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Disney debuts its first plus-size protagonist, a ballerina battling her own reflection

The young ballet dancer 'battles her own reflection, overcoming doubt and fear by channeling her inner strength, grace and power.'

Disney debuts its first plus-size protagonist, a ballerina battling her own reflection
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Disney Animation

Disney is winning praise across social media for its new short film, "Reflect," which features the studio's first plus-size protagonist and explores the challenges young people often face with body image. "Reflect," which is episode seven of season two in the "Short Circuit Experimental Films" series on Disney+, centers around a young ballet dancer named Bianca who "battles her own reflection, overcoming doubt and fear by channeling her inner strength, grace, and power." The narrative struck a chord with many online, who shared that they were moved to tears and reminded of their own childhood.



 


The film begins with Bianca happily and confidently practicing by herself in an empty dance studio before class starts and others walk into the room. However, her confidence visibly deflates when her peers with more conventionally accepted "dancer bodies" come into the rehearsal space. Her instructor's feedback of "tight tummy, long neck" proves to be the final straw as her confidence shatters and the mirror becomes a fractal monster engulfing Bianca in hundreds of reflections of herself. The girl eventually begins to let go of her insecurities about her body as she dances and moves forward with confidence and grace like the skilled dancer she is.



 

According to PEOPLE, the short was introduced by its director, Hillary Bradfield—a Disney Animation story artist who worked as a storyboard artist on "Avatar: The Way of Water"—by saying that it's all about body positivity. "I feel like I'm a very body-positive person in principle," she said in the series. "But when it's on a personal level it's a lot harder to be body positive. Setting the story from a dancer's perspective seemed just natural. It's part of the craft to be looking at your posture and checking things in the mirror, so it just seemed like a really good way to put her in that environment where she has to look at herself but she doesn't want to."



 


"When people watch the short, I hope they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look, and feel okay about the tough parts of the journey," she said. "Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to a good place and that just makes the good place that much more beautiful," Bradfield added. Disney fanatics of all ages have been raving about the short film online, sharing how they relate to the story. "This is very encouraging and I am glad Disney decided to include a 'plus-sized' heroine," @HeidiMalagisi1 tweeted. "16-year-old me needed this Disney short before I quit ballet because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in class anymore. I’m glad little ones will have this. 10/10 for 'Reflect,'" @MeganPotter_ shared.



 

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