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In the wake of Disney’s latest gem: Zootopia making it to theaters, what has come to my attention is the wonderful and fantastic display of intelligence and empathy by Shakira when it came to the character she voiced. Shakira, the pop singer, voiced Gazelle, a pop singer gazelle, in the movie and she was excited about it form the get-go. “They decided to tell me about Gazelle and what she was like and her personality, the things that she stood for,” Shakira said to People. “I just felt that I needed identification with it, and I said to them, ‘Listen, this is me. Gazelle is me,” Shakira said, joking that the told Disney, “‘I’m in. You can hire me now if you want!’” Now, Disney has had a terrible if not lazy habit of making their princesses look like fast-food straws and their princes to be the handsome knights in shining armor. That doesn’t work anymore today. Because of the combination of today’s advanced media where advertising and images are now everywhere and the fact that Disney’s dynamic success has led them to being a worldwide influence, it means that the movies they make and the examples they set have widespread ripple effects. Two generations, depending on when families conceived their children, have now have grown up on Disney since Walt died in 1966. Disney has exponentially grown since then and the name is arguably the biggest brand in the world. They are aware of this and have changed their basic formula to help the next generation. Just the other day, I was explaining to my close friend Madeline that Frozen chose to make the “prince” the bad guy because they wanted the youth of today to realize that you don’t marry someone you just met even if he is a prince. Because even a prince can be the bad guy. That’s one way Disney has helped educate young girls, and Shakira just helped them with another. Gazelle was originally supposed to follow the stereotypical female superstar figure of Disney. The lovely animal beauty queen was going to stick-thin and if real, malnourished by our standards. Shakira revealed that strongly requested her Zootopia character be alterd and made more voluptuous. “I asked them to give her a little… to give her bigger hips,” Shakira said to People in her latest interview. “And I said to the Zootopia director, ‘Come on, guys, give her some meat!’ And they did.” This amazing woman has shown her incredible strength after six years of therapy relating to body image. In 2010, Shakira revealed to Fabulous magazine that she struggled with body image in previous years and that she even wished that her seductive curves were thinner. To Fabulous magazine six years ago: “I wished I was taller, had longer legs, slimmer hips, a smaller bottom, even straighter hair,” Shakira said. “I am just like all women – we’re born to criticize ourselves.” There is no stereotype truer than that one. I’ve only met one woman who I would say was fully secure with her body and she was such an uppity, arrogant girl that it was quite unattractive to listen to her (especially when she said I was too ugly to date her, but that’s another story). I don’t think I can overstate just how excellent Shakira’s idea was; regardless of whether she was just trying to make the character more like her or if she had the foresight to see that Disney was about to make a horrendous mistake. Considering this movie has been compared to The Lion King, there is little doubt that it will become a huge hit. The little girls of this era are going to identify with the animals; especially Officer Hopps and I can just see any girl who wants to be the next star singer (regardless of genre) look at Gazelle and want to emulate the character. So imagine the girls who are naturally heavy due to genetics or even girls who are already thin seeing a thinner Gazelle. It’s not irrational or a leap to think that a stick figure would affect the children and possibly cause body dysmorphia. Especially when we already have a cultural problem with it. The first girl I ever fell in love in with had a body image problem and I once made an insensitive joke. My brainless and insensitive jerk moment almost cost me her friendship; not to mention I really hurt her. Which in turn hurt me because I, like anyone else should, feel painful guilt when I hurt the people I love. I felt like the biggest hee-hawer ever born. Maybe some shallow tool would think she was fat, but I still think she’s the most beautiful girl in the world and her smile melts me like ice cream in the summer sun. She won’t think that and I hope today it’s because of modesty. Because she isn’t fat and she isn’t undesirable by any means. But that’s the problem. We have millions of women who dread going to the mirror and looking at themselves. We have millions of women seeing billboards, swimsuit catalogs and calendars, reality shows, fitness commercials etc. and it all revolves around sex appeal. Yeah that may be the way it is, but if I voiced my unedited comments about the topic, I’d have to rate this article R. It makes me and it should make any married man/father/brother or any man who possesses a soul angry. Dysmorphia has become an epidemic so common that a woman as exotic and eye-poppingly sexy as Shakira has been in therapy since the turn of the decade. Even the role models of beauty are questioning themselves. “Therapy has helped me so much in every aspect of my life from body image to relationships,” Shakira said. “It’s about understanding myself – sometimes I’ll speak to my therapist for an hour a day, it has become my routine.” That’s a tragedy there and I won’t stand for it anymore in my own personal life. Seeing my female friends or girls I have affection for look down upon themselves. Not when I look at them with love, acceptance, and depending upon the girl, I wolf whistle. Or my jaw hits the floor and I have to go to the hospital for an X-ray. I have routinely said to my friends when texting them to shut up when they say they are unattractive. Shut up and get some contact lenses because you aren’t seeing correctly. Whereas I’ve had LASIK and I know what I’m seeing. What I also see is Shakira’s character not causing body dysmorphia or women to starve themselves to the point of malnourishment. Not when they have the Colombian beauty’s Gazelle counterpart with sashaying hips that don’t lie and a butt that would make a priest give up his vow of celibacy and throw in the towel. And all the while, she still has a reasonably thin and healthy body. Too much about the world is focused on beauty and not personality. A girl (call her Carmen) I’ve communicated with on Facebook showed off her progress over the last few years. I saw the before and after photos on her post. She evidently lost weight and she was celebrating becoming better looking. But what I noticed was even when she was “heavy” she had, in my opinion, a model shape. She is a gorgeous brunette whose smile could light up the room from a photograph, not just in person. I commented and told her so; told her that I was happier that she was healthier, but that she had always been beautiful. I think it made her smile since she liked the comment as well as her mom plus two friends. That’s another thing that compounds the issue of body image is that there is a lot of good intentions behind some of these advertisements especially the exercise ones. A lot of people do need to address their bodies; especially a massive portion of the city of Houston, America’s obesity capital. Obesity is a major problem and the commercials for cardio workouts do help convince people to lay off the fatty grease and eat more fresh fruit. There needs to be an addressment worldwide to multiple diets. There is a difference between curvy and sexy to being an amorphous, unhealthy and unattractive blob. While Carmen lost weight, became healthier, and perhaps added years to her life, she was never a blob. Other women like her could misunderstand that and think they need to be a size zero or less before they are desirable. There are a lot of women who are naturally muscular or a tensy bit bigger. When they start to feel ashamed of who they are, these exercise ads are no longer beneficial. People, not everyone is meant to look like Gisele Bundchen or Cindy Crawford. Even they aren’t perfect by any means because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve argued with my friends that Kirsten Dunst is gorgeous and that Beyonce’s legs are proof there is a God (take note Houston! She’s one of you, so be like her). Some of my friends disagree. I even knew a guy who thought every woman, who wasn’t overly obese, was uglier than the Evil Queen from Snow White when she was in hag form. Again ladies, I repeat. To him, if you weren’t bordering on 300, he found you ugly. So you can’t win them all no matter how many calories you burn. Thank Shakira for making sure her character won’t be promoting the awful stereotype that stick equals beauty because it doesn’t. It’s idiotic blasphemy. As a fan of Disney and a stockholder, it pleases me to see that they aren’t making the problem that is body dismorphia worse, but giving girls with that have a bigger lower half an iconic character to relate to and feel comfortable because if she can be a pop star, they can smile at the mirror. Thank you Inquistr for the quotes and a few paragraphs which I paraphrased to help with my piece.

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