This Disney Cast Member has become a champion for plus-size representation at Disney Parks after she lobbied for more inclusive costumes for its performers.
At each Disney Park, the Costuming Design and Development team handles the construction and maintenance of all the Entertainment Cast Member costumes worn by performers at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland, as well as the uniforms donned by all sorts of Disney Cast Members each day. Of course, these Cast outfits are called costumes too!
However, one Disneyland Resort employee noticed that not every Cast Member could step into the magic for some specific roles, such as Knick Knack the Elf, who helps Guests meet and greet with the Disney Park’s Santa Claus during the holiday season. Lainie Trout, a resource assistant with the Costuming Design and Development team, has advocated “for lines of costumes that afford more options for plus-sized Cast Members in entertainment roles.”
Lainie began working at Disney California Adventure Park in 2005 before moving on to reality television production. However, 12 years later, she was back at Disneyland, working in the Attractions department alongside her future husband in New Orleans Square. After that, she transferred to the Entertainment department, working as an Entertainment Host and Character Lead, where she noticed the costuming options were not accessible to plus-sized Cast Members.
As a result, Lainie put together a presentation regarding Disney’s need for a more inclusive environment, reaching out to her department managers and directors. According to Trout, her pitch focused on Disney’s “business objectives” and “how much it means for Cast and Guests to see themselves reflected in the entertainment they partake in.”
In addition, Lainie told Disney Parks Blog: “So often, we see padding used in costumes, or we see them thinned down to fit what society tells us is beautiful. But accurate representation matters to both our Cast Members and our Guests.” Luckily, the pitch worked, and Lainie says that seeing her impact when a Cast Member realizes there’s a costume to fit their size, it’s “the most rewarding feeling.”
In fact, one such Cast Member is already experiencing the benefits of this inclusivity. Stephon-David Haynes, who performs the role of Knick Knack the Elf, thanks Lainie for giving plus-sized Cast Members a voice within the Entertainment department because plus-sized people can sometimes feel like there’s no space for them in our society. Haynes says, “It’s loud, and it’s vibrant and colorful — everything that is you. You’re magic.”
Especially in the wake of Guest complaints that the new TRON Lightcycle / Run coaster discriminates against plus-sized Guests, accessibility from Disney Parks like Trout’s becomes more vital than ever.