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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Disney’s Skinny Minnie Mouse & Daisy Duck on a Crash Diet?

Minnie-As We Know Her

What happened to Minnie Mouse? Has she been on a crash diet or done a liquid fast? Has she always secretly dreamed of a career as a runway model? Could she be anorexic?

Nope, Disney has given her a makeover for a new holiday campaign designed for Barneys New York. (Photo on right from Barneys’ Campaign. You can see images of the skinnier Daisy Duck, even Goofy, in the Women’s Wear Daily article announcing the new campaign.)

So, what message does this send to everyone, kids especially, who love the happy, fresh faced, approachable and lovable Minnie Mouse–compared to the barely there, high fashion, not-sure-when-I-last-ate version with ‘attitude’? 

I know. Some people reading this might be saying, how many kids will actually see the 3-D film Disney made for Barneys New York’s Holiday Campaign that shows Minnie heading off to Paris to meet up with her high fashion model friends?  Who knows?  But I’m guessing Barneys will be promoting it, as this is a sales campaign. In my opinion, even if it’s seen by one impressionable little girl who loves Minnie, or one teenager who used to worship Disney characters and today finds herself vulnerable to an eating disorder, or one grown up with fond memories of Minnie and now feels her own body is too fat…I think this is just plain unnecessary, misguided and, frankly, dumb–from a marketing standpoint! Counter to popular belief, not all publicity is good publicity.

Disney's Now Defunct Lead BottomRemember Disney’s Habit Heroes Exhibit which launched early in 2012?  It was promptly shut down due to a loud outcry over its blatant “weight-ism” and potentially damaging messages connecting self-esteem and size? So, this is the second time in less than a year that Disney has launched an initiative that shows a great insensitivty (even ignorance) about people of all shapes, sizes, weights.

This leaves me scratching my head. So, what’s up with Disney’s decision makers and their judgment?  Have they looked out their windows and seen the people who stand in line at Disney’s theme parks. Do they know anything about those of us who buy Disney products? We come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes!  We don’t want to look at our beloved childhood characters and suddenly wonder, “Hmm, she’s lost so much weight. Is she telling me I should get rail-thin skinny, too.”

Imagine what could be accomplished if Disney were to make a corporate-wide decision to promote healthy body image in all of its endeavors? Wow!  Wouldn’t that be amazing?

In the meantime, get ready Disney. We in the eating disorders treatment, advocacy, and health at every size communities are once again preparing an all-out campaign to let you know of our great concern and disappointment in your judgment!


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com


  1. Wow, that’s disturbing! I didn’t even realize the second picture was Minnie! I realize that in fashion, sketches are often drawn elongated, but this…this is so far from realistic it’s difficult to even look at. I have 3 neices, ages 7, 6, and 4, who are always asking about the differences between descriptions like beautiful, sexy, sluty, etc. They love to play dress up and want to look like the characters they see on TV. But they are already body-conscious, too. Even the 6 yr old has started asking how many calories are in the foods she eats! (no, her mom is not a dieter, but her grandma is.) This version of Minnie is appears unhealthy and unattainable, and I dare say inappropriate for children. Frankly, it is for me, too. I can’t relate to this Skinny Minnie, and since I know what she used to look like, I’m offended by the image and thus the company.

    Is there a webpage or email address where people can voice their opinions on this? I will happily share mine!

  2. I appreciate you writing this article Ellen! The skinny Minnie is not even remotely attractive IMHO, and please notice that she has NO BREASTS! The original Minnie Mouse is adorable and they are crazy to fiddle with that look. This sort of thing drives me insane. Good for you for fighting it! I want to hug all the young, impressionable girls who are going to be vulnerable to this insanity.

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