Unless your name is Kate Middleton, few real-life princesses come close to Walt Disney Animations Studio's version of young feminine royalty. Cartoons, in general, are by nature an exaggeration of the human form. But Disney takes it to a different level, creating a breed of woman who is beautiful, desirable, and very thin.
Still, some of these heroic characters, from Ariel to Tiana, inspire us because Disney does do a decent job of championing strong-willed, independent, brave, intelligent, open-minded, go-getter women (never mind that these traits tend to surface in the face of a marriage plight). Drawing up characters that little girls can look up to is a great responsibility, which is why 17-year-old Jewel Moore from Farmville, VA, recently appealed to Disney to rethink its mass portrayal of body image.
On January 24, Moore posted a petition on Change.org calling on the highly influential animation company to make more plus-size princesses that reflect people like herself. “I'm a plus-size young woman, and I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positive plus-size character in the media,” wrote the size 14/16, 5-foot-4 high school junior in the petition. “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,” she continued [Tweet this inspiring quote!].
In two weeks, the petition has already collected more than 24,000 nline signatures. “It was so unexpected, especially this quick. I didn't know it would take off. It's definitely a pleasant surprise,” Moore told Shape.
And the best part is, she didn't set the cap at 25,000 signatures as some petitions do, so she's hoping to get thousands more. “I just want to see it keep going and going. It's empowering to see that there's some sort of movement happening here,” says Moore, who feels healthy and comfortable in her own skin and likes to stay active by swimming (she's a lifeguard) and walking.
There's no specific number of signatures needed for animation companies such as Disney to react to the petition, but they're definitely aware of it by now. Disney gets an email each time someone signs the petition. If they want to talk, Moore is happy to chat and help them make an important impact on the confidence of young women around the world.
What do you think about Jewel's petition? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us @Shape_Magazine!