Wide waists and double chins are some of the physical attributes that society has, for generations, demeaned and scorned. We’ve been conditioned to think that Disney princesses and the It Girls are the standard of beauty. However, this “norm” has caused most, if not all, young girls and young women to grow up unhappy and insecure. Crystal Walter, a digital portrait artist behind the controversially popular Instagram account Neoqlassic Art, was one of those little girls.
Crystal Walter creates unapologetic portraits of fat princesses and other iconic slim characters like Jessica Rabbit. Her body positive art has attracted both praise and contempt from the world. Many, who’ve been searching for something they can relate to, are overjoyed to finally be artistically represented. However, there are still those who insist on raining on other people’s parades. So it’s a good thing that Crystal’s always got an umbrella of positivity to block out their negativity!
Crystal Walter redraws slim icons like Disney Princesses with plus-size bodies
Even though her art works celebrating fat bodies are widely admired, others are criticizing Crystal. Instead of perceiving her work in a positive light, her critics have instead hurled accusations against her, saying that she is merely “glorifying obesity” and endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle. This of course, is not what Crystal wants to convey through her work. In fact, the only thing she wants to do give plus-sized women proper and beautiful representation. This mission of hers stems from the fact that she struggled to find a role model she could relate with in terms of body image during her younger years. In a statement, she said,
“Growing up I couldn’t find any positive fat role models in the media. Historically, fat people have been demonized, or used for comedic effect or to visibly show that a character is less intelligent than their slimmer, more cunning counterparts.”
“This is hideously damaging to a developing child, and like many others, it led to me despising my own body. I could not physically relate to the characters I loved, like the Disney princesses I’ve re-drawn.”
She chose to redraw Disney Princesses so big children can relate to their favorite characters better
Since there were no plus-sized role models for Crystal to look up to as a young girl, she found it hard to accept the way she looked. She often retells anecdotes of her struggle towards accepting and owning the body that she has on Instagram. In one post, she recalled how, at 11 or 12, she would constantly measure herself using a fabric measuring tape and get more and more upset because “the numbers looked too big”.
Later, when Crystal became a teenager, she developed unhealthy habits in her pursuit of “normal” body. She exercised way too much, fasted intermittently, or skipped eating altogether. But the weight loss was always just temporary. This cycle made Crystal utterly miserable, so she eventually decided to just stop trying to shrink herself for the sake of fitting in.
Her drawings of plus-size princesses have sparked a discussion among observers
“I’ve never told anyone to get more fat, or that being fat is more desirable than being thin. Simply that fat lives are equal, and just as worth living as any other.”
Every little girl adores the Disney princesses for their sparkly gowns, wide-eyed enthusiasm and magical lives. In other words, the fictional lives of the princesses are every little girl’s dream. But this is unhealthy and unattainable. Their appearances aren’t, in any way realistic at all which makes it hard for their young audience to fully relate to them. And that’s what Crystal hopes to change with her re-imagined illustrations.
“The way our culture is designed to constantly provide the means of gaining fat, while simultaneously living in crippling fear of the result, and shaming people who do get heavier.”
The princesses are re-drawn with fat bodies so people can see themselves in the pop culture characters
“It’s true that the Disney characters I draw were unrealistic, to begin with, in that their waists were all smaller than their heads,” the artist explained. “But the reason I draw them fat is not to make them ‘realistic’, it’s to see myself in them. To help other fat folks see themselves in them.”
However, even though she’s championing the plus-size body type, Crystal clarified that she is in no way, putting down thin bodies as well. In fact, she thinks that every body type should be accepted without prejudice! For Crystal, everyone deserves to be respected and accepted, no matter how big or small or capable they are. Overweight people are “just people – not people-in-waiting”, she said. They are not lesser beings for taking up more space and most certainly do not deserve to be made fun of or viewed “with fear, disgust, or pity”. After all, weren’t we all taught to never judge a book by its cover? Everyone’s got something to offer beyond their appearance!
She re-draws the plump-figured princesses to make them more relatable to plus-sized audiences
“Glorifying anything that is constantly shamed by the rest of the world is not the same as encouragement to be more of that thing. It’s just recognition that the thing does not make you a bad person, or any less of a human being. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Despite being attacked by naysayers, Crystal remains upbeat thanks to the positive reactions that her fat drawings get. A lot of her fans reach out to her, thanking for creating content that ‘finally’ represents them. “They show these drawings to their kids who may be on the big side,” Crystal shared. “And they love them as well.” The most common reasons of childhood bullying are prejudice against the child’s weight and size.
And the scarcity of positive representation in popular culture and media certainly don’t help the plight of the bullied overweight youth. So we can only imagine how comforting it is for kids to see their favorite Disney princesses with a similar figure.
She hopes to help change the attitude of society towards fat people through her unapologetic illustrations of bigger princesses
Despite her celebration of the fat body, Crystal is aware that obesity is a very real and very serious issue that needs to be addressed in a better way. Getting in shape is no walk in the park. In fact, it causes more stress to the person involved. So, she has come up with several suggestions that could possibly help improve the situation. According to Crystal, those who are currently going through the tough process of dealing with their weight problem need a special type of place:
“One that provides more nutritious options in places where there are none. One that encourages fun activity, and safe places to do those activities. One that’s closer to nature and is based on kindness. One that encourages bigger people to get out and live life, not to lose weight, but just to thrive as they are.”
Crystal is a part of the ever-growing art community that celebrates diversity and inclusivity
“When I was a kid, I would usually answer, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ with ‘An artist’. And if not that, then a rock star. I wen through a brief phase in 8th grade where I dressed in boys clothes and thought I could be a rapper, but didn’t we all? But through it all, being an artist of some sort of was the goal, and what do you know, I made it!”
“Find a cause that hits home for you, and something that people need, and work for that. If your subject inspires you, that will give you the fuel to keep going when you’re not yet receiving great feedback or monetary compensation. And never be afraid to ask for what you want, that’s a powerful tool that gets shamed out us early in life.”
The drawings drew criticism from skeptics
On the other hand, others loved the message behind Walter’s work
We certainly appreciate Crystal’s mission of giving plus-size youth proper representation. It’s so important for the vulnerable and impressionable to be treated with kindness. So if a drawing of their favorite princess with a plumper figure helps ease their anxiety and insecurity, then what’s not to love? What do you think of Crystal Walter’s unapologetic celebration of the bigger body? Tell us in the comment section below!