Audiences ‘reflect’ on body image in new Disney+ short


Nadine Fox, Staff writer

“Reflect” is a short film currently streaming on Disney+ featuring its first-ever plus-size protagonist. The animation is about a young ballet dancer named Bianca who battles with her reflection, hence the title of the film. The director, Hilary Bradfield, said in an interview that she was inspired by her own issues with her self-confidence. She shared that the dance studio felt like a great setting for the animation about body-image and self-love because of the predominant social mindset regarding the craft.

So many young girls develop low self-esteem and body insecurities by comparing themselves to their peers. “It’s a 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 the main character has to look at herself and she doesn’t want to,” said Bradfield in the same interview. “When people watch the short, I hope that they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look and feel okay about the tough parts of their journey.”

The short is about overcoming body issues and self-doubt, and it taps into what it is like to struggle with body issues. “Reflect” has been praised for exploring body positivity and emphasizing finding inner self love, strength, grace and power. However, the praise has also come a bit of controversy. There has been some ongoing criticism with how the film encourages an unhealthy lifestyle instead of suggesting solutions. Others, though, have criticized it for telling young girls that it is okay to be overweight because they will be okay in the end. For some, the issue of obesity is not something that should be represented, just like anorexia, but addressed by suggesting changing to a healthier lifestyle.

I thought this film stemmed from good intentions: to encourage young girls not to com-pare themselves to others, which has a really positive message. However, I can see how some people are concerned about the message being perceived in the wrong way, similar to how some people love the singer Lizzo for her confidence and what she stands for while others criticize her for “fat acceptance” and “encouraging obesity and unhealthy habits”. The themes presented may be considered darker for the audiences that may watch it. This representation, though, is meant to be an accurate depiction of overcoming struggles of self. “Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place. And that just makes the good place that much more beautiful,” said Bradfield.

At the end of the day, children’s minds are so precious and easily impressionable. From that perspective, I can understand how everyone is looking at it from different angles because both sides of the argument are fighting for giving children the best possible message to take away. Body positivity should not be about one type of look, but it should rather be about valuing yourself enough, despite your flaws, to feel at home in your own skin.“ Fat acceptance” is the idea that you do not need to change, nor should you want to, just because you are what society deems to be a “bigger” person.

We need to take away the idea of the ideal size, aesthetic or “reflection” of a person and look at their physical, mental and mental well-being. Children should not be raised believing that their bodies are somehow wrong. Films like “Reflect” emphasize the importance of allowing children to grow into themselves without society’s preconceived notions of the ideal size affecting their self-acceptance.