Jewel Moore, a junior right here in Farmville, VA has made international news with her petition on change.org for Disney to include a plus-sized princess. In just under 3 weeks, Jewel’s petition has amassed over 25,000 signatures and national and international news coverage.
In part, Jewel’s petition reads:
I made this petition because I’m a plus-size young woman, and I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positive plus-size character in the media.
Studies show that a child’s confidence correlates greatly with how much representation they have in the media. It’s extremely difficult to find a positive representation of plus-size females in the media. If Disney could make a plus-size female protagonist who was as bright, amazing, and memorable as their others, it would do a world of good for those plus-size girls out there who are bombarded with images that make them feel ugly for not fitting the skinny standard.
The Huffington Post reports that Jewel is correct in her assessment of how girls engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.
The reaction to this petition also demonstrates social learning theory – how positive and negative reinforcement from others influences gendered norms (in this case, the importance of and type of ideal appearance for women). For negative reaction, check out hostile comments made about Jewel in response to her petition and even broadcast on national news. However, Jewel has also received a great deal of support in her quest for more realistic and a variety of body types to be represented in children’s media – my favorite is this great video created by an artist of his work to create a princess in Jewel’s image!