Back in August, Barneys revealed that it would be collaborating with Disney for its holiday campaign–and that Minnie Mouse and her pals would be dropping a few dress sizes to fit into their designer frocks. Cue the outrage.
Shortly after the campaign was revealed, online commenters took to WWD and a Disney site to complain that this new skinny Minnie was a horrible role model for young girls.
WWD‘s Bridget Foley–who is also appearing in the campaign–wrote a rather scathing rebuttal (as she is wont to do). She noted that fashion is all about dreaming and reinvention, which is what Minnie is doing. “Why can’t Minnie dream herself lanky? It’s only wrong if she comes back to reality and swallows cyanide in despair,” Foley wrote. “What if she wakes up and says,’Short legs! Oh, well. I’m still really happy with who I am — kind and cute, with lots of people who love me.’ What’s wrong with sending that accurately mixed message to kids?”
Well, a lot of people didn’t see it that way. Two online petitions are currently circulating asking Disney and Barneys to reconsider their decision to turn Minnie into a Karlie Kloss klone. One on Change.org has over 130,000 signatures (including Walt Disney’s great niece) and one on SumOfUs has almost 80,000 signatures.
Disney and Barneys don’t get what all the fuss is about, and released this joint statement to the New York Daily News yesterday:
We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a lighthearted holiday project in order to draw media attention to themselves. They have deliberately ignored previously released information clearly stating this promotion is a three-minute ‘moving art’ video featuring traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence set in Paris where she briefly walks the runway as a model and then happily awakens as her normal self wearing the very same designer dress from the fashion show.
Oh, so instead of waking up skinny, Minnie wakes up wearing Lanvin? Sounds pretty good to us! All kidding aside, the conversation about designer clothing, ever-shrinking models, and fashion ignoring “real women” is a complex one. As Ragen Chastain (the woman who started the Change.org petition) told the NYDN, “The message is if your body doesn’t fit in to a designer dress, drastically change your body. Not, let’s insist on a designer that’s talented enough to make a dress that fits you.” It’s not a horrible argument, but we’re not sure that the Barneys holiday windows is necessarily the place to have the discussion.
What do you think about Minnie Mouse’s extreme make-over? All in good fun or a dangerous precedent?