An amazing artist is imagining a whole new world of representation and body diversity for Disney princesses. Crystal Walter of NeoqlassicalArt is giving us a glimpse of what Arielle, Belle and all the rest would look like if their bodies actually resembled the different types of bodies we see all around us every day—and the results are incredible.
Generations of children all over the world have grown up idolizing Disney princesses. For decades, those princesses largely adhered to a common aesthetic, i.e., thin and white. It's only in the last couple of decades that princesses have broken that mold, from Princess Jasmine and Pocahontas to Tiana and Moana.
But there's one link that remains solidly in place—every Disney princess that's ever graced the silver screen has a body that's perfectly slender and willowy. But Walter's portraits throw that all out the window.
Her re-imaginings show us what the princesses would look like with waists that aren't narrower than their heads, and with curves that would need a dress size closer to the average American woman's (a 16, according to one survey). Especially arresting is her swapped portrait of Arielle and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
Those with different body types are often coded as the villain in Disney flicks—as if their shapes had something to do with personalities, as if thin equals goodness, and fat equals badness. Walter points out something similar in a body swap rendering of Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. Is it a coincidence that Sadness is presented as shorter and rounder, and Joy is taller and thinner? It may not have been a conscious choice on the part of the film's makers, but there certainly seems to be a subliminal message to it.
Walter is clear that she's not promoting the idea that one type of body is better or more realistic than another. "My stance has always been that all bodies should be seen as equal," she recently wrote on Instagram.
"I focus on making these characters fat simply because I know the struggle of growing up fat, so I can relate, and it helps me." Numerous studies have shown that kids (especially little girls) start worrying about their weight when they're as young as 3 years old.
If more kids could see fat bodies presented joyfully and with pride, couldn't that sad trend change?
Seeing a Disney princess drawn the way Walter has presented them could mean the difference between a young girl being ashamed of her body or feeling like her body is just as good and strong as anyone else's, no matter their size. That's certainly something to celebrate, and we can't wait to see what else she comes up with.