A Virginia teen started a petition this week to pressure Disney into creating a plus-size princess. On Fri. Jan. 31, her petition had 2,500 signatures.
Jewel Moore, a 17-year-old high school junior asked for a heavier princess, stating “It’s extremely difficult to find a positive representation of plus-size females in the media.”
This begs the question: Do we need an unhealthy Disney role model for girls or more plus-size females in the media? Because being overweight is definitely unhealthy.
Disney has already created Merida with her “plus-size” face, so it’s not like all Disney heroines are stick thin. Snow White is also usually portrayed with a soft, round face. Apparently these heroines are not fat enough, but would a more overweight Disney female be an appropriate role model to which young girls should aspire?
The Centers for Disease Control would say no. In a recent study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a shocking 42% of our country’s population will be obese by 2030. This will increase health care costs to about $550 billion in obesity-related expenses.
Obesity often begins in childhood as children copy their parents’ unhealthy eating habits. Today about 17% of children and adolescents are obese. If we create fat role models for little girls, it would only enable and encourage the obesity problem.
Certainly Disney would not create a princess who smokes, and a lot of women smoke. Disney would not develop a heroine who makes herself throw up after every meal, or one who pops pills, shoots up, attempts suicide or is a cutter, because although a lot of girls and women engage in these behaviors, we know these would be unhealthy behavior models for young girls.
But obesity is a leading cause of death in America. The Surgeon General estimates that 300,000 deaths a year may be attributable to obesity, and being overweight or obese was associated with 18.2% of all deaths among adults from 1986 through 2006 in the United States, according to a study published online August 15, 2013 in the American Journal of Public Health. Since obesity has been steadily on the rise since then, that percentage would be even higher in 2014.
Obese females are not good role models for little girls–or grown women–and Disney might be better off not creating an unhealthy overweight princess or heroine for little girls to pattern themselves after.
What do you think? In light of the national obesity health crisis, what do you think about the petition for Disney to create a plus-size princess? Should children have role models who are smokers, overweight, drug users, or who engage in other unhealthy behaviors?
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