If a Disney princess were a real human being, her freakish proportions would probably make it difficult for her to survive. With a waist smaller than her head, her torso might only have room for about half a liver and a few centimeters of intestines. If the researchers who studied Barbie’s similarly insane proportions are correct, she’d probably suffer from diarrhea and eventually die of malnutrition.
In a recent set of illustrations, artist Loryn Brantz gave the princesses a little reverse plastic surgery. Here, she’s sketched for us what Elsa, Ariel, Pocahontas, and the rest of the Disney princess crew would look like with realistic waistlines.
“As a woman who loves Disney and has dealt with body image issues, it has been something I’ve always wanted to comment on, particularly after seeing Frozen,” says Brantz. “While I loved the film, I was horrified that the main female character designs haven’t changed since the ’60s. The animation industry is historically male dominated, and I think that contributes to how these designs became so extreme in their proportions–their necks are almost always bigger than their waists!”
Of course, little else about a Disney princess looks realistic either. As one researcher pointed out, the cartoon characters’ gigantic eyes are actually bigger than their wrists. Even Snow White, who had a fairly realistic-looking waistline in 1937, was drawn with a head nearly twice as large as the model she was based on. But Brantz argues that adjusting the characters’ waists would have a positive impact on the little girls who have turned the princess line into a billion-dollar business.
“As children we may not realize these images in the media (magazines, Barbie, cartoons) affect us, but they definitely do,” she says. “Media outlets with the opportunity to change the way women are viewed and view themselves should start taking responsibility. It only took a couple nudges of a line to make those princesses’ waists less extreme, and they still looked beautiful and magical.”
It would be a simple change to make. Still, it’s worth noting that researchers haven’t definitively proven that unrealistic figures have a negative effect on little girls; in one recent study of 300 preschoolers, higher levels of exposure to Disney princesses actually correlated with a better body image.