Five years ago, Disney and Barney’s announced a partnership for the Barney’s holiday window in which they would dramatically alter Minnie Mouse’s body — making her a 5’11, size zero in order to “look good” in a Lanvin dress. There was an uproar, the result of which was that Disney and Barneys changed the campaign, making it a “dream sequence” with Minnie eventually waking up wearing the dress on her actual body.
However, when Disney announced the changes in a press release, they claimed they had planned to do it the whole time and added: “We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a lighthearted holiday project in order to draw media attention to themselves.”
They were talking about me. I was one of the attention seeking activists.
I had started a petition against the campaign that garnered over 140,000 signatures (including actors, models, and Walt Disney’s granddaughter) and drew international media attention.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been called an “attention seeking activist” by a person or company I had called out for oppressive behavior. When activists point out the bad behavior of a company, the response is often to attack the activist. One of the most common ways that activists are attacked is by being labeled as “attention seeking.” Sadly, it can be a successful strategy. Often, people are uncomfortable with change and activism, so they are all too happy to roll their eyes at these rather than engage with the real issues.
Knowing this, I wanted to write an open love letter to any activist who has ever been called “attention seeking.”
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