A recent CTV article was very excited about a new Disney short called Reflect, about a young ballet dancer named Bianca, and its body positivity message. As the resident fat ballerina on this blog, I had to watch it.
Hilary Bradfield, the creator, says “I feel like I’m a body positive person in principle, but when it’s on a personal level, it’s a lot harder to be body positive. I feel this deeply: despite repeated self-talk, I sometimes hate how I look.
It’s so short that the introduction by the creator was almost as long as the film itself so I watched it several times. I wanted to love it. The animation itself was well-done. It had the kind of uplifting Disney “girl overcomes barriers and has a happy ending” story that makes me smile.
But somehow it didn’t, quite. Was it too short to engage me? Too unrealistic? I think it was the latter, which is deeply weird; it’s Disney – of course it’s unrealistic!
Bianca was too small/young to be dancing en pointe (kids should be at least 12 or so to prevent permanent damage to growing bones). Triple pirouettes are hard. And she was so round compared to the stick figure dancers in her class! Those other kids would not have been able to stand in real life, let alone dance.
In some ways, I wanted Bianca to do more ordinary things and be happy, and her classmates and teacher to at least notice her. I know that wouldn’t have been as much of a Disney story that satisfies kids.
But maybe it would have resonated more with adult fat ballerina me who has already learned not to notice anything in the mirror except posture and position. The fat ballerina who will never be any good dancer, but who loves dancing anyway.
I hear that others love Reflect and see themselves in Bianca. I am curious about what you think. Am I putting too much onto the shoulders of this young dancer to be a role model but also somewhat ordinary? What is the right balance of expectations for a plus sized or otherwise different person with talent?