Disney Unveils Its First Plus-Size Protagonist

Disney Unveils Its First Plus-Size Protagonist

In a historic first for the studio, Disney has introduced its first ever plus-size female protagonist in their forthcoming animated short, Reflect.

Unveiled as a part of Disney+'s Short Circuit suite of experimental films, Reflect is set to follow the tale of Bianca, a young ballerina who "battles her own reflection, overcoming doubt and fear by channeling her inner strength, grace and power." Tackling the topic of body dysmorphia and promoting a more body positive outlook, the short sees Bianca confronting her own reflection and, through the power of dance, symbolically shattering her insecurities in the process.

In typical Disney fashion, Reflect is as cute and endearing as it is heartwarming with many greeting the trailer with overwhelming praise. "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," one Twitter user wrote. "I’m glad little ones will have this."

"Setting the story from a dancer’s perspective seemed just natural. It’s a part of the craft to be looking at your posture and checking things in the mirror, so it just seemed like a really good way to put her in that environment where she has to look at herself and she doesn’t want to,” says Director Hillary Bradfield, who's previous credits include films such as Frozen 2 and Encanto. "When people watch the short, I hope that they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look and feel okay about the tough parts of their journey. Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place. And that just makes the good place that much more beautiful."

Reflect comes as the latest effort by Disney to promote inclusivity and feature more diverse characters. Earlier this year, Disney notably ruffled a few conservative feathers more than once with the inclusion of a trans man buying tampons in an episode of Baymax and the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in the most recent live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.

As discussions on fatphobia once again come to the forefront of pop culture discourse, the introduction of Disney's first plus-size character that isn't cast in the role of villain or comedic relief feels like a progressive move for the company.

While there are valid criticisms that the studio's first plus-size protagonist is featured in a story entirely about body image, given Disney's long history of perpetuating problematic and harmful stereotypes in their media properties (and even funding politicians that have backed discriminatory legislation), Reflect is, at least, a step in the right direction.

Reflect is currently streaming on Disney+.

Photo courtesy of Disney+