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It’s a Small World After All… Literally

September 6, 2012

Trigger warning: Mentions of eating disorders and pictures posted of extremely thin cartoon characters

Us humans are a weird and interesting species, with varied opinions on just about any topic you can think of. But when it comes to giving makeovers to our beloved animated characters and updating them to fit modern times, I think I can safely say that the general consensus is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, a high-end retailer decided that some fixing was in order when it came to some of the most popular animated characters in the world, and the reaction has been equal parts horror and disgust.

Barney’s Department Store is facing a lot of backlash for drastically altering iconic Disney characters and using the images in a brand new holiday campaign that will debut at their New York store on November 14. And when I mean “drastically altered,” I’m not lying.

Here’s the Minnie Mouse we’re all used to seeing:

Original Minnie Mouse

And here’s Minnie redesigned,where the only thing still recognizable is the ears:

Modern Minnie

Goofy, who just happens to be my favorite Disney character, was the one that really made me go “WTF?” Here’s the original Goofy we all know and love:

Original Goofy

And now Goofy redesigned, who looks like a lost member of One Direction:

Modern Goofy

Finally, here’s the regular Daisy Duck:

Original Daisy Duck

And, here’s Daisy redesigned, all glammed up and ready to strut her stuff:

Modern Daisy

Of course, you may have noticed that Minnie, Goofy and Daisy are a lot skinnier in these recent incarnations. Barney’s creative director, Dennis Freedman, defended the decision to whittle down their waists:

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 [Disney] agreed.

While criticizing the decision to essentially put Minnie, Goofy and Daisy (and other characters whose redesigned images haven’t been officially released yet) on a virtual crash diet seems trivial, Freedman’s comments about the standard Minnie not looking good in high-end fashion really demonstrates the mindset that many in and out of the fashion industry have.

They believe our bigger bodies don’t look good in designer clothes and that we shouldn’t have them created for us. Many expensive brand name retailers won’t go above a size 8, believing the day they start making plus lines, they will no longer be considered exclusive and ritzy.

Changing these characters’ bodies into something that physically can’t exist anywhere in the real world also sends out a dangerous message (especially to young kids and teenagers) that they won’t be good enough to wear nice clothes and have nice things unless they’re super-thin. While we continue to debate the media’s role in affecting eating disorders, I believe it is a factor in shaping the mentality of people who are suffering from EDs. This is especially true when magazines glorify disordered eating techniques and insane workout regimens as healthy ways to lose weight and stay in shape.

This isn’t the first time cartoon characters have gone through dramatic makeovers and received negative reactions. Several years ago, fans of Strawberry Shortcake were aghast when a new, updated version came out and she resembled  classic anime character, complete with thinner body.

Strawberry Shortcake was no longer the little girl who adorned many a little girl’s bedroom and birthday cake.

And in the newest Scooby-Doo cartoon series, Mystery Incorporated, Velma Dinkley was slimmed down, got a breast augmentation, and put flower barrettes in her hair to make her more “girly.”

Here’s the classic Velma for reference:

Dinkley also developed an infatuation with Shaggy, somewhat dumbing her down (but to be honest, I always thought she and Shaggy had something going on on the side anyway).

In the end, though, these slimmer, sleeker and sexier versions aren’t going to be the ones people will remember fondly. It’s ironic that in the real world, human bodies with even a trace of visual fat are considered unhealthy and undesirable, but in some areas of the make-believe world, flab is perfectly fine. If only those feelings would cross over, we’d be a lot better off.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. Ada Mangoes permalink
    September 6, 2012 10:11 am

    These new characters are just plain ugly. Even if we’re going for a further anthropomorphized look, the female characters are vastly thinner than the male and even further yet from anything remotely real or accurate. And that’s even by modeling standards. Yuck.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    September 6, 2012 10:31 am

    Minnie, Daisy, and Goofy wouldn’t look good in the designer clothes? It’s not that at all. It’s that those designers don’t know how to design clothes for a body that isn’t a clothes hanger. When it comes to a larger body, they have no imagination at all and their creativity is stymied. So they use the excuse that if they design clothing for all types of bodies, they’ll lose their exclusivity, their cachet, and won’t be able to charge thousands of dollars for one outfit. I hate to tell them this, but if their designs were really as great as they think they are, and they could be made to fit all bodies, they might actually be worth the money – maybe, but I haven’t seen much they’ve designed lately that I’d be caught dead wearing, so it’s really not a big loss to me anyway (however, that might then trickle down to the ready-to-wear market, which would definitely be a good thing).

  3. September 6, 2012 12:18 pm

    Maybe, when enough of these brick and mortar clothing stores close due to no customers, they will realize that 1/3 of us are obese and 1/3 are overweight. they are NOT selling clothes to fully 2/3 of the population by being sizeist douche bags.

  4. September 6, 2012 12:30 pm

    Frankly, the new Disney characters look like something out of my nightmares.

  5. September 6, 2012 5:11 pm

    “Many expensive brand name retailers won’t go above a size 8, believing the day they start making plus lines, they will no longer be considered exclusive and ritzy.”

    It’s scary to think that clothing designers and retailers continually shrink the margin of what is an attractive size and what is “plus” size. I used to think plus size was anything around a 16 or higher. Nowadays it’s anything over…what? a 10? Though isn’t 14 supposed to be the official plus-sized size? I don’t know, but even so…I do know that I’d be able to find a hell of a lot more clothing in a size 14, and twice as many as that in a size 10 or lower. I suppose if retailers sell clothes in a size 14 and consider it “plus sized,” they can feel good about themselves and claim they sell to women of all sizes. I usually can’t find anything above a size 16 or 18 anymore, and if they ARE above that then it’s 99% of the time just jeans!

  6. sage permalink
    September 6, 2012 5:24 pm

    Velma doesn’t look slimmed down to me..

    • sage permalink
      September 6, 2012 5:25 pm

      The disney stuff looks really stupid ANYWAY. Are they kidding? What the hell is this shit!?

    • Kala permalink
      September 6, 2012 10:43 pm

      It looks like all Velma got was a tighter sweater. The Disney character interpretations are fugly.

  7. September 6, 2012 5:46 pm

    Uhm…really? How far will we go to manipulate people? Seriously, how far will we go? Why don’t thy just start putting anyone over a certain size, whatever size they deem fit, in jail for being ugly, unattractive and just plain annoying in our culture. How about we start fining people for being fat? And that way, when everyone is starving to death, literally, we can then manipulate them some more by telling them they are too thin. It’s the fall of the Roman Empire all over again. I’m thinking I really need to write a screenplay with a sexy fat protagonist who is just the most amazing person on the planet that nobody can deny it. But, nobody will go see it or admit to seeing it. I want to stomp around like Godzilla, but then isn’t that what’s expected of me, the big huge fat woman goes on a rampage…ha ha ha..until she sits on you. I’m so steaming mad at this! I’m so steaming mad at the who frickin world of these buttholes who just want to control people!!!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  8. September 6, 2012 10:54 pm

    The Strawberry Shortcake one I’m mixed on. She does have a reduced “girth,” but before that girth was a big, poofy dress. Her head is still fairly large, but now she looks more like one of those Bratz dolls. I’ll have to watch the new Scooby Doo to see it myself. It does mostly look like a tighter sweater, but to make her have a crush on Shaggy seems a departure from that character. Not sure if I like that.

    As for the Disney ones… that’s just stupid.

    It’s like they’re looking to be controversial, more than designing them to rock the clothes. They’re so thin, you can’t even make out the clothes. What a ridiculous thing to do. It’s just kinda sad. And the more I look at it, the sadder it gets. It’s like a cry for help.

    Peace,
    Shannon

  9. post-menopausal goddess permalink
    September 7, 2012 10:28 am

    I discovered this blog a few weeks ago, via a story and link on KSDK-TV’s website. Been lurking since then, but now it’s time to come on out & join y’all. Gotta say, I like this place!

    Re: the topic at hand … I cannot believe the Disney organization signed off on that mess. But apparently they’ll do anything for a (licensing) buck, right??

    (Feel that vibration? That’s Walt Disney spinning in his grave…)

    • September 17, 2012 10:10 pm

      Welcome to Fierce, Freethinking Fatties, PMG! Thank you for coming out of the shadows. I’m so glad somebody got here from that interview! I’m so glad you like our community, and I’m so glad you’ve decided to join the conversation.

      And Walt would be kicking somebody’s ass if he could just dig his way out.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  10. September 8, 2012 8:39 am

    Those Disney characters are just ugly. I think they’re quite creepy looking actually.

  11. sex2poetry4life permalink
    September 8, 2012 9:01 pm

    Nah. Velma is a lesbian. Totes for sure. As for the slimming down, that’s just wrong and plain evil.

  12. The Real Cie permalink
    September 12, 2012 11:02 am

    This is just sad. I wish I had something more brilliant to say, but I don’t.

  13. September 20, 2012 6:44 pm

    Those Disney things look like something out off Tim Burtons The Corpse Bride. Strawberry Shortcake’s makeover made me cry. I had her and Victoria Plum as well (crying in corner over mutilation of childhood icon) and as for Velma’s modification thats wrong on so many levels aghhhhh screams loudly and wants to hit things

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