Ursula gets skinny to sell makeup

ursula

Jezebel recently reported that Disney gave The Little Mermaid’s sea witch Ursula a major makeover for their new cosmetics line. Like maybe she went on “Extreme Makeover: Underwater Edition.”

“You might might not recognize her: As you can see in the image on the left above, her waist has been whittled and her double chin’s gone. Talk about a poor, unfortunate soul! (And the Queen of Hearts is looking mighty slimmed-down, as well.) …But was Ursula forced to go on a crash diet so she could model for beauty products? Because that’s bull—.”

Well, I’m not above getting into the body image issues raised by female Disney villains on a makeup compact (SLOW FEMINISM NEWS DAY), so here are my thoughts on the matter.

Disney sucks when it comes to women and beauty. We know this. We never expect Disney to do the right thing when it comes to representing women and their bodies. But here’s the thing: I’m actually not sure that Disney did the wrong thing either. Or at least maybe they didn’t do any worse than they’d already done.

I remember when I was a kid, I loved “The Little Mermaid” and my mother hated it. Hated it. I mean, she loved the music and the animation (who doesn’t) but hated the message and told me why. And I believe she told me at some point or another that she didn’t appreciate that Ursula was the only fat character. And she was the villain. Not only does the movie send a message that a girl should give up her voice and become someone else for a man, but then it takes it a step further by showing us that a fat, darker-skinned woman = bad.

So my first thought when I saw this makeup was actually, Well, awesome…Disney doesn’t think they have to show women as thick to say they are terrible people. That’s progress. But then I thought, Yeah, but turning her into a skinny bitch isn’t really helping women out either.

I loved Ursula in all her throaty, swishy, cynical glory (and I felt like she got screwed in the end — Ariel did break the deal, after all). Even though my mom worried about the message the movie was sending, I didn’t see her fat as a bad thing, and I wish Disney didn’t either. This new makeup line is obviously embracing the dark, sexy side of the evil characters, and I don’t think Ursula needed a makeover to do that. She was sexy enough as she was.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what Disney puts on a makeup compact though; they need to start with their movies. The sooner we see female Disney characters in all shapes and sizes — and that includes princesses and villains — the better.

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Rachel Wilkerson
By: Rachel Wilkerson

Rachel Wilkerson writes the blog The Life & Lessons of Rachel Wilkerson, where she covers those "getting it" moments when a light bulb goes off and suddenly everything makes sense. Whether it's a new way to get motivated to work out or the new gadget she never knew she always wanted, she loves sharing her lessons with other people in a straight-up, no-BS kinda way. Her work has been featured on Shape.com and she is a panelist for U by Kotex's Real Answers. When she's not writing, downward dogging, drinking tequila, or writing about downward dogging and drinking tequila, she works full-time as a community manager for a hip little online entertainment company in Houston. She and her boyfriend recently bought a juicer and are officially addicted.