Due to be released in 2018, the Snow White ‘parody’ film Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs has already begun to draw attention–and not as a fun new take on a classic fairytale. Turns out it’s the kind of narrative that makes you want to walk into the studio, fall to your knees and scream “WHYYY?!” at various people until someone eventually escorts you from the building.
Let’s start with the trainwreck of a trailer.
Two dwarfs magically transport in the an opulently furnished room, and quickly hide as a tall, slim woman enters – our heroine, Snow White. She begins to undress, and the dwarfs make no attempt to avert their gaze. On the contrary, they’re clawing at their own faces as they’re overcome with desire for the woman they are spying on, without her knowledge (I’ll just stop here to remind you that this a film for children).
The next shot is so blatantly voyeuristic that it would be more at home in an adult erotica than in kid’s cinema. The dress drops, the dwarfs openly gape. Snow sits on a chair and takes off her beautiful red shoes – and what is set up to be a dramatic change occurs in her.
The dwarves look on in what can only be described as abject horror at the monstrous spectacle in front of them… has Snow sprouted fur and a hideous snout? Is her body now covered in glistening scales? Has she grown a second, sneering, grotesque head?
No. The true horror of Snow White’s form is in fact… a very regular, slightly plus-sized woman.
“I’m getting very tired of studios claiming to push a ‘body positive’ message by acting like it’s a total shocker that women can be plus-size and beautiful, at the same time.”
Now, the film has yet to actually be released, but I’m going to go ahead and take a wild guess at how this one is going to go. The princess Snow needs magic shoes in order to remain beautiful (read: thin). Her secret is at risk of being revealed, causing some high-jinx with a bunch of dwarves. Eventually, through the help of seven men, Snow realises that she’s beautiful even though she’s fat (what a concept) and stops wearing the magic shoes that help her conform to a patriarchal beauty ideal. She probably also gets a man, a true hero for falling love with Snow despite her hideous form of Regular Woman, because how can a princess have a happy ending without a dude to shack up with at the end?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting very tired of studios claiming to push a ‘body positive’ message by acting like it’s a total shocker that women can be plus-size and beautiful, at the same time. You’re not teaching us anything new, guys. We already know this. In fact, it seems like you’re the ones that need schooling on this subject.
The advertising campaign for Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs shockingly got off to a rocky start, with the reveal of this poster at Cannes Film Festival in May.
— Tess Holliday 🥀 (@Tess_Holliday) May 30, 2017
As Holliday rightly points out, this is a horrific message to send to a young and impressionable audience–that Snow White is no longer beautiful, simply because she is fat. She even carries many other traits of what is deemed to be ‘beautiful’ by Hollywood and society–long sleek hair, smooth creamy skin–but no, she’s got a bit of chub, so her beauty card has been revoked.
Holliday called on the film’s lead voice actress, Chloe Grace Moretz, to explain the poster and it’s message. Moretz’s response was that she was “appalled and angry“, and the promotional material had not been approved by her team. Fine–but surely at this point she is more than well aware of the script and the story?
“Why is the narrative of the fat girl always her discovery that beauty and fatness are not mutually exclusive?”
Where was her anger when she was given a script that begins with telling its young audience that a woman must drastically alter her body in order to be accepted? While it’s the studio and the writers that are truly at fault here, some responsibility also falls on the actors–if no one agrees to work on a sh*tty, damaging script, it won’t be able to go anywhere. The poster campaign has now been terminated, but there’s a lot of concern that the messaging of the poster is highly representative of the film as a whole.
Why is the narrative of the fat girl always her discovery that beauty and fatness are not mutually exclusive? Why can’t she already be aware of this fact and have the same kind of adventures as the Rapunzels, the Meridas and the Moanas, rather than one that revolves entirely around her weight? The film is being marketed as a ‘parody with a twist’… but it’s a twist that we all see coming, and are rolling our eyes at well before release.
It’s definitely time we moved away from having to ‘prove’ that larger women (or anyone) can be beautiful. Just have a plus size princess that doesn’t need to be taught or told that she’s beautiful. You don’t need to keep making the whole storyline revolve around this unoriginal epiphany. It would be infinitely more body positive.
Image courtesy of Locus Creative Studios