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Skinny Minnie Mouse In Barneys Holiday Display Sparks Controversy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Skinny Minnie is stirring up controversy.

High-end department store Barneys and Disney are defending their supermodel makeover of Minnie Mouse for a holiday campaign featuring a 3-D light show and "moving art" video.

The 3-minute video features a dream sequence in which a gaunt-looking 5-foot-11 Minnie walks a Paris runway in a one-of-a-kind Lanvin dress before awakening as her normal self, wearing the same designer duds she donned on the catwalk.

WCBS 880's Paul Murnane reports


It is part of Barney's holiday window display, titled "Electric Holiday," which features other Disney characters similarly slimmed down.

The display has brought plenty of criticism from critics, fashion industry insiders, celebrities and New Yorkers.

"I know today's women think today's beauty is very thin and I don't think so at all," one man said.

"It doesn't look like her at all, she needs to eat more," another man said.

"If anyone thinks that looks like Minnie Mouse they've got to be kidding, that's Minnie Mouse with plastic surgery," one woman said.

"It's not the same. It's not the same Minnie," said Mary Fardone, a tourist from England. "She'd never be the same if she's too skinny."

CBS 2's Sean Hennessey showed Minnie's makeover to shoppers at the Disney Store in Times Square. Many shoppers did not approve.

"A lot of kids might get the wrong impression that the old Minnie wasn't good enough, and this is how the new Minnie is supposed to look," said Tamara Smith of Brooklyn.

"I showed my daughter the images, and she was like, 'Who is that?' And she watches Minnie," Denise Bidot added.

Bidot is a plus-sized model who said the caricature sends the wrong message to kids.

The message, Bidot said is, "If I want to fit the designer dress, I have to be a size 0, and that's not always the right choice."

Clinical psychologist Jeffrey Gardere of the Touro School of Medicine agreed.

"This can affect how young children, especially young girls, view body image, and try to live up to an impossible body image of size 0," he said.

1010 WINS' Gene Michaels reports


A petition on calling for Barneys to get rid of the altered Minnie has garnered more than 133,000 supporters, including actress Virginia Madsen. The author of the petition said supermodel Minnie sends the wrong message to young girls.

But while most like Minnie just the way she is, others had no issues with the new, temporary look.

"I have no problem turning Minnie into a runway model," said Devon Martin of Lower Manhattan. "It doesn't promote anything in my eyes. It's a cartoon."

The people behind the campaign pointed out that when Minnie wakes up, she's back to her normal self, with which they say she is fine.

Barneys defended the display, stating on its website that Minnie is "empowered throughout the video."

"While it is unfortunate the sketches that were intended to be concept art have been taken out of context, Barneys New York is fully committed to the magical spirit of 'Electric Holiday,'" the company said. "We are confident our lighthearted holiday project along with the video's positive message will be embraced by not only the fashion world, but Disney fans alike."

Other characters, such as Daisy Duck and Goofy, are also part of the holiday campaign.

The window display will be unveiled on Nov. 14.

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