuality. With the exception of a few, most have the same characteristics – white, young, skinny and have a desperation to escape their current lives, and inevitably they achieve their ‘happy ever after’ because they are rescued by a man who is willing to do so because they are beautiful.

Disney always advertises the ‘love at first sight’ notion in their films. The beautiful princess meets the handsome prince and they fall instantly in love with each other. However, if Eric had seen an Ariel that weighed 250 lbs for the first time in ‘The Little Mermaid’, would he have experienced that same level of emotion? Quite possibly. But not in Disney. The overweight character is Ursula, the villain. Similarly, would all the other princesses have achieved their happy ending if they weighed considerably more? Would Aladdin have risked his life on many occasions to save Jasmine if she wasn’t skinny and wore her clothes hanging off her body? Would Philip have fought Maleficent if Aurora had a bottom the size of Brazil? (thank you Bridget Jones). If a 300lb Cinderella showed up to Prince Charming’s ball, would the prince have danced with her and then launched a nationwide hunt for her afterwards?

The argument certainly works both ways – Disney princes are often portrayed as attractive, strong and rich. I doubt that The Fairy Godmother would have gone to so much effort if Cinderella was attending a party hosted by ‘Nigel, the baker’s son’, or ‘Colin, the librarian’.

There are exceptions to this rule in that there a few strong, independent characters in Disney films, most notably Mulan and Rapunzel, but they aren’t an exception to the rule of beauty.

So do I think an ‘average’ princess is likely in a Disney film? Unfortunately, I think it is about as likely as a gay prince… But that’s another debate…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog. I’ve had a few messages from people asking if they could reblog, and you are all more than welcome to share this post with anyone who you may feel will enjoy it!

51 thoughts on “A Fat Disney Princess

      • Good choice. 🙂
        I recently enrolled on Deviantart. Do you have to check out with each submitter before using images or is the whole point of it to use and display elsewhere. I saw one I fancied using but wasn’t sure if it was ok to go ahead. So I ended up not bothering. 😉 x

  1. A very interesting observation, Suzie! I do wonder if we will ever see a ‘different’ kind of prince or princess in Disney’s Universe, treated with the same level and care as Ariel, or Cinderella. I also wonder if these characters have some sort of an impact on young viewers, teaching them what is perfect, and what is isn’t, in the eyes of the majority. It’s a worrying thought, and could be the topic of a serious debate! You’ve kick-started something here!

  2. I almost used this pic in one of my “Share Your World” posts but I figured I would get backlash.

    Have you seen the Disney princesses before and after airbrushing series? I think I found it on Buzzfeed or Neatorama originally.

  3. I am still in love with Snow White, she is my ideal woman, honest, sweet, hard working, beautiful sinhing voice. But isnt that what 1930’s female suppose to be like, attentive to her duties, cleaning, washing, sewing, fixing and mending and with all that able to look after 7 total strangers who all have the disadvantage of being little people and she has not a tattoo in sight.

    Disney did a good job even though he was antisemitic, homophobic, racist and a possible paedophile. The film Dumbo an enchanting film but the 3 black crows given the voices of supposed black men, in fact the black voices were done by African American actors, except for Jim his voice was done by a white man Cliff Edwards, who also did the voice of Jimmny Cricket the crow in charge was called Jim, “Jim Crow” is the nickname given to segregationist laws ratified in the Southern states after the American Civil War and during the Reconstruction.

    Critics played down the 3 crows and many said it was the most enchanted film to come out of the Disney Studio. Dumbo saved Disney as they lost so much money from the Mickey Mouse film Fantasia flop…
    Yes I am a geek lol 🙂

    • The opening scene of Dumbo is considered to be the most racist part of a Disney film ever created… I had a really interesting discussion with someone about it last year…

      • It was when segregation was at its height black seat and white seats was the norm on a bus, white cafe and black cafe was standard, even at the start of WWII black troops were not trained for combat, they were given the more menial jobs and even during Vietnam black troops were called cannon fodder.
        During WWII a lot of black GI’s came to the UK and found they are welcomed with open arms, freedom to walk down the street, freedom to dance in the dance halls with white women, some black GI’s even went on to father children with British white women, when it came to the end of the war the black GI’s were forbidden to take their white girl friends and child back to the US, a few escaped under the wire and a few stayed in the UK, but many women were left here with their children of mixed race. I watch a documentary on the BBC about it.
        Having not seen the Dumbo in such a long time I found this paragraph that mentions the start of the film and the racism found in it

        ‘At the beginning of the movie, there is a scene where the circus is being set up. In this scene not only are the animals helping with the work, but also faceless black men are seen setting up. Their faces are completely featureless with no eyes, mouth, or nose. they possess no individual identities at all. This is characteristic of the time period because the 1940s was before the Civil Rights Movement, and although there was no slavery, blacks were still segregated and considered as lesser people at the time.’

        Jungle Book is another all the characters are given very British accents except for King Louie, who wanted to become a ‘Real Person’ who had a black accent said to be loosely based on Louie Armstrong.
        In 1989 film ‘Little Mermaid’ a Jamaican-sounding crab teaches Ariel that life is better “Under the Sea,” because underwater you don’t have to get a job. The song that the crab sings is:
        ‘Up on the shore they work all day
        Out in the sun they slave away’

        Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_15677_the-9-most-racist-disney-characters.html#ixzz2sqHVU2rg

        Not many black people would have even been able to see the early Disney film as most of American cinemas ran a whites only policy not by choice but by companies such as Disney owning the theatres. Even today Disney Corporation is still the most influential production companies in America, possible the world, even today they are producing racist and stereotypical animations, they don’t do it in their live movies. I wonder why? Is it because animations don’t have a voice?

  4. This is certainly something to think about….but I think Disney is getting a little better. After all, many of the princesses are from different time periods. Snow White and Aurora are earlier princesses, so it is probably not surprising that they are less independent (wasn’t Snow White from the 1940’s?)…Mulan and Rapunzel are newer princesses, so I think that independent streak is showing that women nowadays are more independent. Also, the princess from Frozen (whose name I forget at the moment) is pretty independent herself…going after her sister in her ball gown (though maybe she should have put on a coat first).

      • I think Disney is starting to get a little better, but of course there is still room for improvement. The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were my two favorite Disney princess movies…Belle was a bookworm (And I can identify with that), and Ariel was super curious (again, something I can identify with). Plus, I loved Belle’s golden dress. 😉

  5. So, I’m considered a senior citizen and I’m also still in love with Disney. You make a good point, but Disney is all about fantasy.

    • You’re absolutely right… I sometimes have these random thoughts so I jot them down here – I’ve had some fabulous discussions because of it!

  6. You are right. All these handsome Prince’s constantly rescuing fair maidens puts a ton of pressure on us regular guys. Would the Princesses be so eager to run off with their rescuer didn’t have a square jaw and six pack abs? I’m going to have to talk to the Disney folks about this terrible male stereotyping.

  7. I agree Disney is all about fantasy but my husband thought I was good looking ( not beautiful as his rose coloured glasses didn’t work that well) and I wouldn’t have changed him for Brad or George . I am 75 and still enjoy fantasy where , after adversity , comes happiness. I like ‘Enchanted’ and ‘ Tangled’. Really enjoy your outlook on life.

  8. What really gets me about Disney is that the bad guys always have a very sophisticated English BBC accent that you could cheese with. On the other hand, the handsome prince, adventurers and saviours are always American.

  9. If you’ve ever noticed, most villians in all movies and books are unattractive in some sense, male villians as well. Like the bad guy in Jurassic Park (overweight, slovenly, and greedy). Goes with the territory…. you need the reader/viewer to see the villian as the dredges of society, and unfortunately, those are who we see that way. Has irked me for a long time, almost as much as how every alien is usually a biped (have our writers so little imagination?).
    However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Have you seen Disney’s movie Frozen? Not to spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it, but the main character (a young woman much as you describe all Disney’s young women) is saved at the end, but not by a man. The ending is fantastic, and family is emphasized. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. Best on a big screen, beautiful scenery.

  10. I actually disagree with most of your points in this post. I started typing up a reply last night and it’s turned into like a 3000 word essay. So, um, I’ll be working on that and posting it up in the next few days.

  11. In the old Cowboy movies you could always tell the “bad guys” they wore black hats. But I remember in one movie where the characters discussed the formula for Adventure Movies – “Kill the Bad Men – Rescue the Beauliful Woman – Save the World” Still works!

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  13. This is something that has captured my attention more dramatically since having my little girl. There aren’t many stories out there that portray young girls with goals and skills (aside from Merida in Brave). What’s more, they don’t portray boys and girls interacting as equals. Why does someone always have to be doing the rescuing? Why don’t they team up and fight the forces of evil together? That’s what real relationships are–two equally capable people working as a team.

    Love this, Suzie! Thanks for writing!

  14. I can see myself sitting in a theater, popcorn in one hand, Pepsi in the other, waiting for the PC remake of The Little Mermaid to start. Here she comes, the ample Ariel shown above. I smile and cheer, and turn to the person next to me. Oh. There is no person next to me. I put my popcorn on the empty seat and turn to my left. That seat’s empty, too. I put my Pepsi there so I can applaud wildly. Then I notice that the theater is empty except for me. “Why?” I ask myself, “Why?” A cricket chirps.

  15. Great post! I love Disney too and this opened my eyes as well. You’re so right. I was thinking about Quasimodo and how I liked the message in that movie – what makes a monster and what makes a man? It’s all about marketing though with Disney.

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  19. We’ve grown into a world filled with perfect illusions right from the start. The kids in your toddlers’ books were proper and neat (or where taught a lesson telling them to be so), mummy and daddy took their little ones to the zoo, grandma read them stories and grandpa built a tree house. If there came up any kind of complication, it was solved in the end and everyone lived happily ever after. Being overweight means that something is wrong and that just doesn’t fit into a picture-perfect world which aims to sell to children. I think the little ones wouldn’t like fat Disney princesses, although they are quite aware that their best friend next door struggles with her weight as well. It doesn’t mean that children don’t accept real-life problems, they just separate them from TV realms. It’s alarming, but perhaps an explanation.

  20. There are so many things that are wrong with the American cartoons. They teach wrong values. Violence, greed, self centeredness, over excessive competitiveness, and yes, obsession with physical beauty. I prefer to show my little one more balanced European and Asian cartoons. As for princesses, their other problem is that they teach kids that you need to be picked, to be successful in life. We need cartoons about self made people, people who took risk and won, normal average people and also people whose achievement is self improvement and serving others and spreading kindness and love.

  21. That’s one of the reasons I love “Shrek”. The happy ending is that the skinny white Barbie-doll princess turns into a full-figured woman of colour (green, in this case), *and she’s much more attractive that way*. Of course, “Shrek” isn’t Disney, but there’s hope for Disney, too.

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