Disney Debuts 1st Plus-Size Heroine in Short Film ‘Reflect'

“When people watch the short, I hope they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look," the director said

The latest original addition to season two of “Short Circuit Experimental Films” from Walt Disney Animation Studios is Reflect, a story where Bianca is a ballet dancer who overcomes doubt and fear by channeling her inner strength, grace and power.

Disney's new short film "Reflect" promotes body positivity and a healthy self-image through the main character, Bianca, its first plus-sized heroine.

The film started streaming on Disney+ Sept. 14 and is Episode Seven of Season Two in Short Circuit, a series on experimental films. In the opening scene, Bianca is in an empty dance studio happily and confidently practicing by herself before class starts and others walk into the room. She then becomes uncomfortable because she's the only one who's plus-sized and her instructor's feedback of "tight tummy, long neck" makes the room disappear until it's only Bianca in front of a broken mirror of hundreds of reflections of herself.

The short was introduced by its director, Hillary Bradfield, a Disney Animation story artist who’s behind “Frozen 2 and “Encanto." She said she wanted to tell this story because, "I feel like I’m a very body positive person in principle. But when it’s on a personal level, it’s a lot harder to be body positive."

Bradfield said she specifically chose the setting of a dance studio because mirrors are required to master the movements and she wanted Bianca somewhere "she has to look at herself and she doesn’t want to."

The title "Reflect" comes from Bianca seeing her reflection in the mirrors and reconciling how she looks with how she feels. While surrounded by the broken mirrors, Bianca is initially scared and self-conscious about how she looks.

To comfort herself, she starts dancing and suddenly the broken mirrors start to move with her, forming shapes and turning into different colors. Bianca realizes that moving just as she is controls the formerly broken glass. This silent pep talk ends with her breaking through the mirror altogether and reentering the class with her peers full of confidence.

Bradfield said, "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."

She acknowledged that it is not a linear path, but one of progression, explaining, "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."

Disney fanatics of all ages have been sharing their responses to the short film on social media.

"This is very encouraging and I am glad Disney decided to include a 'plus-sized' heroine," one person tweeted.

Another wrote, "GOOD! I hope that one day they have a person using a wheelchair be a superhero."

"It’s about time," one fan wrote. "Love that she’s doing ballet. Plus size kids are often too self conscious for that."

But not everyone was thrilled with the news.

One person tweeted, "'disney reveals first ever plus sized heroine' yeah in a 15 min short film only available on streaming. put the fat girl on theatre screens for 2 hours, cowards."

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:

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