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Disney's 'skinny princesses' a bad example - Tamzin

TV star Tamzin Outhwaite has criticised movie giant Disney for "setting a dangerous example" to young, impressionable girls with its skinny princesses.

The 43-year-old New Tricks actress, who rose to fame in East-Enders, said it worried her that most women in showbusiness were constantly dieting.

Outhwaite, the mother of two girls aged five and one, hit out at Disney for the way it depicts its heroines, saying anxiety about body shape begins early.

She told the Radio Times: "I know actors who actually say 'eating is cheating', and it worries me. I don't understand why you need to be skinny to play any character unless it specifically says in the script that she's a model or dying of consumption.

"I'm too old to play a model, so I've stopped worrying about it, which makes me feel much freer. But it's weird that we're living in an age where most women - especially those in the public eye - are on a continuous diet."

Adding that obsession with looks can start in early childhood, she said: "Look at all those Disney princesses with their big heads and tiny waists, all waiting to be rescued by men. That's not the kind of role model I want for my girls."

Disney came in for criticism for perpetuating an unrealistic depiction of women in last year's animated film Frozen.

stereotypes

The smash hit movie, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen, was hailed as progressive for aspects of its storyline.

But its doe-eyed and skinny central princess character continued the look of earlier stereotypes.

The red-headed princess in Brave, released by Disney in 2012, had a more normal appearance and loved honing her skills as an archer and swordfighter, but Disney was later criticised when the Scottish heroine was given a slimmed down makeover for a new toy line.

Outhwaite said she hoped her New Tricks character, DCI Sasha Miller, was a realistic portrayal of women in the workplace after several depictions of females as either extremely tough or weak.

"We're very used to seeing female bosses on the telly," she said. "Prime Suspect really kicked that off back in the 90s. But there has been a tendency to see women as either ballbreakers or victims, and there are lots of degrees in between.

"I'm not trying to make Sasha a ballbreaker. I'm trying to make it OK for her to be vulnerable, for her not to have all the answers. She's feeling her way and so am I."

hnews@herald.ie


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