Barney's Super Skinny Minnie Mouse Sparks Protests

For the campaign, she’s a slinky, sexier Minnie with toothpick legs, long eyelashes and shadowy lids

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012  |  Updated 9:34 AM EDT
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Goofy and Minnie will both be slimming down for their debut in Barney's holiday window display. This is not a photo of their new looks.

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High-end department store Barneys is under fire for featuring a waifish Minnie Mouse in its holiday display rather than the beloved voluptuous polka dot-sporting rodent of Disney lore.

Advocates, plus-sized models and industry veterans alike have condemned Barney’s Minnie makeover into a character more reminiscent of Kate Moss than her full-figured, huggable former self for her debut in the store’s Madison Avenue window display on Nov. 14. For the campaign, she’s a slinky, sexier Minnie with toothpick legs, long eyelashes and shadowy lids who is draped in a too-short Lanvin mini dress and wearing stilettos thicker than her waist.

Both Barneys and Disney say that the super skinny Minnie is not the cornerstone of the holiday campaign, but a mere blip who appears during a dream sequence the department store created as part of its “Electric Holiday” three-minute promo, which includes a 3-D light show and a short film.

Both companies told the Daily News in a statement they were “saddened” by critics’ attempts to distort their holiday campaign into a social cause to attract media attention.

"They have deliberately ignored previously released information clearly stating this promotion is a three-minute ‘moving art’ video featuring traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence set in Paris where she briefly walks the runway as a model and then happily awakens as her normal self wearing the very same designer dress from the fashion show," Disney and Barneys told the News in a joint statement.

Minnie isn’t the only character who will transform into a much smaller, more chic version of herself for Barneys’ window display. She’ll be accompanied by Daisy, Cruella, Snow White, Princess Tiana, Goofy and, of course, Micky, all donned in designer attire and all a fraction of the width of their former selves.

Ragen Chastain, a body image consultant from Los Angeles, started a petition on Change.org calling for Barneys to nix the Minnie makeover project. More than 120,000 people have signed it, including Academy Award-nominee Virginia Madsen and Walt Disney’s great niece Abigail Disney.

"The message is if your body doesn't fit in to a designer dress, drastically change your body. Not, let's insist on a designer on a designer that's talented enough to make a dress that fits you," Chastain told the News. "That's a dangerous message to send girls, 'Minnie Mouse doesn't fit in to a high fashion dress so we changed Minnie Mouse, not the high fashion dress.'"

Barney’s creative director told the News the real Minnie Mouse wouldn’t “look so good” in the high-fashion Lanvin dress so they had to make her taller, and thinner, a concept that appalls plus-sized model Lizzie Miller.

“People may think it’s blowing it out of proportion, but where does it stop?” Miller, who has appeared in ads for Target and Macy’s and also has done designer work, asked the News.

The skinny Minnie tarnishes the mouse's iconic Disney brand, Rebecca Donlon, who was out with her 3-year-old daughter, stopped to tell the News.

"She's supposed to be adorable and cuddle," Donlon told the paper. "This new, skinny Minnie doesn't look like someone you'd want to hug, now does she?"

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