Disney has released their new short film featuring a plus-size female protagonist for the first time. Reflect is the story of Bianca, a plus-size ballet dancer who “battles her own reflection, overcoming doubt and fear by channeling her inner strength, grace and power”. The film is part of the Short Circuit Experimental Film series, and is now available to stream on Disney+. Disney shared a trailer for the same on Twitter.
An all-new Short Circuit Experimental Film has arrived! Stream “Reflect” and all the Short Circuit Experimental Films by Walt Disney Animation Studios artists now on @DisneyPlus. 🩰 🎆 pic.twitter.com/c0gw5U4ecc
— Disney Animation (@DisneyAnimation) September 14, 2022
Disney animators have often stumbled into controversies regarding their portrayal of unrealistic body standards for female protagonists. Many viewers heavily criticized the way Disney’s princesses like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty look on screen with their disproportionately small waistlines. In fact, research even proves that it is almost impossible for a real person to naturally have the body proportions that most Disney princesses do.
But the trailer has received mixed responses. Some people also believe that making body dysmorphia the film’s central theme takes away from the attempt at inclusivity. Plus-sized characters can and should be more than their body. While some viewers feel like their struggles are finally represented on screen, some others are expressing disappointment at the fact that Disney is reducing Bianca’s story to her body image issues.
As someone who has suffered with severe body dysmorphia for 15 years, it’s amazing to see Disney addressing it 👏🏻 https://t.co/GYRdJ7dDJv
— Rachel Pugh (@rachelellenpugh) October 21, 2022
CW: Fatphobia, body dysmorphia
OK but why can't @Disney just have a fat heroine who does NOT have body dysmorphia…. True representation is being able to see a character who looks like you without that being the center of the story. It should just be normal. @DisneyStudios https://t.co/D0sVlY2DOl
— Marissa Ditkowsky (she/her) (@mditkowsky) October 27, 2022
That being said, Reflect is still a step towards inclusivity in the Disney universe. With recent successful endeavours like Turning Red and Encanto, and the casting of Halle Bailey, a black woman, in The Little Mermaid live action film, Disney’s ethos is changing significantly. We may take some respite in the fact that the new generation will not have to grow up watching white-washed, sexist and fatphobic stories on screen.