Bradfield introduces Disney’s first plus-sized female protagonist in short film on body positivity

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Rose Costello

Disney incorporates their first plus-size model in short film, Reflect; beginning to join the movement of body-positivity

Rose Costello, Staff Writer

On October 29, 2022, Disney released “Reflect,” a six-minute short film with their first plus-sized female heroine, Bianca, who teaches the important lesson of body positivity. 

“Reflect” is the sixth episode of the second season of Disney’s Short Circuit Experimental Films, which is an experimental program where any member of Walt Disney Animation Studios can pitch an idea and possibly have that idea chosen to be turned into a short film. Reflect was directed by Disney animation artist Hilary Bradfield, who had also worked on Encanto and Frozen II

“Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place. And that just makes the good place that much more beautiful,” Bradfield states in an interview prior to the release of the film. 

Bradfield describes herself as a very body positive person, and her own body philosophy is something that is very important to her. When approaching the idea of incorporating body positivity into a film, Bradfield says that telling the story from the point of view of a dancer was the obvious choice.

“Setting the story from a dancer’s perspective seemed just natural and it’s a part of the craft to be looking at your posture and checking things in the mirror.”

Disney has been making an effort to remodel the company in order to have a wide range of films where every young viewer can see someone they relate to. Many have seen the short film as a beautiful part of the Disney series, sharing their positive views on the film online. 

One tweeted in response to the film, “This is very encouraging and I am glad Disney decided to include a ‘plus-sized’ heroine.”  

Though many have understood and appreciated the valuable lesson of the film, there has also been some criticism to follow. The author of the Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary, Adam Bray, claimed the film “isn’t long enough to parse nuances of the message.”

While some thought six minutes was not long enough to teach the lesson of feeling comfortable in your own skin, Bradfield captures this message beautifully. For dancers specifically, it can be extremely difficult to look in the mirror in a leotard or tight fitting clothing and be completely content with what is staring back at them. 

Dancers who do not fit the typical, tall, thin ballerina look can often feel discouraged and that they will never be as talented or seen the same way as the stereotypical dancer. Despite this, Bradfield effectively tells the story of a young dancer who despite not looking like the rest of her class and feeling as though she was entrapped by this, can still find her confidence and realize that she is just as capable of being gifted, and the way she looks is just one of her many attributes that make her unique and special. 

Though Bradfield tells the story in a short duration, she still manages to successfully narrate an inspiring story that anyone struggling with loving their own body can learn from and hopefully emulate Bianca’s journey