Stinebrickner-Kauffman said she took this issue on after a friend of hers — a mother to a grade-school daughter — posted about it on Facebook. "Girls have seen Minnie Mouse as a healthy character in their lives ... to have her image subverted like that is troubling."
Girls are "bombarded" by impossible physical figures in the media, says Stinebrickner-Kauffmann, and to have such a familiar face — and shape — be turned into such a skinny Minnie seems like it could fuel the insecurities young women often have about themselves and their bodies.
Models are indeed taller and thinner than most women, and those features are further exaggerated in fashion illustrations used by designers — and by Barneys in its promotional material for the Nov. 14 launch of its displays, says Steven Stipelman, assistant chair of fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Those are the images that are being protested, as the film short has not been released beyond the trailer provided to The Associated Press. The film does not feature the drawing that has been the focus of criticism, though Minnie does undergo a transformation as soon as she steps onto the catwalk in front of Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, International Herald Tribune reporter Suzy Menkes and Harper's Bazaar global fashion director Carine Roitfeld, among other recognizable faces. Runway Minnie even masters the straight-ahead stare and bouncy strut that real-life models aim to master.
She then comes quickly back to reality and her everyday appearance, and the film ends with her just as happy as herself window-shopping on Madison Avenue as she was in Paris.
"Fashion drawing is a fantasy," said Stipelman, who teaches illustration. "They are conveying a mood, a feeling and attitude. It's supposed to make you feel like you want the attitude of this person, not like you're going on a diet so you can look like this person."
He adds, "It looks exaggerated because you know what you're comparing it to. If you didn't know what Minnie looked like, you probably wouldn't even notice."