03 April 2013

ursula minor

First, it should be noted that I'm, like, six months behind on this. But, in my defense, I didn't find out about it until Monday (and even then it was by accident while looking up something else Disney related). Which is surprising for several reasons. Most notably because I follow several blogs that I would have thought for sure would have been all over this. And maybe they were and I somehow missed it. Plus I am admittedly one of those people who used to go to Disney animated films specifically for the villains. Oh, yeah. At 13, I totally knew that if I was a lioness I would be all over Scar. And who really wants to be Princess Aurora with her stupid color-changing dress when you  can be Maleficent and change into a fire-breathing dragon.

© Disney

I mean, hello. I can't believe I actually have to explain myself on this one.

Now while I have a love for all things Disney villains in general, my true adoration in a specific manner is for that of Ursula the sea witch from the 1989 animated feature The Little Mermaid.

© Disney

Man. That five year span of '89 - 94 were, hands down, the best Disney years evah. I know everyone is all excited because Pixar just announced Finding Dory, but c'mon. You can't beat The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. You can't. So don't try.

Anywho.

I may have started dying my hair red because of Ariel (true story) but that finned ginger has nothing on the pure fabulousness of Ursula. So fabulous, I probably know more about her than necessary. Like the fact that her look was inspired by drag queen Divine and while she is portrayed as an octopus, Disney's budget only allowed for six tentacles, technically making her a squid. I also secretly want to name my maybe-future-daughter Ursula but I feel like that would fall under the heading of cruel and unusual.

But I think the one thing I really always loved about Ursula was the fact that she is and has always been one fierce bad-ass plus size diva (that would be the Divine in her). She also tells it like it is. Unlike other villains, she doesn't trick Ariel into anything. She lays it all out on the table about what Ariel has to do, how long she has to do it, and what will happen if she doesn't. (Okay, so maybe she neglects to mention that she'll be using Ariel's voice to trick Eric but that's a separate issue.) When it comes to pop culture icons that I want to be when I grow up, Ursula was probably the first one to make the list. And considering I was, like, 8 when The Little Mermaid came out that should tell you a little bit about me.

So, back in the fall Disney released their Villains Designer Collection which are basically vamped up versions of the women we love to hate (they also had a Princess Designer Collection a few years ago). There are coordinating nail polishes and journals and mugs and all sorts of crap you don't really need but really want. The big draw, however, are the collectible dolls.

Now, given my love of all things evil I normally would have been all over this. I used to collect Disney villain crap and Hollywood themed Barbies so this is right up my alley.

There's just one teeny tiny problem.

© Disney

Like I said: this is a teeny tiny problem. Literally.

Why? Disney? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?!?

What were you thinking? Seriously, who's genius idea was it to emaciate Ursula? Because that person has another thing comin'.  Twenty-four years ago when The Little Mermaid was released you created an empowered bold and beautiful voluptuous villain. Just watch Poor Unfortunate Souls and you know Ursula is completely comfortable with her body and that is one of the things that is so inspiring about her character. She's not a real person (obv) so clearly there was intent behind that attitude when she was developed and The Disney Store still sells items featuring her in her original form so what, exactly, was the purpose in the redesign?

It's common knowledge that big name fashion designers target straight/skinny sizes. So apparently Disney's "designer" collection has adopted that same approach. But what message does it send to little girls? How do you explain why the Ursula in the movie doesn't match the Ursula doll? Are you really going to tell a six-year-old that the character went on a diet because apparently even in the animated world thin is in? Disney gets enough, justified, flak from mothers who don't want their daughters growing up with the mentality of Prince Charming being the ultimate goal in life. Suddenly skinnifying one of their iconic villains is not helping that cause.

Now, granted, the Queen of Hearts also got a queen-sized reduction but somehow Ursula's transformation offends me more and I think it's because Ursula owned her size. She was proud of who she was and ain't nobody under the sea was going to take that away from her.

Well, I guess nobody except her creators. Is nothing sacred anymore? I mean, what's next? Trimming the fat off Miss Piggy? (I swear to goddess, Disney, if you svelte that swine....)

Had you heard of the Disney Villains Designer Dolls when they were first released? What are your thoughts on Ursula's transformation?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

7 comments:

  1. Ew, Ursula's makeover makes her look like a deranged substitute teacher.

    This is beside the larger and more important point that you're making, but didn't Ursula kind of trick Ariel by having her creepy eels stalk her movements and thwart any romantic advances/situations? And didn't Ursula also kind of put Eric under an enchantment when she finally showed up on the beach with Ariel's voice?

    And, while we're off the rails anyway, how many chicks that wash up on shore is Eric inviting into the castle? I'm pretty sure that's how horror movies start. Triton was right to be worried about his ginger-haired youngest.

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    1. "Deranged substitute teacher." Y'know, I was trying to figure out how to describe this look and I think you came up with the perfect one!

      And, yes. I forgot that she did use the eels as obstacles though I did mention she *did* trick Eric with the stolen voice. Good point, though, that nobody at the castle was like "Uh, dude, we already have one wayward woman hanging out here do we really need another?"

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  2. That is rediculous! I would have never known that was an Ursula figure. Sometimes things just go too far. The message I get from this is that they feel that svelte and thin is more asthetically appealing. And that is sad. :-(

    I think that they could have done something amazing with the figures (QoH and Ursula and any others altered) by keeping them in their true forms.

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    1. I agree that they could have done something really, really awesome with these characters larger figures if they had opted to! I'm bummed they didn't take advantage of that.

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  3. I'm going to go out on a limb (tentacle?) and suggest that Disney probably did this to save money- I bet all or many of the dolls go through the same mold, and to create a mold for a fat Barbie-style doll would have cost extra- no one else is making a doll in that shape. So in doing so they were totally willing to completely destroy part of what made Ursula so badass. But that's just my guess- my husband works in manufacturing and darn him, he's always getting me thinking this way about how things are made.

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    1. Ah. Interesting theory! I can almost see that point of view. It probably would cost them more money -- sort of like how plus size clothes cost more because they require additional fabric.

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  4. I love the name Ursula and lobbied hard for it with the last two babies....always to be vetoed because of this movie.

    I find it very disheartening to watch this as an adult and realize that Ariel's happiness is tied to a prince....come on folks, lets re-write this and let her learn a thing or two from Ursula and find worth in her own confidence!

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