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On the catwalk: Model-thin Minnie Mouse draws criticism

October 25, 2012|By David Lazarus
  • A depiction of Minnie Mouse as a rail-thin model is drawing criticism for promoting an unrealistic body type to women (and mice).
A depiction of Minnie Mouse as a rail-thin model is drawing criticism for… (Barney's New York )

It seems innocuous enough: Minnie Mouse dreaming of being a fashion model.

But Disney and Barney's New York are getting hammered by critics who say Minnie's little daydream -- part of a film in a Barney's display -- reinforces the notion to women (and mice) that they're only attractive if they look like they haven't eaten in a few weeks.

The problem: When Minnie has her dream, she appears on the catwalk not as her normally plump self but taller and thinner -- you know, your basic underfed fashion model.

"Girls have seen Minnie Mouse as a healthy character in their lives," said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, founder of, a watchdog group. "To have her image subverted like that is troubling."

In just over a week, a petition on the website has attracted about 80,000 online signatures. Similar petitions are up on other sites.

Barney's says it's all a misunderstanding.

"Viewers will recognize the Minnie they know and love, as she takes a turn on the runways of Paris and in her own mirror, wearing a custom creation from one of the world's greatest designers," the store said in a statement to the Associated Press.

It said the Minnie display "proves that true fashion lovers come in all styles and sizes."

While this might be a rodent in a teapot, I agree with those who say it's time to highlight women looking like, well, women, not some highly stylized and frankly alarming image of a person who sacrifices a healthy diet for some stick-figure body type.

The same goes for depictions of men. Seen the J. Crew catalog lately? These guys need a cookie.

Minnie, if you're reading this: We love you just the way you are.

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