Skinny Minnie Mouse draws protest
by Mark Duncan | on October 23, 2012
High-end fashion retailer Barney’s of New York is planning a holiday ad campaign that features Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck. At least, we think it’s Minnie — in the Barney’s version, the Disney icon resembles a well-dressed stick.
The ad promotion, called Electric Holiday, centers around a Minnie Mouse dream sequence in which she fantasizes about what it would be like for she and her friends to be fashion models. All of that would be pretty standard had Minnie not imagined herself as being thinner than Olive Oyl.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that the decision to make Minnie and company skinny was seen as necessary by Barney’s executives. Creative director Dennis Freedman said, “When we got to the moment when all Disney characters walk on the runway, there was a discussion. 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.”
TV Guide reports that celebrities including Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen and Disney heiress Abigail Disney have spoken out about the campaign. Madsen tweeted: “Barney’s : Leave Minnie Mouse Alone” and linked to the petition. Over 125,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org demanding that Barney’s not go through with the window display and “return Minnie Mouse to her normal figure.”
The petition cites the need for young girls to have a positive body image. The petition author, Ragen Chastain, writes: “There is nothing wrong with tall thin women. There is something wrong with changing a beloved children’s character’s body so that it looks good in a dress that almost nobody looks good in — adding to the tremendous pressure on young girls and women to attain photoshop (sic) perfection.”
The press release from Barney’s says: “Minnie and Mickey are transported into a fantasy world where they are transformed from their traditional Disney form into dream-like fashion-forward runway models, and are joined on the Paris runway by five other models evocative of other iconic Disney personalities: Goofy, Daisy Duck, Snow White, Princess Tiana, and Cruella de Vil.”
The campaign was announced several months ago, but the petition is now bringing attention to Minnie’s new (but temporary) look. Fans can see runway Minnie and company on November 14 at the Barney’s flagship store in New York City.
UPDATE: Nidia Tatalovich, a spokesperson for Disney, sent us a joint statement on behalf of Barney’s New York and The Walt Disney Company: “We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a light hearted holiday promotion in order to draw media attention to themselves. They have deliberately ignored previously released information which clearly states this one-time promotion focuses on a three minute ‘moving art’ video showcasing traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence where she goes to Paris, dreams of briefly walking the runway as a model, and then awakens as her normal self happily wearing the same designer dress from the fashion show.”
Tatalovich also explained that the thin Minnie appears only as part of video clip and not part of the window display. “The only place these interpretive versions of the Disney characters make an appearance is in the 3-minute moving art video and only briefly in a 7-second sequence.” Tatalovich added, “At the end of the video, Minnie appears in her regular classic form wearing the same designer Lanvin dress that was in the dream sequence.”
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