Lots of people complain about the images they see in the media, the skinny actresses in Hollywood and skeletal models on the runway, but few take any steps to actually create change. Jewel Moore, 17, of Farmville, VA decided to do something. She created a Change.org petition asking Disney to create a plus-size princess character. She's now received over 25,000 signatures and loads of media attention.
"I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positivie sic plus-size character in the media," Jewel wrote in the petition. "If Disney could make a plus-size female protagonist who was as bright, amazing, and memorable as their others, it would do a world of good for those plus-size girls out there who are bombarded with images that make them feel ugly for not fitting the skinny standard."
Disney has yet to comment on the petition, but "I think it would be in their best interest to consider it, and understand what my point of view is," Moore told OKMagazine.com in a conversation this week. "I definitely think Disney is such a leader in the media, and they've been making Disney princesses of different races. This is another step toward acceptance."
Glee is one scripted medium that seems inclusive of different races, bodies, sexualities, and abilities, but Jewel couldn't think of many others in the media like it. "A lot of times they portray plus-size characters as lazy, or stupid, or slobs. They're inactive, they aren't productive," says Moore. "Or they put too much emphasis on their weight. I want to see a positive plus-size character where the whole show isn't about her weight."
Hayley Hasselhoff, 21, the plus-size model (and daughter of David Hasselhoff), starred on the short-lived ABC Family show Huge, about teens at a weight-loss camp. "It was scripted by Winnie Holzman, who wrote My So-Called Life, to show kids that they're not alone. My character was the skinniest, prettiest girl at the camp, but she had the most issues," explains Hasselhoff. The show aired for one season in 2010.
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Hasselhoff is accustomed to people constantly asking her about how hard it must have been like to be a plus-size girl with a dad on Baywatch, a show focused primarily on hot actresses in bathing suits. "I never looked at it that way. I was a kid growing up on that set. It was my home away from home," says Hasselhoff cheerfully. "I think I surrounded myself with a good group of friends who loved me for who I was... And my family's always been filled with such love and acceptance."
The gorgeous model may have some awesome body confidence, but she still loves the petition for a plus-size Disney princess. "That's freaking awesome! I think it would help young people drastically," Hasselhoff says. "Everyone looks up to a princess, you know?" She mentions that Disney is already working on its inclusiveness, recently introducing a lesbian couple on Good Luck Charlie. "Disney's probably the first people who should evolve, because that's the place where kids are getting their information about what society should and shouldn't be. They're watching it day in and day out," she adds.
"The notion that princesses would reflect the way that girls really look is something I support," says Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, senior researcher at UCLA's Children Digital Media Center. "As a mom of a 14-year-old girl, I know that teenagers worry about their weight, and these ideas take hold at young ages (sometimes as early as 6!). Disney would be a real leader by demonstrating that real women come in all shapes and sizes."
It is Disney's move now. The teenaged Moore has moved on from watching cartoons to American Horror Story and Sherlock, but she still has a favorite classic Disney princess: Snow White. "I just like her spirit," Moore explains. "She's a very pure person. She tries to do the best thing and the right thing, and she doesn't let these evil people influence her." Amen.
Do you think that Disney will actually create a plus-size princess? Do you support this campaign? Can you think of any shows with good plus-size characters? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.