What do The Incredibles’ Elastigirl, Megara from Disney’s Hercules, the mom in Dexter’s Laboratory, and even Zootopia’s rabbit protagonist Judy Hopps have in common? That’s right—they’re all depicted with wide hips, a feature that animators commonly add to portray the fact that the characters aren’t kids or teens.
As summed up in a video by YouTube channel fullcomma, this aspect of cartoon character design is called ‘Hartman Hips’. It’s named after Butch Hartman, who isn’t the first to use the technique but frequently employs it.
It’s important for animators to differentiate sexually mature females from younger figures, so the characters’ shoulders are narrowed, their waists are cinched, and their hips—often a package deal with well-endowed rear behinds—are widened, creating a pear-like silhouette.
The reason bustlines are kept small is because boards and viewers might perceive augmenting breasts as a form of sexualization, and that’s not something producers of family-friendly animations want.
The stylistic differences denoting age have become such a standard in the industry, you’ll subconsciously rely on them to tell older characters from younger ones without having to hear their voices.