Why we need a plus-size princess

Most people are sent harmful messages about their body and appearance from a very early age, and this is something we must all do more to combat. When it comes to young women, and the encouragement many recieve to dress up as princesses and fairies, we are recieving very specific messages about what it means to be a woman. So, why is it important that we see a plus size princess represented?

It has become so normalised to associate beauty with goodness, and evil with ugliness that we hardly notice the trope any more. In turn, thinness is associated with beauty and so goodness and thinness are also linked. A slender person is somehow seen as more virtuous, perhaps becauase we think of slender figures as more healthy and assume the person must have worked for this. Equally, we judge larger people as lazy or unable to help themselves 'become better.' The language is so ingrained that it fails to be problematised as often as it should.

Quite aside from the fact that many slender people are unhealthy, and many fat people are perfectly healthy, the moral indignation we use to talk about these issues pre-assumes we have a right to an opinion. We don't. People's bodies, their lifestyles, choices, health, decisions around dress... are all entirely their own. Being judgemental isn't helping anyone, and certainly not the person at whom all this condemnation is thrown. 

The problem, however, is that the most vicious criticisms tend to be internalised. Why? Well, it all begins in childhood and the messages we receive about beauty and self worth. When we are constantly bombarded with images of perfection and princesses, then inevitably we begin to draw comparisons and find ourselves wanting. Being a princess often hones in on two things: a desire to have blonde hair (i.e. be white) and to be slender. This is racist and sizeist; both of which are extremely anti-body positive. 

So, why is it important that we see a plus-size princess, whether it's from Disney or anyone else? We need to begin challenging the idea that being slim is what any young person should aspire to. We need to teach that you can be fat... and also happy and brave and beautiful. Being fat is not a character defect, but a mere physical trait that we do not need to remain afraid of. The earlier different body types are seen represented, the less likely it is that harmful ideas around body image will develop into adulthood.