There seems to be a new trend in the media and advertising world that involves beloved cartoon characters going under the knife. Recently, I wrote an article entitled “Disney Villains Go Designer” that showcased glamorized Disney characters as collectible dolls. Among the villains in this line was Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid. She had been drastically altered to have a tiny waistline and in place of her trademark tentacles she wore a poufy purple dress. This time around Ariel is the one with a brand new look.
Clinica Dempere, a plastic surgery center in Venezuela, is using Ariel as a spokesperson – or spokes mermaid – for their new ad. In the advertisement Ariel is seen swimming away from Ursula and straight onto an operating table. The tagline reads: We make fairy tales come true. The finished product is a leggy Ariel with noticeably different facial features and an overly enhanced chest.
I want to know when it will stop being socially acceptable to sexualize the cartoon characters of my childhood. Ariel, Ursula, and many other Disney favorites have fallen victim to those people who see a need to change something that does not need to be fixed and make it more modern or more “attractive”. There was no need to change Ursula’s waistline in order to make a collectible doll, if anything it would have been more unique to see a doll with curves. Ariel was supposed to be 16 years old in The Little Mermaid and now she is being used in an advertisement for plastic surgery that shows her nearly bursting out of her top. I thought the point was to encourage children that they are perfect the way they are and to promote a healthy body image, but if they see their favorite cartoons being changed in these ways all it is going to do is promote insecurity.