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Sum of Us protests Disney/Barneys’ ‘Skinny Minnie’ campaign

This may not technically be comics-related, but Disney’s Mouse and Duck characters are almost as well-known for their comics incarnations as for their animated short films. And the issues raised by corporate watchdog movement Sum of Us are related to concerns that get discussed in the comics community.

What’s going on is that Barneys department store has partnered with Disney to create a holiday campaign called “Electric Holiday.” The store will host window displays that will turn classic Disney characters like Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Goofy into runway supermodels. Of course, there will be exclusive, Disney-themed designer fashions in the store as well.

The creative problem, as Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman describes it, is that “the standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress.” He adds, “If we’re going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie.”

That’s not cool with Sum of Us, which describes the designs as “stretched out, unrealistically skinny, and aimed at young women.” The group writes, “Young girls are already bombarded with waif bodies and impossible figures, contributing to soaring cases of anorexia, bulimia, and other dangerous eating disorders. Now Disney is using children’s cartoon characters to promote the least realistic, unhealthiest body image yet.”

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