Disney princesses have almost always been exclusively white. Tiana, in 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, was the first coloured princess.
That’s 72 years of Disney without any change in colour scheme, if you know what I mean.
Sure, we got an Arab princess in Jasmine, an Asian princess in Mulan, Native American representation in Pocahontas, and Polynesian princess Moana, but no African American representation.
Plus, five racially diverse princesses do not balance out the historic lack of diversity seen in Disney animations over the years.
But that was the old Disney. We have officially entered the new Disney era. In this new age, remakes are the norm and diversity is a key focus.
When it was announced that Halle Bailey (different to Halle Berry) would be playing Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid remake the Internet was split between “this is amazing” and people using the #NotMyAriel. Those who prescribed to the second group of people don’t deserve my time, because honestly it’s ridiculous.
I’m more scandalised by the lack of songs in live-action Mulan than I am at Ariel’s change in skin tone.
Also, the entire point of a remake is to remake a movie to reflect changes in technology, social expectations and ways of thinking. We shouldn’t be surprised Disney is trying to shake things up- it’s necessary.
But Disney aren’t the only geniuses here, because the original mastermind behind Ariel’s new and improved live-action look is actually Princess Fiona. Yes, from Shrek.
Case in point:
Fiona definitely knew what she was doing when she booted Ariel off the beach during her honeymoon with Shrek. She not only got the mermaid away from her man but she did us all a solid. A symbolic out with the old and in with the new.
So thank you Fiona for showing Disney how it’s done. And thank you Disney for changing the game.