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When Minnie Mouse Wore Pants

Cartoonist and cartoon historian, Koriander seeks to preserve the magic of animation.


Polka-Dots, Checks, and Stripes All Together

January 25, 2022, a day that will go down in history as the day Minnie Mouse's pantsuit "shut down" the internet.

It all started with Disneyland Paris getting ready to celebrate their 30th anniversary. In a forward-thinking gesture, the Disney theme park unveiled Minnie in a muted, black and navy-blue pantsuit, complete with black polka-dots, stripes, and little bows on the pockets. The idea was to give Minnie a modern, yet temporary new look in celebration of the anniversary event and in honor of Women's History Month, which the park had planned to celebrate with the new design for that following March.

The understated yet still very girlish design was the brainchild of British fashion designer Stella McCartney, who said she envisioned the women's tuxedo in responsibly sourced fabrics. She chose the same black and blue colors that Minnie had been wearing exclusively for Disneyland Paris for years.

And if you watched Fox News at any time that week, you would have known that not everyone was thrilled with Minnie's fashionable yet oddly conservative and still temporary look.

On January 26, 2022, Candace Owens, who usually wears pantsuits, lamented that a certain culture was "making it uncomfortable" for longtime Disney fans by "making Minnie masculine" despite Minnie still sporting stereotypically girlish bows all over the new outfit and wearing baby pink blush and her usual black mascara. In a strange tirade, she even accused Minnie Mouse—a female mouse cartoon character who is rarely seen without at least one bow—of existing as a "liberal diversion tactic" meant to "distract" Disney lovers from real world issues.

Perhaps this would be less laughable if not for the fact that Minnie Mouse once attended a ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Ronald Reagan library, but Owens's strange accusations would embolden conservative misogyny across Twitter, when fans of Fox News's mock news program would echo similar statements, prompting something of a war of words across social media.

In the same segment, Tucker Carlson lamented an anti-LBGTQIA statement by likening Minnie's pantsuit to the removal of the Green M&M's high heels and bare legs, claiming falsely that cartoon characters will soon be "unappealing" and "androgynous" referring to an imagined loss of sexuality and sexual appeal in traditionally female cartoon characters marketed to children.

Jesse Watters cried out "Why are they doing this?" and "They're bored out of their minds!" Claiming falsely that honoring Disneyland Paris's 30th anniversary and Women's History Month was a desperate act of "boredom" and not the kind P.R. gesture it was intended to be.

But more laughable than the idea that Minnie Mouse wearing pants is part of a magical brainwashing experiment, is the fact that Minnie Mouse wearing pants ... is anything new from the Disney Company.

If anything, Minnie Mouse trading in her colorful skirts for a pair of pants is just a tale as old as time.

For decades before her January 2022 special event makeover, Minnie had been seen in pants on books about her garden, on action figures, and on many different Minnie mascot costumes across most of the Disney parks. Minnie for decades has worn pants on stickers, cassette tapes, albums, women's pants, stationary, and even on embroidered patches for children's clothes.

And that's not even counting the cartoons.


Disney's Totally Minnie

One of the largest examples of Minnie embracing pants can be seen in the February 25, 1988, television special, Disney's Totally Minnie.

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In the star-studded event that also featured Robert Carradine, Suzanne Somers, Vanna White, and Elton John, Minnie is seen running around on a real-life set in a yellow polo shirt, a pink sweater, and bright blue jeans.

In the special, Minnie runs The Minnie Mouse Center For The Totally Un-Hip, a mock-educational facility meant to train students in dance, exercise, fashion, and in the art of acting cool, so it's only natural that being the coolest little lady on the Disney lot, Minnie was seen crossing her legs in electric blue jeans with a while belt and purple sneakers, a blend of neon and pastel colors fit for the late 80s.


Daisy Visits, Or Rather Bothers Minnie

House of Mouse was one part homage to the old Mickey Mouse shorts of the 40s and 50s and one part "big kids" show. With slightly edgier humor and well-timed slapstick, the nightclub themed variety show aired many shorts that have endured for decades as the best of the Mickey and Friends line.

It was a sequel to Mickey Mouse Works and quite often updated the previous show's line of shorts. This was done by swapping out the original 1999 title cards or by adding a few seconds of animation.

Because of the way these shorts aired between the two shows, it's a little hard to pin down exactly when viewers would have next seen Minnie Mouse in pants, since some ABC markets and cable packages that got the now defunct Toon Disney channel late would air episodes out of order.

Between House of Mouse and Mickey's Mouse Works, Minnie would occasionally be spotted in shorts, skorts (skirt/short hybrid pants that were popular during the Y2K era), and in Minnie Visits Daisy, an orange prisoner's jumpsuit for a brief period.

But the best remembered short involving Minnie in pants is likely Daisy Visits Minnie/Daisy Bothers Minnie, which aired on June 19, 1999.

In the short, Minnie sits on her couch with Pinocchio's Figaro in pink pajamas, trying to indulge in a little self-care. This plan is ruined when Daisy arrives to use her bathroom, eat her food, and flip through her cable, and then it's further ruined when an escaped lion from the zoo starts to terrorize Minnie around the kitchen.

What makes this cartoon so iconic isn't just the silly humor, but the sight of Minnie fighting the lion by unraveling her pink bow and using it as whip, keeping the beast at bay while jumping around in pink pajama pants.


Mickey's Mousekersize

A spin-off of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Mickey's Mouskersize consisted of 10 tiny shorts that originally aired at a Disney Live! stage show in 2010 before its official debut on Valentine's Day in 2011.

Focused on getting toddlers to get up and exercise while also teaching tots about sports and teamwork, Gen Z was introduced to Minnie wearing shorts and soft-pink yoga pants in the first two CGI cartoons.

Joining Mickey in the second short, Minnie stretches and crawls in her baby pink shirt and in a slightly darker shade of pink pants, trying to find Figaro while sneaking in a variety of exercises and songs into her short quest.

This sporty look must have been a hit with the Disney Junior crowd, because it wasn't long before this same look found its way into coloring books and into the toy aisles, quietly and without fanfare.

Minnie Mouse wearing pants has been a normal sight for Gen X, Xennial, Millennial, Gen Z and Gen Alpha eyes for years and has never implicated a change in gender for the consistently cis-female rodent.

Gendering clothes is as outdated a pastime as Pet Rock.

© 2022 Koriander Bullard

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