I recently found several articles online, some old, some newer, that claim that Disney fat-shames people using the villains in their movies, especially women. They talk abut Disney’s The Little Mermaid, with Ursula as the star villain. So, the question is, does Disney have an obsession with fat-shaming women?
One article talks about just four villains. This article is written by Julia Brackett, and is titled, Fat-Shaming in Villain Design. From the article, “Disney villains seem to follow some pretty strict patterns throughout their movies…Women and men alike (but lets be honest—women moreso) are designed to be fat and ugly to show that they are evil. Characters like Ursula, the Queen of Hearts, Madam Mim, and even Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp) are designed to be heavy, ugly, and portray some deeply disturbing behaviors.” I wondered if there were more than four.
The second article titled The Problematic Disney Body Image Trend We’re Not Talking About talks about the way in which fat characters are shamed for their weight, so much so that the waistlines of several Disney villains were slimmed down for toy line of multiple villains.
The author states, “Disney slimmed down its curvaceous crooks for a line of “Designer Villains” dolls sparking harsh criticism when the limited-edition ladies were released in 2012…[Melissa] May laments that Ursula’s “silhouette [was] robbed of every ounce of delicious curve,” asking whether Disney sat her down over a cup of tea to explain the marketing technique as “a vehicle to make you more palatable to a culture that demands perfection.” “
But is this actually part of a bigger problem, as some feminists and others have said? Or is it simply a case of misplaced anger?
To answer these questions, I explored the Wikipedia page listing all Disney theatrical animated feature films. In other words, every Disney animated film that has been in the movies. Starting from the earliest actual feature film (Snow White And The Seven Dwarves), here is a chart with the headers of Fat Villain, Skinny Villain, and Athletic Villain.
A few films were omitted, specifically those without an actual villain or minor releases, such the Three Caballeros and other similar movies. Also left out were such films as Dumbo (whose villain we never see), Bambi (whose main villains we never see), and quite a few others.
This list includes only those movies with a single hero or heroine and a villain. These are commonly referred to as the Princess Movies, though some are not princess movies. Most of the movies between Walt Disney’s death and the reviving of the animation department by his nephew Roy Disney, with The Little Mermaid, are not included.
Below this list, I have added the cast of Disney supporting cast members in a positive role in the heroes’ life that have also been heavy-set, whether female or male.
After viewing this chart, please let me know if I have missed anything. However, it should be quite clear that not only does Disney not have a penchant for villainizing fat women, the exact opposite is true. It would seem that Disney has a problem with skinny people, as the vast majority of their villains are just that, extremely skinny and often tall people.
|Fat Villains||Skinny Villains||Athletic Villains|
|Stromboli (Pinocchio)(male)||Evil Queen (Snow White)||Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)(male)|
|Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)||Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)||Clayton (Tarzan)(male)|
|Madam Mim (Sword In The Stone)||Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)||Commander Rourke (Atlantis)(male)|
|Ursula (The Little Mermaid)||Cruella DeVil (101 Dalmatians)|
|Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)(male)||Shere Kan (Jungle Book)(male)|
|Shan Yu (Mulan)(male)||Judge Doom (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)(male)|
|Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)||Jafar (Aladdin)(male)|
|Scar (The Lion King)(male)|
|Captain Hook (Peter Pan)(male)|
Monseigneur Claude Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame)(male)
|Yzma (Emperor’s New Groove)|
|Queen Narissa (Enchanted)|
|Dr Facilier (Princess and the Frog)(male)|
|Mother Gothel (Tangled)|
|Te Ka (Moana)|
Supporting characters who could be considered heavy or stout:
Many of the Seven Dwarves
Fairy Godmother in Cinderella
The Three Fairies in Sleeping Beauty
Baloo in the Jungle Book
King Triton and Flounder in The Little Mermaid
The Genie in Aladdin
Mufasa in the Lion King (he is well-fed more than heavy)
Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast
Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas (although she doesn’t have an actual body)
Tanana in Brother Bear
Grandmother in Mulan
Lilo in Lilo and Stitch
Mama Odie in the Princess and the Frog
Maui in Moana
So, it would seem that most Disney villains are tall, skinny men, and very few are fat people, and four are heavy women. Most of the heavyset villains are men. It is clear from this list that not only does Disney not fat-shame women, but in fact have a positive view in general towards heavier women, as you can see from the heavy supporting character list.
On a side note, there is a great video I found by Audrey … about how the Disney Princesses are still role models today.