A new Disney animated short from Short Circuit Experimental Films is garnering praise as well as criticism for its representation of a plus-sized protagonist in a young ballerina.
"Reflect" follows a curvier Bianca, who struggles to separate the ability to dance from the societal expectations placed on dancers to have perfectly lean and agile bodies.
Bianca is historic for Disney, as she is the first plus-sized character in a lead role and not a villain role. Many viewers were complimentary of the ground-breaking character development, but others were wary of young viewers being subjected to heavier leads.
One person tweeted, "It's not okay to normalize obesity to children. Disney and their new short "reflect" can go to hell."
Another person echoed the sentiment, writing, "You wouldn't represent anorexia, Disney, don't represent obesity either. It's wrong. #reflect #disney #BodyPositivity is a disease. Fatness is a cancer on society."
"When people watch this short, I hope that they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look, and feel okay about the tough parts of the journey," Bradfield said, while describing her hopes for her flick. "Maybe sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place, and that just makes the good place that much more beautiful."
Other Twitter users resonated with Bradfield's intent, tweeting, "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. I’m glad little ones will have this. 10/10 for Reflect!"
Bradfield revealed that having Bianca be a dancer was a natural decision. "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."
In one scene, Bianca is admonished by her ballet teacher for her posture, with the teacher stating, "Tight tummy, long neck."
The teacher's comment creates a chain reaction within the young girl. She begins to look in the mirror and stare at her reflection, prompting the mirror to shatter and display herself in the many little cracks it leaves behind. She can't escape her appearance.
It's only when she dances that she feels more confident.
A person on Twitter wrote of the short, "Do recommend for anyone that struggles with the image they see in the mirror. So, everyone. But this is especially for those of us that society shuns for having a body that doesn’t match the alleged "perfect" image. #bodypositivity."
"Reflect" is available on Disney+ now.