Health

Teen circulates petition for plus-size princess

Feb. 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM ET

Video: In Friday’s installment of TODAY’s weeklong “Love Your Selfie” series, TODAY hears from teens on body image, including one who started a petition asking Disney for a plus-size princess.

They are both teenage girls growing up in a society that has celebrated skinny women, but they hold different viewpoints on how the dolls that little girls love to play with should really look.

As part of TODAY’s “Love Your Selfie” series, the girls shared their feelings about the images presented by the beloved, yet sometimes controversial, playthings.

One girl, Jewel Moore, is pushing for Disney to create a plus-size princess while the other, Justina Sharp, celebrates Barbie and believes the recent Sports Illustrated cover girl known for her unrealistic proportions should stay just the way she is.

Moore, a 17-year-old high school junior from Virginia, has launched an online petition asking Disney for a princess with a larger body.

Her effort on Change.org, now with more than 31,000 signatures, says a plus-size female protagonist “who was as bright, amazing, and memorable as their others” would help heavier girls “who are bombarded with images that make them feel ugly for not fitting the skinny standard.”

Moore told TODAY’s Natalie Morales and Tamron Hall Friday that plus-size people have not been fairly represented in the media.

“Society has very, very few positive plus-size role models, especially in films,” she said. “Our perceptions start when we’re children. Disney is so influential, especially to little girls with their Disney princesses, that a plus-size princess would sort of be adding something new to the variety.”

She agreed that Disney princesses have grown stronger but said there’s still more the company could do.

“I love how far Disney has come,” she said. “They now have different races, different cultural backgrounds. And they have kind of gotten away from the damsel in distress to the more empowered person.”

A statement from Disney read on the show said: “There are many types of princesses, just as there are many types of girls, who each have their own unique history, character and story. We appreciate and celebrate all types of women and girls and their own individual beauty."

Moore said she was happy with Disney’s words, but added: “I would like for them to … do a little more. If they really do feel that all women are beautiful than they can sort of push a different type of body image.”

 This image provided by Sports Illustrated on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2014, shows the cover-wrap of the magazine’s 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue. (...
Uncredited / AP
"Today, truly, anything is possible for a girl," Barbie (Mattel, actually) writes in the special edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Sharp, meanwhile, said Disney princesses “are all amazing in their own way, especially the newer princesses.”

She mentioned Merida, the princess from Disney’s 2012 movie “Brave” who has long, wavy red hair.

“She was just sort of herself and that’s really important,” Sharp said. “And I think Disney is starting to recognize and represent that.”

Sharp, a fashion and entertainment blogger, recently wrote an article for The Huffington Post that was headlined: “I’m a Barbie girl, in the Real World.”

Sharp writes that it’s usually adults who bash Barbie for giving girls a bad body image but says they don’t see the doll as girls do.

“Little girls donʼt see that she has a tiny waist, they see that she has a teeny purse,” Sharp wrote. “Adult problems should not be projected onto the way a little girl sees herself.”

She also dismissed the need for a plus-size Barbie.

“Sheʼs a doll,” Sharp wrote. “She lives in her own world, and does not need to accurately represent the people in ours. Sheʼs the perfect dream for girls to aspire: to be successful and independent.”

On TODAY, Sharp reiterated her stance that while she loves Barbie, she does not aspire to look like her.

“Barbie is just really great because she is exactly who she is and she’s tried everything that she loves to do,” she said. “It’s important for young women to recognize that if there’s something you really want to learn and something you want to try, that you should be able to try and that’s what Barbie represents.”

More From Today: Where to Shop for Cute and Cheap Plus Size Clothing

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