Is ‘Red Shoes’ Actually Fat-shaming?

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I’ve been looking into the controversy with Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs and I’m prepared to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. But before we get into that, let’s do a little recap.

The film, said to be released in 2018, appears to be a parody on the typical princess movies that we have grown up with. Not much has been revealed about the movie other than it is a variation on the Snow White story, and the only things we have to go by are a billboard and a trailer, both of which are causing quite an uproar. The billboard showed up at the Cannes Film Festival, and has quickly spread throughout the internet. The billboard reads, “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short?”

It’s not hard to see why this has got people heated, as it suggests that Snow White would not be considered beautiful if she were fat. The trailer sends a similar message, which features two dwarfs watching Snow White transform from thin to heavy after removing a pair of red shoes. After the transformation is complete, the dwarfs appear to be disgusted by Snow White’s change in appearance.

When I first saw the billboard and trailer, I’ll admit that I was pretty upset about it. But then I saw Chloë Grace Moretz’s reaction to everything and my mind started to change. Now, I consider myself indifferent with Chloë Grace Moretz (who voices Snow White in Red Shoes), as I know some of the movies she has been in, but don’t really know much about her other than that. However, I find it hard to believe that she would willingly sign up for a movie that promoted body-shaming.

In a series of tweets, she explains how she was shocked by the marketing campaign that has come out for the movie. She also states that she “lent [her] voice to a beautiful script” with a story that is powerful for young women and hopes that people will still see it. It isn’t much from the actress but I absolutely believe her. There’s no doubt that this billboard and trailer are really bad marketing, but that was out of her control and again, I have a hard time believing that anyone (who isn’t already known for being offensive) would willingly sign up for a project that promoted body-shaming.

Perhaps this could all have been avoided if the billboard were worded differently. Although I don’t know anything about the plot of the film, the way it’s been described makes me feel like it tackles questions a lot of people have about princess movies. Why are all princesses/heroines thin? Why are fat characters mainly a source of comedy rather than something more meaningful? Perhaps a question like one of these would have been better for the billboard and wouldn’t have put the film in jeopardy before people got to find out more about it.

I’d really hate to see a movie like this tank so early on. If the movie actually does have a positive message like the producers and talent are claiming, it would be a shame if that message were lost because of a really bad marketing campaign (which has since been scrapped). It’s definitely okay to move forward with skepticism, but I hope that people are willing to give it a chance since a movie like this is desperately needed. We need to be hearing more stories that challenge society’s ideas of what it means to be beautiful, and I truly hope Red Shoes is a movie that does just that.

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