Disney continues to bring a diverse group of strong, independent women to their modern movies. But, it appears that for every step forward, the media giant takes two or three steps back.
Jasmine, Mulan, and Pocahontas have been a part of the official princess line-up for decades, and for a long time, represented a small and incomplete group of minorities. Disney finally debuted their first black princess, Princess Tiana, in “The Princess and the Frog” in 2009.
Being the first black princess after years of seeing dozens of white princesses, Tiana became an important figure for countless women and girls.
These princesses, along with other fan-favorites like Cinderella, Moana, and Rapunzel, are featured in a sleepover scene in the upcoming movie, “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” Vanellope, a main character from the first “Wreck-It Ralph” from 2012, orders the princesses to trade their formal gowns for more comfortable pajamas.
Seeing a cast of princesses in sweatpants, relaxing at home and having a good time is a refreshing site to see – considering this is the first time we’ve seen more of them in a casual setting, sans makeup and dresses.
Tiana decides to take her hair down. In the trailer people can see her hair is curly – and some people are thrilled, even emotional about a black princess embracing her natural hair:
TIANA HAS NATURAL HAIR IN THIS I ACTUALLY STARTED TEARING UP pic.twitter.com/tMAeA3ot0f
— dy (@delicateloves) August 9, 2018
LOOK AT PRINCESS TIANA'S NATURAL HAIR. OK DISNEY. YOU DOIN SOMETHING RIGHT. https://t.co/xCWLS2F9DT
— Jaduh (@jadanotjaduh) August 11, 2018
But, not everyone is impressed. People claim she has been whitewashed, and appears to be light-skinned or biracial:
Some are claiming animators did the same thing to Pocahontas, stripping her of her Native American heritage, and making her look Caucasian.
Disney you ain’t slick Tiana went from full black to half black real quick and Pocahontas went from Native American to a white person with a tan pic.twitter.com/UQrEchQsRp
— ella (@ella56821103) August 10, 2018
Some believe Tiana appears to have lighter skin, has been given a smaller nose, and a butchered attempt at natural hair.
One user said the curls are anything but natural, instead a medium brown dye, and styled:
She also pointed out that Tiana is the one and only princess in the scene that has had her hair changed.
That hair doesn't look natural at all. It looks blondish, dyed, & styled. Her hair should be black. She's the ONLY princess who had her hair altered from the original version which, major skin tone and feature changes aside, is very concerning. She looks biracial now. #tiana? pic.twitter.com/DaakM54ifP
— In The Webz (@BBF8droid) August 16, 2018
The white washing is real pic.twitter.com/1pke8BsKBu
— Melissa Morrison (@mocha123xyz) August 11, 2018
Tiana and Pocahontas are almost unrecognizable to some:
When they posted it, it took me a while to figure out who they were supposed to be. Smh
— Chantel Riley (@chantel_riley) August 14, 2018
People are furious, and not holding anything back:
Tiana was voiced by Anika Noni Rose in “The Princess and the Frog” and again in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
She has appeared in movies such as “Dreamgirls” and “For Colored Girls.” Many people believe Tiana resembled a young version of Rose, and now with the modified European facial features, no longer does.
How did Tiana go from looking like a teen Anika Noni Rose to Zendaya?
— African Proverb (@johnalynn) August 14, 2018
They are lighter with more European features. Whitewashing is exactly what it is.
— Globetrekker203 (@Globetrekker203) August 14, 2018
Where those excuses at now? …
— Kya-ken Art (@Kyaken22) August 14, 2018
Some want to embrace the natural curls, and cannot because of the changed facial features, and whitewashed complexion:
Others insist that the curls need some modification, including a darker color and a less stylized look.
@DisneyPixar Natural hair is beautiful but when you change physical features, such as the color of the skin and nose, there is a problem. Disney is indirectly stating that something is work with African features and that is WRONG !!!
— ♥️Love Effortlessly (@estJanuary23) August 16, 2018
I know they didn’t give Princess Tiana medium brown brazilian curly bundles and a medium brown skin tone to match pic.twitter.com/clhDdmxJpz
— SASHA (@STlLLSASHA) August 10, 2018
Disney hasn’t commented on or addressed any of these concerns. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is set to debut in theaters on November 21.