When I was little, my grandmother would buy me endless numbers of Barbies. I would come home with armloads of Barbies, each one blonde and big-boobed and standing on tiptoes, and I would run them over with Barbie’s dream car and cut their hair off and do everything but put them down the garbage disposal. The only Barbie-type dolls I liked had dark hair, like me, and reasonable-sized chests. (Barbie’s flat-chested friend Skipper survived, as did my Charlie’s Angels dolls, and Veronica Lodge of Archies’ fame.)
Apparently, I wasn’t the only little girl who hated her Barbies. One of my mom’s friends admitted to her with great embarrassment that her six-year-old daughter had violently decapitated every single one of her Barbie dolls.
During a recent trip to Disneyland, I stood marveling at all of the Barbie versions of Disney princesses. Even Alice, my favorite literary heroine (along with Scout Finch) has had a makeover, from little girl to runway model.
If they could do such a thing to Alice, what might Disney do with Scout if they ever (please no) decided to animate To Kill a Mockingbird (note to any Disney execs who might be reading this: that would be a terrible idea)? Would they turn Scout into a Barbie-esque doll with giant eyes and a tiny waist, in keeping with so many of the Disney princesses?
Because seriously, Disney, the Barbie-esque princess is kind of alarming. Who decided that was the princess ideal?
Seventeen-year-old Jewel Moore, for one, has had enough. The Virginia high school junior has taken on Disney with a petition for plus-size princesses. As she says, “I know many younger plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positive plus-size character in the media. I want there to be a character for those little girls to look up to.”
She also says, “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 has faced a lot of criticism from parents, who feel an “overweight” princess is an “unhealthy ideal.” But Jewel’s change.org petition has 30,888 signatures (including mine).
Please take a second to add your name to the list.
And spread the word. We think what Jewel is doing is lovely.
(Also look at this wonderful video celebrating Jewel and her efforts from artist Andrei Terbea.)
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