by Aya Katz
Some critics of Disney’s new animated feature, Moana, say the movie is getting laughs at the expense of the overweight. The movie is set to be released on November 23, and it features a Polynesian princess and her hunky sidekick, the demi-god Maui. The problem, for some critics, is the body type of the powerful Maui.
Yahoo Style reports:
According to New Zealand politician Jenny Salesa, the body shape of Maui is cause for concern. “When we look at photos of Polynesian men and women from the last 100-200 years, most of our people were not overweight and this negative stereotype of Maui is just not acceptable,” she writes on Facebook. “No thanks to Disney.”
Salesa calls Maui’s depiction “obese,” and thinks children might get the wrong message about their bodies. “The environment our kids grow up in and what they are exposed to have a role to play. Disney movies are very influential on our children. It is great that Moana is the lead. However, it is disappointing that Maui, one of our beloved historical ancestors from hundreds of years ago, who was a very strong man [and] a skilled navigator, is depicted to be so overweight in this kids’ movie.”
Disney has been accused of fat-shaming before, in reference to a collaboration with Blue-Cross Blue Shield in a series of public service announcements and websites trying to shape children’s choices toward a more healthy lifestyle. According to Karla Ivankovich, PhD, an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield, the series consisted of bullying overweight children.
However, the demi-god Maui is a good character, not a villain, and despite having a heavy build, he is powerful and well-liked. In this case, having a heavier character may in fact help improve the self-image of those viewers who are also heavy set. Instead of fat-shaming, this may be a case of fat pride.