Disney’s “Reflect” is Breaking Barriers

The Walt Disney Animation Studios has released a new short seven-minute film on Disney+ called “Reflect” about Bianca, a young plus-sized heroine ballerina who finds the confidence and courage in her image through body positivity and her love for dance.

On Sept. 14, the short film was released along with Disney’s Short Circuit Experimental Film in season two, episode six. This series tells the stories of the artistic team at Walt Disney Animation Studios with an innovative and experimental idea. More short films in the series include “Dinosaur Barbarian,” “Going Home” and “No. 2 to Kettering.”

As the film opens on Disney+, director Hillary Bradfield prefaces the intention behind creating the film and the meaning it is meant to portray.

“When people watch the short, I hope they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look and feel okay about the tough parts of their journey,” said Bradfield.

In the film, Bianca’s ballet class is beginning, and she is seen struggling to face her reflection in the mirror that makes up one wall in the dance room.

“Setting the story from a dancer’s perspective seemed just natural, and it’s part of the craft to be looking at your posture and checking things in the mirror,” said Bradfield. “So, it just seemed like a really good way to put her in that environment where she has to look at herself but doesn’t want to.”

Then, as Bianca is looking into the mirror it cracks and sends her into a dimension where she is surrounded by hundreds of her reflections. Eventually she realizes the only way to overcome it is to shift her focus away from the reflections and into the power of her love and ability to dance.

“Being a dancer for most of my life, I see how making the lead character a dancer and putting her in that setting can help in the push for body positivity,” said senior Brianna Rossback. “There’s so much pressure around the image of being a dancer that sometimes we can forget what we’re even doing it for.”

In the short length that the movie is, the young girl’s journey with working through her struggle with body image and fear is navigated through the grace and strength in her dancing.

According to The Guardian, “In 2020, the company introduced its Stories Matter initiative, pledging to be more inclusive and consultative, and acknowledging Disney’s responsibility to ‘consciously, purposefully and relentlessly champion the spectrum of voices and perspectives in our world.’”

Many viewers think Disney is on the right track to emphasize representation and equity.

According to an article reported by CNN.com, a Twitter user tweeted, “16-year-old me needed this Disney short before I quit ballet because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in class anymore. I’m glad little ones will have this. 10/10 for Reflect!”

“I think it is to understand people from different walks and backgrounds of life. A community bond that is more and to understand something not familiar,” said graduate student Dewayne Scott when asked about inclusion in media.

Arlete Parez Paez, assistant director of the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, described inclusion in this way: “To get educated. To go learn about another race, to go learn about another gender and to go learn about another culture.”

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