So on Friday night, after way too many nights partaking in various Christmas festivities, I found myself on the sofa by 7pm, watching Cinderella. There were no children present, proof of how tired I was I suspect, and I was excited to see 2015’s answer to my childhood.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this film, up until that is, the Fairy Godmother appeared. Nothing against Helen I hasten to add, my problem was not with her, it was with the dress that she put our princess in for the grand ball. Franks and I were watching this film together and as Cinderella landed in her famous blue dress, both of our jaws dropped at the apparent lack of a waist on everyone’s favourite fairy princess.
It has long since been accepted that the princesses of fairy tales in the past were completely unrealistic portrayals of real women; something that was considered dated but just taken with a pinch of salt.
And so I was really excited to see what the directors and producers of this film were going to come up with to break the mould, in a time when body positive messages are crucial. So please imagine my disappointment when I saw that they had not only done nothing, they’d actually made it worse, as Cinderella in 2015 is actually a REAL woman.
In fact I was so incensed about this that I found myself scouring the net to see if anyone else was having the same freak-out as me, and what I found was incredibly disappointing.
In an press conference following the film’s release, one of the journalists in the room asked for a comment on the backlash that the size of Cinderella’s waist had received, the responses were as follows:
Sandy Powell, costume designer:
“I don’t understand what the concerns are actually, I mean Lily does have a small waist but then so do all the girls in the film. All the girls are wearing corsets cause that’s what you wear with period clothes. It creates the silhouette for the period.
Lily’s dress in particular is an optical illusion, the diameter of the skirt is about 2 metres and then it’s got the width here (shoulders) and that really does make the waist smaller than it actually is.”
Now this annoyed me immensely, as since this dress, is as Sandy says, an optical illusion, it means that they went out of their way to make Lily’s waist as small as it was.
One of the producers, Allison Shearmur then chimed in by saying:
“I’m a mum and one of the producers of the film and I think it’s got a lot of attention but the funny thing is it’s ind of paying attention to the opposite of the theme of the movie, which is your sense of beauty and your strength is what’s on the inside and Sandy’s right I was there for all of the early fittings and I would look like I would have a 2inch waist.
I think it’s interesting that the conversation has been about the outside because this is a movie where the real emphasis is on the inside.”
Lily James, the actress who plays Cinderella then said:
“Why are we focussing on something so irrelevant?”
And I’m sorry but that really pissed me off, because the way I see it, this discussion, this issue, is so far from ‘irrelevant’.
So although I kind of get what they mean when they say that they tried to make the focus of the film ‘kindness’, I feel that, following all the worries being expressed surrounding the ridiculous sizes of Disney waists as it is, they could perhaps have made a better(/any) effort to make her look more relatable, more ‘normal’.
Yes the message of the film is to be kind and to be courageous, which is of course important and I do love how kind the character of Ella is, but I feel that really, children are so impressionable and by showing a princess to be that size, they are not putting out the right message. It sort of says that princesses need to be thin, which is, of course, bollocks.
I would hate to think that there is a young girl, watching this film, idolising 2015’s Cinderella, who is fretting that she will never be thin enough to be whisked away be a handsome prince. It’s another example of Hollywood bombarding us with unrealistic beauty standards, throwing these very skinny women into the young faces that they are marketing this film towards.
Yes Lily is a very small actress anyway but if the dress was, as they say, an optical illusion then they had the choice, and they chose to make Lily, Cinderella, as skinny as possible, and I don’t understand why. Making her a little bit more realistic would really have been the ‘kind’ thing to do.
We can’t change the classics and we can accept cartoons for what they are, but really, they were given an opportunity to make a great change with this film and they not only failed but they have made it much worse, and I’m so disappointed.