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Molly Longest / Her Campus

What Elastigirl’s Booty Reveals About Female Body Standards

Yes, I went there. Helen Parr is dummy thicc, and we all know it. Guys, gals, and non-binary pals alike have been dreaming about Pixar’s hottest mom since 2004.

Well, that’s today’s consensus, at least. It’s easy to view the past through the lens of today, and looking back, we kinda wonder why Pixar would sexualize a maternal character like that. What if I told you, though, that Helen Parr’s mom bod wasn’t always considered attractive?

Hear me out. Do you remember that scene about an hour into The Incredibles when Elastigirl gets trapped in all those doors in Syndrome's lair? There’s this moment right before then that many of us may remember (shown in this spicy gif): Helen checks herself out in the mirror (relatable), takes a good look at the size of her booty, and sighs.

While preparing to write this article, I’ve asked multiple people what they thought of that scene. (Not in a weird way, calm down.) A number of my friends simply remember Elastigirl checking herself out—they couldn’t see how anyone could be disappointed with having a booty like hers. On the other hand, others (including myself) interpreted her little sigh as an expression of her own frustration with her figure. Helen’s butt is indeed quite large — perhaps she thought it was supposed to be smaller and that she had physically let herself go while focusing on her marriage and children.

So, the question remains: why did Pixar make Elastigirl’s booty so big? Did they intend to make her dummy hot, or did they mean to draw her as a moderately good-looking stressed-out mother of three?

To answer the questions presented here, we have to take a quick deep dive into the hot mess that was popular culture in 2004 — the year The Incredibles was released. In those ancient days, Jude Law was the sexiest man alive, girls wore pink miniskirts and hip-hugging jeans, and everyone owned a flip phone. The female body standard of the day was embodied by stars such as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Jennifer Aniston: big eyes, a slim build, medium breasts, and — surprise! — a small rear end. 

As you may have noticed, this body type is not displayed by our friend Mrs. Helen Parr. In fact, this body type is more accurately represented by another adult female character in The Incredibles: Mirage. 

Mirage is meant to fill the “Other Woman'' trope in The Incredibles — in English class, we’d call her Elastigirl’s foil. Though there is no explicit amorous relationship between Mirage and Bob Parr (this is a kid’s movie, for goodness sake!), it is heavily implied that Mr. Incredible is attracted to Mirage’s mysterious background, flirtatious comments and sultry voice. Arguably, she is far more sexualized than Helen Parr: She wears a low-cut, form-fitting dress with a slit up the leg and HEELS. She’s the “sexy secretary” archetype; her character was literally designed to be hot. And yet, to be terribly blunt, she doesn’t possess the dumptruck booty that makes Helen Parr famous today.

What does this tell us? In 2004, Mirage’s body type was the standard of female beauty: to put it frankly, Mirage was hot. Pixar gave Elastigirl her figure to distinguish her from Mirage and signal her older womanhood — not to make her more attractive. She is the first and primary example of the Pixar “mom bod” that populates later movies (Onward, Toy Story 3, Inside Out, even Mama Imelda in Coco!): broad shoulders, a tiny little waist, and an absolute Tonka truck of a rear end.

Fast forward to 2018: the year Incredibles 2 was released. Helen Parr once again takes the big screen, and this time, Pixar’s take on her seems different: she and her booty take center stage. (For example, this gif: I mean, come on Pixar. You know what you’re doing.) She definitely hasn’t “let herself go” this time around. What changed between movies 1 and 2?

The answer: beauty standards changed with the tide of culture. Out went the Britney Spearses and Lindsay Lohans of the world, and in came the Kim Kardashians and Nicki Minajes. Whether real or fake, the dumptruck booty is in, and all over social media, too. And thus, Helen Parr went from a regular mom to a hot mom.

So why are we talking about this? (Besides the fact that it’s funny to write the word “booty” multiple times in a Her Campus article.)  Well, as the changing views of Elastigirl’s body suggest, body types can go in and out of style, just like clothes, music and graphic design. But as you hopefully know, there’s something deeply problematic about this. It’s easy to follow fashion trends by going out and buying a new jacket or pair of shoes. But people can’t just buy a new body! (Unless you’re Kylie Jenner, apparently.) Beauty standards cause many people to feel like they have to look a certain way to be attractive. And when those standards change, people may feel even more pressured to conform to something that changes arbitrarily and is ultimately meaningless.

To conclude, then, I present to you this thought. Helen Parr, though she is a fictional character, was and is beautiful. Perhaps she would disagree with that assessment, but it is true. Why? Because beauty is not determined by trends, but by a person’s heart. Helen Parr is classy, confident, and capable. She’ll put her life on the line for those she loves. Plus, she has superpowers (!) and can ride a motorcycle (!!). Now THAT is one beautiful woman.

Senior Integrated Marketing Communications major and Vocal Performance minor. Dreamer of dreams, memer of memes. Follow me on Instagram @jillynoelle!
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