For the first time in their 85-year history, Walt Disney Animation Studios has debuted its first plus-size lead character at the front and centre of a story. Any characters previously considered plus-size have either been villains or background characters.
The move has been met with widespread praise for giving representation to those not as often seen on our screens, and for helping to break down the barriers of discussing body dysmorphia and body confidence at a young age.
Reflect, is a short film following Bianca, a young ballet dancer, as she struggles with her confidence and body dysmorphia in an imaged focused world, and throughout her journey overcoming doubt and fear and building her inner strength.
Directed by Hillary Bradfield, a Disney Animation artist who has worked on the likes of Frozen 2 and Encanto and inspired by her own experiences with body image and her personal body positivity journey. She said:
Bringing the story from a dancer’s point of view felt very natural because in this profession you look at your posture and a lot in the mirror…I thought it would be good to put her in an environment where she has to look at herself, when she really doesn’t want to…If people watch this short, I hope they can be more positive about their bodies
It will be part of Disney’s Short Circuit series of experimental films, focusing on body image and the importance of developing and protecting your own self-esteem.
In the trailer, her teacher is seen telling her ‘Tight tummy! Long neck!’ as she gets into position at the barre. Surrounded by her fellow classmates, the mirror shatters around the little girl as she struggles with her body image. It then goes on to show Bianca overcoming her fear using her inner strength and finishing the ballet class.
An all-new Short Circuit Experimental Film has arrived! Stream “Reflect” and all the Short Circuit Experimental Films by Walt Disney Animation Studios artists now on @DisneyPlus. 🩰 🎆 pic.twitter.com/c0gw5U4ecc
— Disney Animation (@DisneyAnimation) September 14, 2022
As news of Reflect started spreading on social media, it evoked an emotional reaction from fans who spoke out about what the film means to them, as well as sharing their own similar experiences, with one writing: “I needed this when I was a child”
Someone else said: “I wish I could have seen this when I was younger! But so happy things are changing!🥰🥺”.
Another wrote: ‘16 year old me needed this Disney short before I quit ballet because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in class anymore. I’m glad little ones will have this. 10/10 for Reflect!’
According to the NHS, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance, which are often unnoticeable to others. People of any age can have BDD, but it’s most common in teenagers and young adults and affects both men and women.
If you have been affected by the story, contact the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation here.
Of course, there’s a long way to go with regards to representation of many different types of people, however Disney has been working hard to show its inclusivity when it comes to its latest projects.
Reflect is available to watch on Disney+ now.