Disney’s ‘Reflect’ stars a young plus-size ballet dancer — and fans are excited

LOS ANGELES — Disney finally has its first young plus-size heroine, and fans across the internet are elated.

“Reflect” is a short film now on Disney+ about a young ballet dancer named Bianca who struggles with her body image. Though the film was first released on the platform in September as a part of the studio’s Short Circuit Experimental Films series, many social media users are now celebrating “Reflect” as a win for representation among young girls.

“16 year old me needed this Disney short before I quit ballet because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in class anymore,” one user on Twitter said. “I’m glad little ones will have this. 10/10 for Reflect!”

“I don’t think y’all comprehend, this is my Ariel,” a TikTok user said in a video, captioned “(Disney+) you really got me in my feelings.”

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Disney did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

Body positivity is something director Hillary Bradfield strongly believes in, she said in an interview featured at the start of the short. Making the film from the perspective of a dancer, she explained, felt natural.

“It’s a part of the craft to be looking at your posture and checking things in the mirror, so it just seemed like a really good way to put her in that environment where she has to look at herself and she doesn’t want to,” Bradfield said.

In the short, Bianca is able to overcome her negative feelings and dance freely. But body positivity and self-acceptance can be easier said than done, Bradfield said.

“When people watch the short, I hope that they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look, and feel okay about the tough parts of their journey,” Bradfield said. “Sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place. And that just makes the good place that much more beautiful.”

Disney has made multiple steps in recent years to improve the diversity of its characters in its animated films. Earlier this year, the show “Baymax,” a spin-off from “Big Hero 6” featured a transgender character. In 2020, Disney’s Pixar released its first animated feature starring a Black character, with “Soul.”

These recent depictions are a departure from those seen in many of the company’s prior movies. The Disney/Pixar film “Wall-E,” released in 2008, negatively portrayed obesity in humans as synonymous with environmental destruction — a lazy depiction that lacked nuance, according to some critics.

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