+
Identity

Disney's new heroine is a larger-than-average ballerina dancing her way to body positivity

Bianca breaks through her own body image barriers in the short film 'Reflect.'

disney ballet short film body image
Tetiana Nekrasova/Canva

Disney's "Reflect" shares the story of a ballerina who learns to see herself clearly.

Disney is known for making big statements with small films, and one of the newest shorts from Disney Animation Studios says a whole lot in just 2 1/2 minutes.

The latest episode in Disney's Short Circuit Experimental Films series, "Reflect," takes on the topic of body image and body positivity through the eyes of a plus-size ballerina named Bianca. The journey she takes in the film is familiar to many, and different people may see themselves in each stage of it. (Spoiler alerts incoming.)

The short opens with Bianca dancing alone in a ballet studio, joyfully practicing her moves with her head held high and her face beaming. But as soon as the other students and the instructor enter the room, Bianca wilts, becoming self-conscious and unsure of herself. She approaches the mirror with the other girls, but she keeps her head down and avoids looking at her reflection.


Bianca doesn't say a word throughout the entire film. In fact, the only words spoken in the entire short are the ballet instructor naming the dance moves for the girls to practice and her saying to Bianca, "Tight tummy, long neck," as she walks by her.

When Bianca finally looks at her reflection, she places her hand on her stomach and suddenly everything goes dark. The mirror, now black before her, starts to crack and break into shards, then morph into a multilegged creature hovering ominously over her. She tries to escape by turning away and covering her eyes.

When she opens her eyes, all she can see is darkness and her own reflection in hundreds of mirrors that surround her. Those, too, start to crack and break apart. Everywhere she turns, she sees more and more of her own reflection in the broken pieces of glass.

Finally, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. She points her toe and the music shifts. As she starts to dance, twirling in a beautiful pirouette, the mirror shards in front of her light up and then shatter into nothingness. She continues to dance with greater and greater confidence, realizing she has control of the mirrors and can shatter them at will.

Once that realization dawns on her, she leaps through the broken shards and lands back in the ballet studio with the other students. Practicing a plié at the barre, she smiles at her own reflection, no longer afraid to look in the mirror.

The beauty in the message of this film is that Bianca finds body positivity in using her body for what she loves. In the end, it's not what her body looks like, but what it can do that shapes how she feels about it.

Director Hillary Bradfield, who also worked on Disney's "Encanto" and "Frozen II," shared commentary at the beginning of the episode.

"I feel like I’m a very body-positive person in principle," she said. "But when it’s on a personal level, it’s a lot harder to be body positive…When people watch the short, I hope they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look and feel OK about the tough parts of the journey."

People's reactions to the film have been largely positive, with some people sharing their own struggles with societal reactions to the size of their bodies.

Others have shared that, while having a plus-size lead character is needed representation, they wished it could be in a story that's not focused on her body.

But body image is something many people struggle with, even if they don't live in a larger body, so the appeal of the story is more universal than it may first appear. It's also inspiring, no matter who you are, to see a character go through a transformative experience and come out triumphant on the other side.

As Bradfield said, "Maybe sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place, and that just makes the good place that much more beautiful."

Indeed it does. Watch "Reflect" on Disney+ (Episode 6 in Season 2 of Short Circuit Experimental Films).


True

The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

Celine Dion spoke directly to her fans on social media.

Celine Dion has shared the devastating news that she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome.

In an emotional video to her fans, the 54-year-old French-Canadian singer apologized for taking so long to reach out and explained that her health struggles have been difficult to talk about.

"As you know, I have always been an open book, and I wasn't ready to say anything before. But I'm ready now."

Keep ReadingShow less

Trevor Noah says goodbye in his last episode of "The Daily Show."

Trevor Noah, who has spent the past seven years hosting "The Daily Show," has officially said goodbye to his late-night fans. While he could have chosen any note to leave on, he made his final words an emotional tribute to the Black women who have influenced him.

Since he took over the spot from Jon Stewart, Noah has made the show his own with a blend of quick-witted comedy and thoughtful commentary. Noah had big shoes to fill, but to his credit, he didn't try to cram his feet into them. He simply brought his own shoes and placed them right next to Stewart's, offering his own style of comedy and unique perspectives on the world night after night. Even in his "Between the Scenes" segments, where he chatted with the audience during commercial breaks, Noah frequently added insightful context to current issues.

In his final monologue, he credits those insights to his Black women mentors, from his own mother and grandmother to thought leaders he has had on his show to Black women in general. And it's quite telling that he managed to keep it together in his final show, right up until the point when he talked about these women.

Keep ReadingShow less

Tenacious D performs at the Rock in Pott festival.

The medley that closes out the second side of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album is one of the most impressive displays of musicianship in the band’s storied career. It also provided the perfect send-off before the band’s official breakup months later, ending with the lyrics, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

At first, the medley was just a clever way for the band to use a handful of half-finished tunes, but when it came together it was a rousing, grandiose affair.

Arranged by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the medley weaves together five songs written by McCartney, "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight” and "The End," and three by John Lennon, “Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

Fifteen seconds after the medley and the album’s conclusion, there is a surprise treat, McCartney’s 22-second “Her Majesty,” which wound up on the record as an accident.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

The truncated version of the medley was also a wonderful tribute to the incredible work the Beatles did 53 years ago.

Warning: This video contains NSFW language.

Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser for Variety's "Actors on Actors."

There are few actors in this world as universally loved as Brendan Fraser and Adam Sandler. So when the two sign on to interview one another, you can bet that people are going to be thrilled.

During one of Variety's “Actors on Actors” segments, the two swapped stories of being in the entertainment business—from the movie “Airheads," which they both starred in, to more recent projects like Sandler’s “Hustle” and Fraser’s “The Whale.”

It’s clear that these two respect and admire each other’s work. Sandler applauded Fraser’s career-long stride of making bold and interesting choices, and especially commended him for his starring role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which has been hailed as a major comeback for the “Mummy” franchise star.
Keep ReadingShow less