Cyber Bullies & Haters Bash Disney for ‘Glorifying Obesity’ in its New Film About a Plus-Size Heroine

disney+ short reflect plus size heroine ballerina

Walt Disney Animation recently released a beautiful animated short that features a plus-size heroine, but trolls, cyber bullies, and otherwise awful creatures have crawled out of the woodworks to spew hate and bash the House of Mouse for even considering such a character.

reflect short disney+ plus size heroine ballerina

Credit: The Edge

Years ago when the internet was but in its infancy, most decent, upstanding, and moral individuals would never have believed that it would one day serve as one of the biggest safe harbors for naysayers, bullies, internet trolls, and all-around miserable people who relish whiling away the hours of the day by spewing hate and harshness toward people they’ve never met–and probably never will meet.

Such miserable individuals attack everyone and everything for anything and everything. And for nothing. They literally derive a sick pleasure from teasing, mocking, bullying and hating others online, whether the writers behind online articles or fellow users on a social media platform.

In a disgusting display of unbridled meanness and hate, some of these dour and joyless types have sunk to hosting a proverbial heyday following the release of a brand-new animated short by Walt Disney Animation.

Disney premiered the animated short titled, Reflect, exclusively on the Disney+ platform as part of Short Circuit, an exciting series of inspiring, experimental animated shorts on the streaming platform.

Hillary Bradfield, director of Reflect, whose resume includes work on Disney’s Encanto and Frozen II, says the short film focuses on the importance of body positivity.

disney animation reflect short plus size heroine

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

“I feel like I’m a very body-positive person in principle,” she said, “but when it’s on a personal level, it’s a lot harder to be body positive.”

Bradfield says her hope is that when people watch her short film, that they are able to feel more positively about themselves, as well as about their appearance. She further says she wants those who see her film to feel good, even in the tough parts of their journeys.

In only 2 1/2 minutes, Reflect teaches a beautiful message of self-acceptance, self-love, and body positivity through a story about Bianca, a young girl who aspires to be a ballerina. As the scene opens, Bianca is practicing her positions at a ballet studio, but when her instructor has all the students approach the bar, Bianca visibly loses the confidence she seemed to initially exude. What ensues is a journey–albeit short in running time–during which Bianca faces her negative self thoughts and ultimately finds herself with a hard decision: will she define her self-worth by only one aspect of physical build, or will she embrace Bianca, the person?

Many who’ve watched Reflect say they come away feeling inspired, free to love themselves a little more, and hopeful about the future of storytelling, and all because Disney dared to bring a plus-size protagonist to dazzling life–and then allowed her to bring us all a very timely, very poignant message.

Others who’ve seen the short, however, seem to lack the wherewithal to accept anything outside the dime-a-dozen, status quo offerings of slim and petite Disney princesses, and they have had zero problem with broadcasting their hate for Disney and for the idea of true inclusion that involves the portrayal of an overweight lead character.

@ArthurTheHat took to Twitter to slam Disney as the brand “encourages being unhealthy” with its first plus-size heroine in Reflect. He takes it yet another crazy step further by campaigning for the canceling of Disney+ because of his slanted view of the message from the short. Disgraceful.

Sadly, the internet is also full of “anti-fat rhetoric,” much of it perpetuated by fiends who hide behind a username and an airbrushed profile picture, assuming the photo is even that person at all. In what universe is it appropriate for anyone to use an animated story about a child–by Disney or any other entertainment brand–to groom and grow fatphobia and ostracization of other human beings based on their waist sizes, weight, or dress size?

Answer: there isn’t such a universe. But alas, trolls will be trolls, and the old adage is truer than ever–that hurt people, hurt people, as inner unhappiness and dissatisfaction often replicate themselves.

disney+ reflect short plus size heroine

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

One Twitter user interjected his two cents about Disney’s long overdue inclusion in its films of those whose body types and shapes vary beautifully and uniquely from the standard cookie-cutter presentation. The truth is that such hate-filled white noise is very telling about the person behind said white noise. A wayward society in which obesity is glorified and trendy?

Wow. Just wow.

“Disney glorifies being fat and unhealthy because it’s trendy,” Fenton tweeted. “People would rather be accepted for being fat and unhealthy than to recognize it is a serious health issue that is likely to kill them early. We were healthier when fat was unfashionable.”

Sadly, those behind such comments have exactly zero understand that, medically speaking, obesity isn’t an automatic indication of unhealthiness. They further have no awareness of other types of well-being: emotional health, psychological health, and spiritual health, among others.

Rest assured that if you could peek into the hearts and minds of most human beings, you’d see that deep down, when given the choice between loving and accepting themselves and being a specific dress size, they’d choose being able to love themselves every time.

Patrick Adney (@patrickadney11) took to Twitter to mock the idea that Disney’s first plus-size protagonist is a heroine. Oh, and then he proceeded to bash Hollywood for “promoting the acceptance of obesity as something positive for people’s health, in a movie for little children.”

It’s sad that people like this simply cannot conceive principles like true inclusivity being a beautiful thing.

Disney’s depiction of a young lead character in an animated short with a heavier build than the 90-pound female protagonists to which fans have been subjected for almost 100 years, is genius, kind, and a move in the right and moral direction. Contrary to what the trolls and cyber bullies want you to think, such inclusivity isn’t some celebration of mediocrity or laziness; nor is it a checkmark on a child’s refusal to maintain an arbitrary, standardized body weight.

For the love of hope, the character in Reflect is a child!

disney+ reflect short plus size heroine

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

The only small-mindedness associated with the debate over Disney’s first-ever animated piece to feature a plus-size lead character is in those whose minds are clearly so small, they cannot process a singular understanding or acceptance outside of their own.

How many of those bullies and trolls and naysayers and haters are truly walking in contentment everyday? There’s no way to know for sure, but this writer will bet that much of the hate they spew has its roots in a longer for their own self-acceptance.

disney+ reflect short plus size heroine ballerina

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

But because this writer does not ascribe to the ideals of bullying and hate, I’ll go so far as to wish those individuals great success in one day experiencing the freedom found in being able to love themselves, regardless of their appearances, thus further freeing them to accept others for who they are as well.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!