"Can we have a character whose arc is not focused on their weight": Disney's first plus-size heroine in 'Reflect' leaves internet divided

Disney's first plus-sized heroine, Bianca, dances into the scene amidst mixed reviews (Image via Disney+)

Disney's recent short film, Reflect, features its first plus-size protagonist in Bianca, a young plus-size girl who loves ballet. The six-minute film is advertised as a tale of overcoming body dysmorphia and low self-esteem.

Created by Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reflect is part of the Short Circuit Experimental Films lineup. The film was made available to stream on Disney+ from September 14.

Reflect is directed by Hillary Bradfield, the story artist behind Frozen 2 and Encanto, who has stated that she hopes people "can feel more positively about themselves and how they look" when they watch the short.

While there are voices appreciating Disney for the film, some believe that the film encourages an unhealthy lifestyle in kids. Netizens also shared that this was a tokenist move on the company's part and there's a long way to go towards proper representation.

Reflect has left Disney fans polarized

Reflect tells the story of Bianca, a young ballerina who sees her reflection in the mirrors of her classroom and struggles to reconcile with her self-image.

Initially terrified and self-conscious while surrounded by cracked mirrors representing her inner struggle, Bianca begins dancing, breaks through the mirror, and triumphantly returns to class.

The film purports to send a message of body positivity and healthy self-image. Reception, however, has been mixed.

Positive reviews were found aplenty. Many wrote that Reflect resonated with them deeply and shared how the film was much-needed.

Fans lauded Bradfield under her Instagram post after the film's announcement (Image via @hillary_bradfield/Instagram).
Fans lauded Bradfield under her Instagram post after the film's announcement (Image via @hillary_bradfield/Instagram).

Former ballet dancers were especially vocal about their support for the film.

Fans praised the film and called it "important" and "inspiring."

However, a significant number of viewers also tweeted that the film could come across as encouraging children to be overweight.

A Twitter user wrote that the company should not spread the message that "fat is good and healthy."

Adam Bray, author of Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary, shared his discontent with the body positivity label and stated that it's used to appease "unhealthy people to sell them products."

Others also echoed his views and called out the move as a cash grab by Disney.

Viewers also replied to comments about the company's supposed promotion of obesity, and shared that the film's messaging is simply that plus-sized people also matter and deserve representation.

Some fans were dissatisfied with the company's treatment of its first plus-sized heroine and wished that they would instead release a story that did not revolve around the character's body image or weight.

People also felt that the movie would have had more impact had it been delivered as a longer film on the big screens.

With the release of more content featuring diverse characters and an acknowledgment of its past racism and sexism, Disney has recently tried to shift its public image in a more positive direction.

In 2020, the company launched the Stories Matter initiative, promising to be more inclusive and recognizing the company's responsibility to "consciously, purposefully, and relentlessly champion the spectrum of voices and perspectives in our world."

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