“Pretty” Princess

I don’t watch Disney. Call me crazy, but I was never drawn to the fairy tales, the classic story line with animated sidekicks and handsome princes. I was way more into the Lion King than a princess movie.

Disney has been making some big bucks off of remakes of their classic movies. Even when people know what will happen, seeing the original, we go anyway, just to see if it lives up to the hype. Maybe they’re just out of new ideas. Especially when it comes to making a bunch of sequels, too.

But enough of that particular criticism. I want to hone in on a particular new remake that has been making some waves, just not for the right reasons. It’s not even Disney, but it’s a parody-remake of the classic Snow White.

Now the intended premise of it doesn’t sound too shabby. According to Polygon, the movie follows Snow White on Fairy Tale Island, a world inhabited by celebrities where how you look defines your status. Snow White wears a pair of red slippers that turn her into a thin and beautiful woman who will be accepted by society. It’s through her journey to find her lost father that Snow White begins to accept who she really is.

However, the marketing for the movies does not reflect this synopsis. Billboards and advertisements for the film depicts a message that because Snow White is shorter and rounder than her tall and skinny counterpart, she’s not as beautiful.

Even teaser trailers don’t help out the film studio that much. A couple of dwarves watching the thin, “beautiful” version of Snow White undress, which is, uh, a little creepy. Everything changes when Snow White removes her red shoes and transforms into the bigger version of herself. Unlike the thin, delicate version of Snow White, the “real” version of the character is depicted as less refined, burping after chugging from a mug. The look of surprise and horror on the dwarves’ faces implies how “beautiful” Snow White truly is, which is, unfortunately, not really.

There are plenty of things to say about these two advertisements. First off, the stereotypical images that these images portray simplify weight into a complete change of personality. Heavier people must be less polite, less healthy, less happy than a thinner version of themselves. That a drastic change in body shape is necessary to become a beautiful person.

Judging a movie by its marketing tactics is like judging a book by its cover. The underlying message might not reflect these previews, which even voice actors from the movie have criticized, but this is the first glimpse of what the public interprets. One of the key means as to whether their kids should go see it. I would lean toward the answer of no. Kids are impressionable. Heck, before a certain age, they cannot even distinguish between reality and media fantasy. To think if a young person saw a poster or commercial that had these suggestions, it’s hard to predict how that might change how that person thinks, about others and themselves.

Even without this movie as an example, shame toward unhealthy habits that lead to “unhealthy looking” bodies begins young. Kids learn very early about the food pyramid and the importance of physical activity. Not innately bad, even beneficial, but childhood obesity is prevalent today, and with that comes doctor’s requests for diets and exercise plans and everything else. We immerse young people into a weight loss mentality without much of their consent involved.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for raising healthy generations who appreciate whole (hopefully plant-based) foods and find physical activities they truly enjoy. But when we rely upon the scales, the BMI charts, the “typical” numbers expected for certain ages and sexes, are we considering the psychological effects from that? To tell a child that they’re obese, to restrict their portions and push them to workout? There’s a better way to go about instilling health, and that is not the way to do it.

The media influence doesn’t help either. To rarely see overweight people act on their favorite movies or TV shows, and if there is any, they are typically stereotypical. To gain a biased toward promoting “fit” bodies, seeing the smallest clothing sizes modeled in advertisements and stores. To watch a commercial like this movie that makes the obvious impression that “fat” is bad and “thin” is good.

I’m grateful that so many of us are becoming very attentive and wary about these subtle jabs against body positivity and nip them in the bud. We’re seeing more physical diversity representation every day, but not only must we expand the model of health and happiness, but we must also provide children the physical and emotional support they need to find their own version of health and happiness. The model looks different for everybody. But no matter how it looks, it is beautiful. The sooner we learn that, no matter our age, the better.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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