When I was a little girl, I never believed that the women at Disney world were really the princesses, but I thought they were as close as I’d get. I wanted to grow up to work in the parks, as Belle or Snow White. I was EVEN willing to dye my hair blonde to be Aurora or Cinderella, and I’d be lying if I told you I never thought about tanning and going for Pocahontas. That was my dream as a little girl, but there was one problem.
There are no fat princesses, and no way are you getting that job unless you looked exactly right.
Since my favorite film and TV moments are in Will and Grace, The Secret Garden, and the Power Puff Girls (I know, give me a break with the combination) I grew up open to many things. Just off the top of my head from these, that includes homosexuality, disabilities, and cross-dressing Satan lobsters. I think kids being exposed to real life, in harmless doses, is a good thing.
A study conducted in 2009, by psychology professor Stacey Tantleff-Dunn and doctoral student Sharon Hayes from the University of Central Florida, just before the release of “The Princess and the Frog,” unveiled some concerns young girls have. When asked what you should look like to be a princess, most of the girls involved in the study included light skin, being thin, and being pretty. One aspect of the study even included a series of pictures the girls were shown- all of ballerinas of various weights and body shapes- of which they were asked to point out the ‘real’ princesses. 50% of the little girls in this study chose the thinnest ballerinas. Every girl in the study was between the ages of 3 and 6.
Additionally, the ‘playmates’ that directly worked with these young girls during the experiments were instructed to work into their chat whether the young girls ever worry about being fat. 31% of these young girls said they always worry about it, another 18% said they sometimes do. That’s not so bad, right? We have 51% of girls who are okay with how they look and never worry about it. If I told you 51% of girls never heavily considered suicide while 49% did, would that be okay? No, it wouldn’t be.
In another 2009 study, by researchers at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, it was found that teenagers who viewed themselves as a weight-extreme, be it far too skinny or too large, were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than ‘normal’ teens. By stopping this body image problem before it has a chance to start, we could save thousands of lives. Nipping this problem in the bud is easier said than done when they start at four years old, and the idea that a company as influential as Disney could help perpetuate acceptance of more bodies would be an amazing step towards a body positive world for all children.
Now for those of you that would argue that ‘being fat isn’t something you need to overcome!’, maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s something to embrace and celebrate and not work past. Keeping fat out of the spotlight isn’t going to do that. No matter what side of the argument you’re on, keeping today’s weight increase out of the spotlight is not beneficial to anyone.
If we were to finally be blessed with a Plump Princess, what would her story be? Does she get a token love story where she is beautiful and thus someone loves her, or is her feat learning to love herself? As a little girl, maybe it would’ve been nice to be able to say ‘That princess likes who she is, so can I!’, and maybe after being totally badass she could get an equally awesome true love and they can live happily ever after in their self-righteousness?
Even if you don’t think it’d be a great idea, just on the basis that, well, it is. Do it for the historical accuracy! There are plenty of time periods that could make for phenomenal settings that revere bigger women. Early 17th century artist Peter Paul Reuben created the ideal of a ‘Reubenesque woman’; His paintings dominantly portrayed what would today be considered ‘chubby’ and sometimes ‘fat’ women, often emphasizing their weight as a wealth or status symbol. If you think about it, with weight commonly serving as a status symbol, it would be not only era-appropriate, but rational to have a bigger princess.
In the 19th century, ‘plump’ was a beautiful thing to be! Men wanted women who could handle the strain of multiple pregnancies and births, To quote Little Women, an American classic,
Margaret, the eldest of the four, was sixteen and very pretty, being plump and fair, with large eyes, plenty of soft brown hair, a sweet mouth, and white hands, of which she was rather vain.
Imagine Disney rocking an American Girl Doll era princess (No excuses, Mulan wasn’t a real princess and she’s flawless). ‘Plump’ was a little different back then, meaning the girls just had some meat on their bones, not quite the weight we associate with being ‘fat’ today, but personally I’ll take what I can get.
Do it for the girls, and the boys, and of course- the historical accuracy! Let us live in a world where our four year olds aren’t worried about being fat! Where little girls understand that they don’t need to be thin and white and blue-eyed to be the most beautiful princess the world has ever seen. Do it for the self-esteem issues, and the eating disorders, and the diets. Do it so that you will never, ever have to worry about your future sons and daughters not being able to see that they are perfect.