Disney+ has released a new short film, featuring their very first plus-sized protagonist. Directed by Hillary Bradfield, “Reflect” focuses on Bianca, young ballerina of heavier stature as she battles with body dysmorphia and proves to herself that doubt doesn’t define her. With the exception of Pacha (“The Emperor’s New Groove“) and Luisa (“Encanto“), Disney has never given a plus-sized human character a protagonist role. Animation tends to sideline thicker characters, making them villains or comic relief.
We’ve grown up only ever seeing wasp-waisted princesses and female characters that fit a very specific mold. But with Bianca’s thick body and sturdy legs, many are taking to social media to applaud the film. Disney had come under fire for their unrealistic beauty standards, or nixing more varied designs- the concept work for Flynn Ryder being a barrel-chested, gentle giant type, for instance.
Perhaps Disney will play with body types more in future. Luisa in “Encanto” was a decent first start as a heavily muscled female with a corresponding body type. And the protagonist of a short film takes another positive step. Perhaps a future film will feature a heroine of sturdier constitution. It’s about time.
Disney+’s “Short Circuit “series is an opportunity for up-and-coming animators to represent and provide different messages and cultural perspectives. All presented in various styles and mediums of animation. Both seasons are available to view on Disney+.