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Cinderella and the Hidden Princesses

By Shira Moskowitz--Skinny sells. Reality apparently does not.

And unfortunately, for the major corporations that single-handedly produce the films our entire generation of youth grows up watching, they don’t seem to care—and it’s never been more apparent than in Disney’s newest version of Cinderella.

In the movie trailers, we see Cinderella horse back riding, cleaning, and showing up at the ball with extremely and overwhelmingly unhealthy proportions. 

Her waist is so tiny that she looks virtually edited and Disney has been accused of using photoshop or CGI to alter the size of her waist.

Actress Lily James, who plays Cinderella in the movie, addressed the public earlier this week and said she was not photoshopped, that she naturally has a tiny waist and was wearing a corset (a corset that, I should note, restricted her to a liquid diet.)

She went on to criticize people who, similar to “fat shaming” have tried to make her feel bad for her naturally thin shape.

Why do I care about this? I care because the message that is sent to the young girls watching this movie is that this is real life—this is the way all “princesses” look.

I care because even as a 24-year-old in recovery watching that preview, it made me question the size of my own body and I know the actress in the movie has been photo edited in a multitude of ways. Think about the young girls who do not know that.

I care because I remember that when I was seven years old all I wanted to be for Halloween was a butterfly princess. I got the costume. It was the most beautiful blue dress I ever saw. I got the wand and I got the crown. But being an overweight child and knowing that I didn’t look like the real princess I saw on TV, I remember thinking that I would never look like the princess I wanted to be so badly.

I still remember the blue puffy dress with the butterflies plastered on it. I remember wondering if the other girls in school would notice I didn’t look like the rest of the princesses we all knew and loved.

Now, let’s look at the one princess who has curves: Princess Fiona.

Princess Fiona is an ogre in the Dreamworks film, Shrek.  That statement explains itself. And once she turns back into her "human self" she slims significantly.  

We need to see realistic girls with realistic bodies. That means all types of bodies from large to small to medium to in between. 

We also need to let go of the undergarments that suck in all the Disney female characters so tight that in real life they would not be able to breathe.

I don’t want another girl to feel ugly in her Halloween costume. I don’t want another girl to wonder why her waist doesn’t look like her hero, Cinderella’s.

And I don’t want the only princess I can relate to to be an ogre, either.

The point here is not the size of Lily’s waist or if she was even photoshopped or not. The point is that her character, Cinderella, was designed to have her body shaped to look one certain way. It’s the same shape all Disney princesses’ are: tiny. Extremely tiny.

Maybe if Disney designed their princesses to have different kinds of body types, there would be a chance for other actresses to get their chance on screen. Just like Lily James, I am sure there are actresses out there who are proud of their bodies just the way they are—curvy, petite, tall, disabled, and everything in between. But as long as Disney continues to only portray one kind of princess-the skinny, able-bodied princess, those other hidden princesses will never get a chance to shine.

I’m not sure if there’s an answer for how to get Disney to give up a few bucks in order to help promote healthy body image. There is, however, an answer for us as consumers and that answer is awareness.

Let’s talk about our bodies. Let’s talk about why we love them. Let’s talk about why each person is meant to look unique and different.

Let’s talk about the fact that we, in real life, do not look like Disney characters because they are not real.

Let’s talk about it and let’s talk about it without shame and without fear.

Let’s talk until the seven year old who doesn’t feel beautiful enough to look like the real butterfly princess feels like she’s a queen-because if we don’t, no one else will.

About this blogger: Shira Moskowitz is an eating disorder recovery mentor, activist and blogger who believes everyone has the right to love themselves for who they are. Shira started her blog, Hello Life: A Year Without A Scale, two years ago to help herself recover from anorexia. She has not used a scale and has been in recovery for two years now.  She's made reminding others they are never alone in their fight to recovery her life mission. You can find her blog, resources for her online support group and contact information for guidance or mentorship at

Also by Shira:

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