Stop Barneys New York and the Walt Disney Company from Giving Childhood Icons a Supermodel Makeover

Targets: Barneys New York and The Walt Disney Company

Goal: To stop Barneys and Disney from promoting extremely thin and unrealistic Disney characters in their upcoming campaign.

This November Barneys New York is planning to launch their “Electric Holiday” campaign in collaboration with The Walt Disney Company. This campaign will take beloved childhood characters, such as Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, and transform them into high fashion supermodels. The transformation will make these characters approximately 5’11 and thin enough to wear a size 0; in other words, they will be unrealistically thin. When faced with criticism about these drastic makeovers, the creative director of Barneys, Dennis Freedman, insisted that these makeovers were absolutely necessary for the sake of “authenticity.” He commented that “the standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress…the important thing to me was always that it had to be authentic.” His statements, in conjunction with the makeovers, suggest that there is little concern for natural body types in a society that is so preoccupied with “authentic” high fashion.

This campaign presents the false perception that being fashionable and beautiful is only attainable by being extremely tall and thin. While there is nothing wrong with being naturally tall and thin, Barneys is taking characters that are not naturally tall and thin and making them unrealistically so. The media already makes an extreme impact on individuals by promoting how they “should” look. Individuals are constantly being bombarded with advertisements that promote digitally altered bodies over natural bodies. While in reality no individual’s body is completely perfect, campaigns such as this one suggest that imperfection automatically means that an individual is not normal but flawed; not being able to look good in a particular article of clothing means that an individual has to undergo an extreme makeover in order to “fit” their clothes. This creates an unrealistic and unhealthy view of “acceptable” body image.

What’s even more disturbing is that Barneys is choosing to alter well-known children’s characters. Children might see these revamped images of Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck and become influenced by them. While it can be argued that this campaign is targeting an older demographic, there is still the inevitable fact that these characters were originally created by Disney for children. Barneys cannot alter such popular children’s characters without impacting children in some way or another. Children are not immune to developing a low sense of self-esteem; the sad truth is that more and more young children are being pressured to look “good” because of the media and advertisements that promote unrealistic ideals of beauty or handsomeness. Media and society’s expectations impact children and teenagers just as much as they impact adults. By dramatically altering the physical appearance of these popular Disney childhood characters, Barneys is sending the message that the only beautiful body is a supermodel type of body. Disney also condones this message by allowing Barneys to alter their characters in such a manner.

If Barneys wants to be “authentic,” they should not alter these Disney character for the sake of high fashion. If Minnie Mouse was not meant to wear a Lanvin dress in her present state, then maybe she was not meant to wear a Lanvin dress at all. She should not have to be drastically altered just to “fit” her dress; the dress should be altered to fit her just the way she is. Sign the petition below to tell Barneys that Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck are beautiful the way they are and should not have to be dramatically altered in order to look “good.”


Dear Barneys New York and The Walt Disney Company,

The “Electric Holiday” campaign you are set to launch in November should be stopped. While there is nothing wrong with being naturally thin and tall, you are taking beloved childhood characters and changing them so they are unnaturally thin and tall. Your justification for this unnecessary makeover is that you are altering these characters for the sake of “authenticity”; you claim that Minnie Mouse will not look good in the dress with her present body type. This does not seem authentic to me at all. Changing Minnie Mouse merely to fit a dress no longer makes her the authentic Minnie Mouse countless children know and love. The problem with “authenticity” is not with Minnie Mouse but with the dress you are trying to advertise. You are trying to advertise a dress that will only look good on people who look like supermodels; your dress cannot flatter most people with natural body types. You are sending the message that in order to look “good” in a high fashion dress, individuals already have to meet the standards of the dress or drastically change themselves in order to meet those standards.

You are adding to the tremendous amount of pressure individuals already face from the media and society. What makes matters worse is that with this campaign, you are potentially targeting children. While you may say this campaign is targeting an older audience, you cannot deny that you are altering children’s characters. This will influence children because you are taking their beloved childhood characters and molding them into what you believe to be “ideal” figures of beauty. You are inadvertently extending the pressure for Photoshop-like perfection to children and young adults. Please take the action to reconsider altering these popular Disney characters. By agreeing to leave Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck unaltered, you will send the positive message that any type of body can look glamorous in high fashion.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Barneys New York via

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  1. Kids are not experienced and are extremely prone to the influence of suggestions like this, leading to all kinds of image, obsession and eating disorders.

  2. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    no kid wants that!

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