Oh dear, Disney. This isn’t going to go down well at all. You’ve made a very bad match here.
The House of Mouse have teamed up with various fashion luminaries for a new promotional project with Barneys, the New York department store. They’re working on a campaign for the holiday season, comprised of:
a three-dimensional electric light show; a moving art short film in the window displays that will turn Disney’s most favorite heroes into runway supermodels and fashion regulars into Disney types, and an original score by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino.
The film will recount a story of:
Minnie Mouse’s fantasy to be at the Paris shows. There she comes across key Disney characters — Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck, Cruella de Vil, Princess Tiana and Snow White — all decked out in unique designer clothes as they make their way down the runway.
And we now have the first, fashion world-ified images of Disney characters. And they look painfully thin. They come from Women’s Wear Daily, whose Executive Editor makes some kind of cameo appearance in the film.
Each of these three images is more upsetting than the last.
So we start with Goofy who is now notably slimmed down. Interestingly, he’s the thinnest of the three characters in their original form and now he’s the least thin. Of course, he’s also the most male…
These children’s characters, arguably role models of some kind, have been reinvented with the kind of “size zero” anatomies we see in images linked with anorexia nervosa. Indeed, because they’re stylised as toons, the deformation is even more extreme.
Here’s the justification for the redesign, from Barney’s creative director Dennis Freedman:
The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress. There was a real moment of silence, because these characters don’t change. I said, ‘If we’re going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie,’ and they agreed. When you see Goofy, Minnie and Mickey, they are runway models.
There’s a fairly likely counter argument that will tell us these new bodies are so preposterously skinny that they can’t be taken seriously in any way, or perhaps that they even work as satire of the typical fashion world physiology. But the implication remains: to be sexy and fashionable and a spokesmodel, even an international icon like Minnie Mouse has to change shape to such an extent that she practically appears disfigured.
Size zero has gone from being the standard of fashion images that speak to adults and teens to also featuring in some that speak to children. “Look kids, Minnie is beautiful now.”
This campaign strikes me as so misguided I wouldn’t be surprised to hear, and soon, that the whole thing is cancelled.