Disney and Barneys are defending the old character's new "lighthearted" look

Courtesy Barney’s

A makeover for Minnie Mouse?

Yes, and her new look — as a bone-thin supermodel for a Barneys New York holiday window display (see the image
) — is not sitting too well with some body-image experts, models and actresses like Virginia Madsen and True Blood‘s Kristin Bauer.

“The issue of body image is always prevalent and should be considered,” Ragen Chastain, a positive body image blogger and Los Angeles dance teacher, tells New York’s Daily News. Chastain launched a petition movement on change.org calling for the Madison Avenue department store to remove the image of Minnie in a ruffled Lavin mini dress, opera gloves and stilettos from its holiday display, due to premiere Nov. 14 — four days before the famous mouse’s 84th birthday.

“The message is if your body doesn’t fit into a designer dress, drastically change your body. Not, let’s insist on a designer that’s talented enough to make a dress that fits you,” insists Chastain. “That’s a dangerous message to send girls, ‘Minnie Mouse doesn’t fit into a high-fashion dress so we changed Minnie Mouse, not the high-fashion dress.'”

In a joint statement to the newspaper, Disney and Barneys defend their skinny Minnie.

“We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a lighthearted holiday project in order to draw media attention to themselves,” the statement reads.

“They have deliberately ignored previously released information clearly stating this promotion is a three-minute ‘moving art’ video featuring traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence set in Paris where she briefly walks the runway as a model and then happily awakens as her normal self (above) wearing the very same designer dress from the fashion show.”

But not everyone is satisfied. “To be honest,” Wilhelmina Models’ plus-size star Robyn Lawley tells the News, “I’ve always found Minnie fine as she was.” Tell us: Do you think the skinny Minnie is inappropriate? Or is the situation being blow out of proportion?

–Stephen M. Silverman