What are ‘Disney knees’? Gen Z creators are buzzing about this phenomenon: ‘Why is this so accurate’

Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Olivia Rodrigo… Aside from each establishing themselves as teen actresses turned full-fledged pop stars, what do they all have in common? Disney knees.

On Sept. 21, Snuber (@snuberrr), a creator on TikTok, shared the photo she often shows people when asked if she thinks she’s pretty. A recent response to the photograph, however, threw her for a loop.

“Whenever someone would be like, ‘Oh, do you think you’re pretty?’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m pretty. Look at this picture.’ And I was obsessed with it for the longest time,” she said. “Until they other day: I showed it to someone and they were like, ‘Oh, I can tell that you grew up with OG Disney Channel because you literally have ‘Disney knees’ in your graduation pictures.”

“Why would you say that to me?” Snuber asked.

Several creators came to Snuber’s defense in her comment section, with many calling out the practicality of the Disney knees in this situation.

“Okay but like without the Disney knees you’d be flashing the camera so I think it’s cute and practical,” @pollywogqueen wrote in response to the video.

“You’re wearing a dress, what does she expect you to do. Any other position would be too complicated,” @lilygc1 added.

“Disney knees are cute and iconic,” @avivashulman also replied.

What are ‘Disney knees?’ anyway?

The long-standing phenomenon received renewed interest following Olivia Rodrigo’s MTV Video Music Awards performance earlier this month, during which she took the stage for a medley of her tracks “vampire” and “get him back.”

Fans couldn’t help but notice that the 20-year-old singer-songwriter resorted to her “Disney knees” — that is, leaning forward and bending your knees inward while passionately belting and rocking out to your song. This supposedly textbook Disney star stance was commonly attributed to the girls, like Rodrigo, who previously starred on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which identified as pop-rock musically.

A quintessential example of “Disney knees” is when then-newcomer Demi Lovato performed “This is Me” in the final act of 2008’s Camp Rock, in which she starred alongside the Jonas Brothers. Lovato’s character, Mitchie, is finally given the opportunity to take the stage during the camp’s Final Jam, when Shane (played by Joe Jonas), finally realizes hers is the voice he’d been looking for.

Former Disney stars have talked at length about various aspects of the company, as well as the rigorous schedules they kept and the ways in which they were forced to maintain their squeaky clean image.

On her Used to Be Young video series, Miley Cyrus recounted her schedule at just “12 or 13,” which started at 5:30 a.m. and consisted of about eight interviews and a photo shoot.

Joe Jonas revealed that he and his brothers, Nick and Kevin Jonas, went through media training to develop their ability to divert attention from subjects that weren’t supposed to be talked about.

Olivia Rodrigo previously spoke about her “not fun” experience at 14: “I just remember being 14 years old and being like, ‘I literally have no idea who I am,” she told GQ. “I don’t know what my personal style is. I don’t know what I like. I don’t know who my true friends are. How am I expected to cultivate an image?'”

With this in mind, the prominence of the “Disney knees” among these stars begins to make more sense. Their overlapping experiences of having identity crises and feeling a lack of control could also speak to the formulaic training they received, such as how to conduct themselves onstage, while on the path to Disney superstardom.

Still, the “Disney knees” memes and parody videos continue to roll in.

“Why is this so accurate,” @t1ffanygarcia wrote in response to Omimiko’s viral video that recalls Disney Channel fashion during the 2000s and the signature stance.

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