So apparently, there’s some fancy store somewhere called Barneys. And apparently they’ve just recruited beloved childhood icon Minnie Mouse into their army of evil, promoting poor body-image among little girls while enticing people into the store for half-off sales and cheesy Christmas music played over a tinny loudspeaker.
The story is that Barneys has created a stylized rendition of Minnie, painted tall and slender, wearing a designer dress. She’ll be gracing the windows of the store this holiday season. Now someone on change.org–a site with good intentions, allowing people to create petitions in an attempt to create social change–has started a petition to try and get Barneys and their cohort, Disney World, to do… something. The petition simply asks them to “Leave Minnie Mouse alone,” and then goes into a long, well-meaning tirade about young girls and body image. The statistics quoted in the petition are troubling, for sure. I have a little girl who is perfectly made, and the thought of her ever feeling like she’s too fat/short/tall/thin than she should be sickens me. She is beautiful, and all little girls should know that they are too.
But. There’s always a but. Minnie Mouse is not the culprit here. Remember when I went off on a rant about all the people calling Barbie a bad influence? Same idea here, people. Minnie Mouse is a CARTOON. She is not real. She is not even a person playing a character; she is a DRAWING. Minnie Mouse is an artistic creation. She can be stretched, squished, widened, even erased. Before Barneys decided they hated children and plotted to use the poor mouse as an implement of slow, psychic torture on them, Minnie Mouse wasn’t exactly proportionate. Her head was as big as the entire rest of her body. Her feet were huge and misshapen. And has anyone noticed that she had four-fingered, human-like hands, and that she walked upright, and that she could TALK? This chick was not a normal rodent from the get-go.
So what this well-intentioned lady on change.org seems to be alleging is that young girls see themselves in a talking, deformed, human/mouse hybrid, and that if this human/mouse hybrid grows tall and thin, they will be so disillusioned that they will stop eating in order to look like her. There had to be some malevolent intent there, right?
Sometimes the only appropriate response is, “Ummmmm… okay…”
How about this: how about recognizing that your kid is way too smart to think she’s a talking mouse? How about talking to her about how beautiful she is, just the way she is, rather than hoping that she’ll identify with the cultural symbols you find appropriate and that they won’t be changed in some way that leaves you feeling helpless in the face of a store advertising campaign? How about doing some research on graphic design and art, and instead of moaning about poor Minnie Mouse’s unfortunate transformation, teach your kid about different ways to manipulate images?
There are a lot of dangers facing our kids today. A new rendition of Minnie Mouse in a storefront is hardly one of them.