Minnie Mouse, slimmed down and glamourous in a hot pink Lanvin dress, has body activists out in force.
On November 14, Barney’s New York will open a Christmas window featuring a slimmed down Minnie Mouse in a pink Lanvin dress. Two weeks in advance, the body police have gone ballistic. They claim this change in the physical dimensions of a cartoon character will do irreparable damage to the self-esteem of American women–and especially to the children who might walk past it. For those who have nothing more important to worry about, one can join the “Leave Minnie Alone” movement by signing a petition at change.org.
I guess this is what feminism has come to. Some Americans think women’s rights are about being as fat as you want–that eating Dove bars is a righteous political statement (in a world where most people are starving). Today, the Republican Tea Party is running roughshod over the really meaningful rights–and yet a department store can command the headlines over an imaginary mouse’s dimensions. What a sense of priorities.
Minnie Mouse in the early days, circa 1935. Note all the bulk is in her skirt.
The complaints about the assault on our collective body image are too predictable and self-indulgent. In this case, though, the criticism is also a bit of a stretch. That’s because Minnie has always been skinny.
Unlike Minnie, Daisy Duck has always had a curvaceous sex appeal. She has been slimmed down, too, and dressed in a mini-skirt. Why are bloggers not raving about that?
Furthermore, there can be no argument that Minnie has been in need of a Total Fashion Makeover for all eighty-four years of her cartoon life. Unlike Daisy Duck, Minnie’s character has never had much womanly sexuality to it. Beyond the overly long lashes and gawkily feminine attire, she looks just like Mickey. So, she is now just skinny in a different way—with a better outfit. This is not to mention she has traded in the ugliest shoes in the animated universe for a pair that are equally ridiculous but at least stylish.
Goofy has been turned into a hipster--also skinny--but I guess men are stronger than women and they can take it .
And, apparently, both Daisy and Goofy have been reworked for this window, but the focus is all on “saving” the Frumpy Mouse. It also appears that the bloggers and celebs are willfully misrepresenting the situation. Disney and Barney’s have issued a joint statement, expressing dismay:
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.
I guess we will all find out the truth about Minnie on November 14. I hope we won’t have other, harder truths to face by then.