Why Disney Shouldn't Have Plus Sized Princesses (But Should Conform To Normal Body Standards)
Recently I came across an article detailing how a young girl was petitioning Disney to create a plus size princess. I understood the girl's motives to want to help boost the self-esteem of plus size females and show boys that it is okay to date someone who is not impossibly small.
While I do applaud the girl for seeking to help regarding self-confidence issues, I have to disagree with her request to have a plus size princess.
Plus size is defined as larger than normal or extra large. Disney princesses are often role models for young girls. When I was a child, I always wanted to sing like Ariel or clean like Snow White (by the way, thanks for those reflections of a woman's role, Disney).
Sure, the way those princesses looked did help to define my idea of beauty at a young age and gave me an image of something to aspire to look like, though it was unrealistic at times (no one's eyes are that big and no one has that breast-to-waist proportion).
So, if there was a princess who was not stick skinny or was focused on a healthy lifestyle, I would be all for it. But, the reality of the situation is that a lot plus size people are unhealthy. Being within a healthy BMI range is “normal” but being outside of those parameters increases health risks, including problems with heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, breathing and even just sleeping normally.
Why would we want to provide children with a role model that promotes the ideal that larger than normal is okay, though it may mean being unhealthy? I'm not referring to beauty standards — obviously, many plus size people are beautiful. Beauty should not be defined by a person's weight, ever. What I am saying is that we should not encourage children to be unhealthy and a plus size princess would likely do that inadvertently.
I understand that it might damage a child's self-esteem to see a conventionally beautiful princess who is "skinny" and who does not look like the child in a movie. But to me, the situation is similar to giving kids a trophy no matter how they placed in the contest at hand. In the real world, you won’t always win.
When you are older and your project for your company is not as good as your coworker's, there is no second place promotion or fourth place raise. Your self-esteem will be damaged somewhat, but you’ll realize you can improve and move forward to do better. Yes, your child might be overweight and plus size, and that puts him or her at great risk for health problems, which is a reality that we should neither avoid nor euphemize.
We should not make people feel as if their worth is less or as if they are not as beautiful due to weight. Still, we should not glamorize or cover up the real issues that can arise from being overweight.