Skinny Minnie Mouse draws protest

An online petition is aiming to stop a planned holiday window display featuring super-thin version of Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck in Barney's of New York's windows. The high-end retailer's display could lead girls to develop body image issues, a group which started the petition alleges.

Yahoo! Shine first reported on Skinny Minnie in August. The ad promotion, called Electric Holiday, centers around a Minnie Mouse dream sequence in which she fantasizes about what it would be like for she and her friends to be fashion models.

The petition author, Ragen Chastain, writes: "There is nothing wrong with tall thin women. There is something wrong with changing a beloved children's character's body so that it looks good in a dress that almost nobody looks good in -- adding to the tremendous pressure on young girls and women to attain photoshop (sic) perfection." Over 135,000 people have signed a petition at demanding that Barney's not go through with the window display and "return Minnie Mouse to her normal figure." Supporters include Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen and Disney heiress Abigail Disney.

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Nidia Tatalovich, a spokesperson for Disney, responded with a joint statement on behalf of Barney's New York and The Walt Disney Company: "We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a light hearted holiday promotion in order to draw media attention to themselves. They have deliberately ignored previously released information which clearly states this one-time promotion focuses on a three minute 'moving art' video showcasing traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence where she goes to Paris, dreams of briefly walking the runway as a model, and then awakens as her normal self happily wearing the same designer dress from the fashion show."

The spokesperson also explained that the thin Minnie appears only as part of video clip and not part of the window display. "The only place these interpretive versions of the Disney characters make an appearance is in the 3-minute moving art video and only briefly in a 7-second sequence." Tatalovich added, "At the end of the video, Minnie appears in her regular classic form wearing the same designer Lanvin dress that was in the dream sequence."

Women's Wear Daily reports that the decision to make Minnie and company skinny was seen as necessary by Barney's executives. Creative director Dennis Freedman said, "When we got to the moment when all Disney characters walk on the runway, there was a discussion. The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress. There was a real moment of silence, because these characters don't change. I said, 'If we're going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie,' and they agreed. When you see Goofy, Minnie and Mickey, they are runway models."

Assuming the petition doesn't stop the display, fans can see runway Minnie and company on November 14 at the Barney's flagship store in New York City.