It's no secret that Disney has gotten flak for its blond, white princess archetype, and now a Virginia teen has one more suggestion for the animated film company: Create a plus-size princess.
On January 24, Jewel Moore, a 17-year-old junior at Fuqua High School in Farmville, Virginia, launched a Change.org petition asking Disney to give us an interesting female character who isn't stick-thin. As of Friday afternoon, it had almost 2,000 signatures.
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"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," Jewel writes in the petition. "Disney films are highly influential and wide-spread, and they impact the lives of many children, especially girls. It would be revolutionary for Disney to show support to a group of girls who are otherwise horrendously bullied by the media."
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Jewel says that being a plus-size kid has been a struggle, and the point of her campaign is to help younger girls feel better about themselves. "I know the characters are just cartoons but they give girls their first impressions of real-life women," Jewel tells Yahoo Shine. "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."
Jewel had initially wanted to express her feelings to Disney in a letter, but she quickly realized that she needed backing in order to be taken seriously by the company. So, last Friday, while home from school on a snow day, she penned the petition.
Over the years, Disney has occasionally strayed from its classic princess aesthetic. Its 2012 Pixar film "Brave" focuses on Merida, a tomboy hero with wild, curly red hair, and 2009's "The Princess and the Frog" features a hardworking African-American waitress named Tiana (who eventually becomes the princess). And of course, there’s the 1995 flick "Pocahontas," which tells the story of the daughter of an Algonquin chief who falls in love with an English colonist, and 1998's "Mulan," about a Chinese warrior who leads her country to battle dressed as a man.
But rarely has the company rejiggered its classic, slim frame. "To be clear, I’m not asking for Disney to stop making thin princesses," says Jewel. "I would just like to see a princess with a different body shape. Where’s the pear-shaped princess? The short princess? The chubby princess?"
And although Jewel has received plenty of support from her friends, she admits to having experienced some backlash, too. "I’ve had a few people tell me that I should redirect my efforts to help women not look toward the media to gain their self-confidence," she says. "I wish women wouldn’t listen to the media, but that’s inevitable. If we can’t change people, we can at least start with animated characters."
And there’s one more group of people Jewel would like to reach with her petition: "I want little boys to see plus-size Disney princesses," says Jewel, "so they don’t grow up and think women they date have to look perfect." Smart girl!
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