It's no secret that we have the worst beauty standards, especially for women. One's skin must be smooth and flawless, god forbid one has any acne, birthmarks, or freckles. The skinnier one is, the better. Apparently, being a woman means one could always lose another five pounds. Oh, and of course, boobs have to be at least a C-cup, and your hips need to be curvy, too. And don't worry about all the people with eating disorders or who are experiencing horrible bullying because their looks don't conform to our standards. That's just pure coincidence.
One of the reasons this is such a problem is because we are first exposed to these standards at a young age. We grow up thinking that is the norm, that is the way things are or at least should be, so that's what we have to be. Disney is one of the many parties responsible for that. Luckily, there are several groups and people on the Internet who are working to change that. So here are 15 examples of princess designs that have been fixed to a realistic standard.
The picture on the right is not a photograph of a real person, even though using a real person would be an excellent way to portray a Disney character in a realistic body. It's a painting. An amazing painting far beyond average capabilities, to be sure. My paintings have yet to improve from stick figures and yellow balls for suns.
Disney's depiction of Megara is easily one of the most infuriating. It's one thing to have a woman character - real or cartoonish - who fits into nothing larger than a size five. That's somewhat understandable, even occasionally excusable. But in what universe is the entire torso of a human being narrower than said human's head? One lung is about the size of a football (on average), so with that tight-ass rib-cage, she's not even breathing. Hm, maybe that's why she spends so much time around Hades.
Anna looks so cute in this picture. She's adorable throughout the entire movie, of course, but this scene in particular is aww-inspiring. And now with this picture, it's even more so. I think it's because she looks more realistic, so it's easier to relate to her. She's the little sister who has her first crush, or the best friend you have lunch with, or even the girlfriend you're taking out on a date.
And what do you know: she's still pretty. I don't think anyone can say that the quality of her appearance has gone down, even with her face altered and fleshed out (full props to the artist who did that to match it with the rest of her body). She's adorable! I want to wrap her up in cotton, take her home and feed her honey.
It's a little hard to tell, since her arms are over her torso, but Rapunzel's stomach and waistline have widened. She now looks less like a Barbie-based cartoon and more like a real person. And what do you know: the world hasn't blown up. Weird.
Fun side note: Tangled has a lot of symbolism tied into this mirror. It's supposed to be lies and reality distortion. For example, Mother Gothel uses it to put Rapunzel down and tell her she's incapable of looking after herself in the outside world. But during the scene where Rapunzel has figured out who she is and what Gothel's been doing, the mirror shatters. In reality, many people look in the mirror and don't see what's accurately reflected. They only see the flaws, real or imagined. To them we say to take a page from Tangled's book and smash that thing.
I don't know about you guys, but I find the Jasmine on the right to be more beautiful and attractive than the original on the left. Realistic Jasmine is slim, but healthy. Original Jasmine makes me want to hook her up to a chocolate milkshake IV. Seriously, she looks like a lady who needs some serious body issues on the way to the hospital. That, or her stomach's been stapled shut. Either way, she needs help.
I will say this for Disney, though: Jasmine was one of the first princesses whose best attribute wasn't her beauty. Oh, they talk about her appearance, for sure. Genie asks if she's pretty and Aladdin gushes romantically about her eyes and hair. But that's after he mentions how smart and fun she is. She may not have had a realistic body, but she had a realistic personality.
Jasmine went and got some serious ink! We've got flowers, skulls, and some sort of rock-puzzle-piece pattern on her right arm. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a badass quote from the Koran written in cursive on her back, seeing as all the characters from Aladdin are Muslim.
Opposition to tattoos doesn't make sense. They're "disrespectful" and "ugly," which is probably why the only people who have them in movies are usually bad guys, or at least morally ambiguous. That opposition needs to spend some time on a college campus. Every other person you meet will have at least one tattoo somewhere on their body, and they're some of the nicest people on the planet. Jasmine, with her rebellious attitude, would probably head to a tattoo parlor if there was one in the city.
Technically, Anastasia doesn't count as an official Disney princess, even though she is a character designed by Disney and is a princess. The movie just wasn't popular enough. (For which I'm grateful. The historical inaccuracies in Pocahontas are bad enough. We don't need to be ruining Russian history, too.)
But even though she wasn't as popular as the other Disney princesses, Anastasia's exaggerated, hourglass body was exactly the same. It was covered in baggy, shabby clothing for a good chunk of the movie, but it was still an unrealistic depiction. Featured above, however, is a fan-made edit. This version is not slim by any stretch of the imagination. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, since I mentioned historical accuracy, this version would actually be more desirable to the men of her time than the original. The skinny craze is a very recent development. In most of history (especially in the Renaissance), the "ideal woman's" body had visible fat, especially around the midsection. Because it meant she had enough money to eat three square meals a day.
Big is beautiful. End of discussion. Although one wonders if Gaston would have pursued Belle if she'd been any bigger than a size four. He was pretty absorbed in her physical appearance and reproductive capabilities...and that's about it. It's one of his many attributes that made him such a slime ball.
The funny thing is, the design, by Curvy Kate, is not only representative of the average American in the 21st Century. It's also closer to what a woman who spends most of her time indoors reading books would look like. Book worms aren't always socially awkward, glasses-wearing kids who are stick-skinny. Sometimes they're girls who have a hard time making friends because the mean girls at their school make fun of their waistline, so they spend more time reading. And they discover how awesome reading is and so spend more time reading.
Mulan's body usually doesn't come up in this kind of conversation. There are two reasons for this. One, her body is closer to realistic proportions than other princesses, even if it's still unfeasible. But that doesn't really matter, because (two) she wears thick armor for half of the movie, and that gives her much more realistic dimensions.
Still, the bridal dress she wears in the beginning is annoying. The song is worse, even if every lyric is disproved by the end of the film. A snippet: "Men want girls with good taste. Calm, obedient, who work fast-paced. With good breeding and a tiny waste, you'll bring honor to us all." But even though the fan-art above shows a woman on the slim side, at least she's not being squeezed to death by her belt.
There are several things wrong with The Road to El Dorado. First is the obvious: the image shown above. Even putting aside the fact that Chel has the typical Disney body, she's still problematic. She's only in the movie to serve as a love interest and cause tension between the two male leads.
The other reason to burn all copies of El Dorado is because of it's major historical inaccuracy (again, I know, but what can I say? I'm a geek) and racism. The Aztecs and Mayans did not believe the Europeans were gods. They weren't idiots. Even if they'd never seen the things the Spaniards brought with them, like horses, they knew they were mortal human beings. The reason they initially greeted the explorers so warmly and lavishly is because that was a part of their culture. It's how they treated their guests.
Tiana's got hips! Clearly, being a frog was very good for her legs. Think about it: she's hopping around bogs, swimming through a swamp, and being chased by shadows and crocodiles. That's a lot of strenuous exercise. You're not going to get through that without building some muscle. Which is something the movie industry doesn't seem to get. Think about it: whenever you see a woman soldier on the screen, or a female athlete, or a girl who is involved in any kind of strenuous exercise on at least a semi-regular basis, she still looks like a model for Vogue. Sporty girls may be petite (especially gymnasts), but they have muscle. And there is major variety. If they're stick-skinny, they don't stay that way for long. Also, Tiana's bra and underwear match her gown, which I find adorable.
I'll say this for the original: it's a good depiction of what the corset aimed to do. Even though it wasn't super popular until Victorian England, it was worn for centuries before that, including Medieval England, where Sleeping Beauty takes place. Although the negative health effects of corsets have been largely debunked (such as breast cancer, childbed fever, and squishy organs), it's definitely one of humanity's stupider fashion statements. With long use, they altered the rib cage and reduced lung capacity, which meant all those fainting ladies weren't just a stereotype. They also caused muscle problems, especially in the back and chest. Most of all, they were just plain annoying. You can't really move in a corset. That's why the fashion statement died in World War I. Women had to work while the boys were off fighting, and you can't do that if you can't draw in a full breath.
Okay, I admit it. The main reason I chose this picture of realistic Ariel is because of her freckles. Look at them! They're so cute! Plus, if you look closely enough, you can see she has dark spots and little blemishes dotting her arms and belly. And you know what? That's totally fine. People have marks on their skin from being in the sun too long, or earning a scar for childhood stunts, or even just having a plain birthmark. Skin is never as homogeneous across the body as cartoonist and makeup artists would have you believe.
Her bikini top is cool, too. It's much more practical than the original. Can you imagine trying to swim around with a couple of seashells strapped to your nipples? Especially if you're bigger than an A-cup; that has to be painful.
Remember when I talked about historical accuracy with Anastasia? If you scrolled past it, here's a quick repeat: The skinny craze is a very recent development. In most of history (especially in the Renaissance), the "ideal woman's" body had visible fat, especially around the midsection. The Elsa featured on the right would be featured in a Renaissance painting. Bellies and waists were very attractive in Renaissance Europe. A bigger belly indicated that the person had enough money to live in decent housing and eat their fill, rather than scrape for food in the countryside or on the streets. It also helps that Elsa has pale skin, which was another very attractive feature, as that indicated that she had the luxury of lounging indoors rather than working all day in the field. No one said the Renaissance was perfect; they were pretty racist, too.
I love this picture so much. And not just because it has modernized Disney princesses, of which I am a huge sucker for. That, and warrior princesses. (See "15 Jaw-Dropping Fan Arts by Disney Fanatics That Will Make You Go 'Whoa!'") No, I like this because it has five different Disney princesses, two of them are women of color, with five very different body types. Cinderella's short and stout, and probably mercilessly mocked in high school for it. Pocahontas has hips and looks like a rock star. Snow White looks like someone you do not want to meet in a dark alley. Ariel is 99% leg and towers over everyone like a redheaded skyscraper. And Tiana is a petite little button, which I find hilarious for flying in the face of the stereotypical black girl body type: big and thick.
All of these ladies are still beautiful and match what the world is today. Having characters like this in Disney movies will give little girls and boys realistic expectations when it comes to their body types in the real world.
Brave was actually pretty good about depicting girls' bodies. Merida and her mother are on the slim side, to be sure. Especially when you look at the size of the men around them, and everyone's diet, which consists almost exclusively of tarts and meat. But compared to all the other princesses, we see that Disney is improving. But I put this fan art here for two reasons. One, it's amazing. She looks like she jumped out of the movie screen, and it's so realistic. Which brings me to point number two: it's realistic. She has a belly. She has appropriate facial proportions instead of the huge anime-eyes and baby-face of almost every other Disney princess. And she has little baggies under her eyes. Not that you can really get to that level of detail in a cartoon, but in live-action movies and photographs, those are almost always edited out.