My friends, we have a lot to learn from the aliens.
No, not those three-eyed, green, cone-head visitors from Pluto. They might be able to teach us how to fry other planets with lasers or create buildings with the shear force of our minds, but I’m more interested in lessons of body positivity. For that, we need Disney’s cuter and fluffier creation: Stitch.
Stitch isn’t a classic hero. He doesn’t have six-pack abs (although he can lift ridiculous amounts of weight), and he has more than a few anger issues that deter him from saving the day. However, he manages to fall in love with two girls who both break the standard princess mold.
I loved Disney princesses growing up. I wanted to be Snow White or Cinderella. I wanted to be Ariel or Belle. I wanted to marry a prince. I wanted a happily ever after.
Honestly, as a kid, I never noticed that all these princesses had the same hourglass figure. But would that really be something I would think so odd in a world filled with Victoria Secret posters and sexy advertisements plastered on every bus stop?
Disney princesses were meant to be Barbie look-a-likes. They were meant to fit the perfect mold of what a woman should look like. And their princes? Of course they looked handsome or muscular. Even the Beast turns out gorgeous in the end. Nothing was out of place.
Then along came Lilo & Stitch.
Lilo isn’t a little princess who wears frilly dress or sings enchanting songs. She is human. Her “friends” bully her, and she practices voodoo to help manage her depression. She fights with her sister. Physically, she’s–for a lack of a better word–chunky.
Yet, her lack of perfection isn’t something you notice throughout the film. You see her compassion toward the lost Stitch. Her willingness to learn new things. Her immense love that even extends to serving peanut butter sandwiches to fish.
Do young girls run out of the theaters yelling, “Why isn’t Lilo prettier?” No. They’re too busy falling in love with who Lilo is, rather than what she looks like.
For someone like me–a college student who *might or might not* watch old Disney movies on a Friday night instead of partying–Lilo’s older sister Nani is the best example of a realistic body image in children’s films.
Nani isn’t a slender Ariel or delicate Snow White. She has substantial legs and an actual pelvis that would be capable of holding up a human being. When she wears a bikini, you can even glimpse the faintest hints of a (gasp!) stomach.
Nani looks strong, athletic, sensible. Sure, she’s not an obese princess (although I’m sure Disney has that in the works), but I could actually picture her walking down the street. When I watch Lilo & Stitch, I’m not focused on copying Nani’s perfect hairstyle or tiny waist. I’m focused on how to copy her driven attitude and devotion to her sister.
Lilo herself takes pictures of real human beings. Overweight, swimsuit clad women. Farmer’s tanned tourists. The people forming the wallpaper in her room aren’t magazine models. Just like Stitch, Lilo, and Nani, they are individuals who have real bodies. They could be the lady down the street or the guy ringing you out at the grocery store. They could be your neighbor, or they could be yourself.
Lilo says of every single one of them, “Aren’t they beautiful?” She sees these people for their bodies, but she also sees them as more than that. She sees their inner characteristics. Their personalities. Their dreams and ambitions. Their potential to be another extension of her family.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
Yes, Lilo. Yes, they are.
–> What do you think of Disney princess bodies?
–> What lessons have Disney movies taught you? Good or bad. Besides that you shouldn’t eat apples given to you by witches.
Thanks to Amanda for the link-up!