The Unrealistic Body Image in Many Famous TV Animations

We all have our favorite animated movies and television shows growing up. It may range from Pixar to Disney and even many live-action adaptations of these heroes, heroines, princes, and princesses. We re-watch all of these movies over the years making them cult-classics. Most people never really think about it while watching these movies, but what attracts us to watching the movies? Is it the plot of the story or is it the moral values/ethics of the main protagonist (usually the favorite character)? If these characters have an influence in our lives especially as kids when comes it to morals and how they act in the movie, what do they portray about a healthy body image?

Usually, one of the goals of the movie animator and director is to make the screenplay as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Because of the rise of the stigma against being overweight and obese, it is believed that being impossibly thin or having an incomprehensively thin waistline is socially acceptable and aesthetically pleasing. This unrealistic body image, when noticed, is scattered throughout many famous animated movies and live-action films targeting a younger audience.

Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles” (2004) was a successful hit in the box office during its release, costing $92,000,000 to finance the creation of this movie and making $633,000,000 to this date. Not only that, but 94% of Google users say that they like it. It is obvious that this movie is incredibly successful, however, if you look at the animations of the main characters, especially with the females, you can see the unreal body figures. For example, Mirage (not pictured), Elastigirl, and Violet.

Another example is seen in Nathan Greno and Byron Howard’s “Tangled” (2010). This movie came out in 2010, however, the story of Rapunzel has been told as a children’s story for many years prior. This means that the anticipation for this movie was pretty high, in results it did very well at the box office for Disney, promoting more shows and actors to act as Rapunzel in Disneyland. The movie was also very aesthetically beautiful with some expensive breath-taking animations, but Rapunzel’s animated waistline is unrealistically small for her body.

The next movie is, Ron Clements and John Musker’s “Hercules” (1997). This is one of the oldest story plots that Disney has decided to take on and create an animated film because it is based on Greek mythology. This movie was pretty average in the box office; however, the ratings are really high. It is still being shown on channels directed to kids to this day. This movie is about the story of Hercules and his love interest, Megara, who fits the description of being portrayed as an unrealistic body figure.

The last movie that I will bring up is the only live action movie that I will mention; however, it is a very popular children’s story and if you were to ask the majority of people they would know this tale. It is Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella” from 2015. Just like the other movies, it did really well at the box office. This is one of the first Disney-produced live-action adaptations of its classic animation. However, there was a lot of controversy about “Cinderella’s tiny waistline.” In an interview the lead actor, Lily James, claimed that her waist was not animated, instead, she wore a tight corset. There isn’t anything wrong with wearing a corset, but she also did state that during continuous days the cast did not have a set lunch time so she had to keep her corset on. It was too tight to the point where she couldn’t eat solid foods because it would get “stuck” so she would just have soup. Therefore, instead of letting her waistline be (she is naturally thin), they made her wear a corset uncomfortably tight just for aesthetic appeal.


It is important to address the choices of these animators and directors who create these artificial figures for many of these characters. Many kids want to be these characters because they see them as role models and heroes. They are seen as an idol because they are ethically inspiring. All of them have superpowers, go on adventures to learn about themselves, find true love, and/or leave an environment where they are oppressed for a better life. These kids want to be them in every aspect that they dress up as these princesses/characters. And this form of media can lead to eating disorders among kids who may be slightly overweight or do not fit the unrealistic body image of their favorite princess. It is hard for kids to understand what is healthy or not, but they can see what is stigmatized vs. socially acceptable.

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