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Fans Say Disney Princesses Need Makeover

Critics Make Over Frozen's (Blond, Blue-Eyed) Disney Princesses

We're happy to present this post from our friends at Yahoo! Shine.

Disney Princesses are getting yet another makeover. In May, "Brave" heroine, Merida, was given a girly update on movie-related merchandise, sparking widespread backlash.

This time around, fans are making changes on their own, re-envisioning Anna and Elsa, the two sisters from Disney's upcoming animated feature "Frozen," well in advance of the movie's November release. That's because, in their eyes, the two new heroines conform too much to the entertainment giant's white-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed aesthetic.

The Tumblr This Could Have Been Frozen includes various ethnic reboots for the sisters including casting them as Mongolian, Tibetan, Japanese, and Inuit. Artist Rachel McGuffin tweaked the race of the movie's actual poster because as she writes, "I was feeling rather hopeless about Disney's whitewashing their past characters so I went ahead and racebent their future white characters." (Disney did not respond to Yahoo! Shine's request for comment at press time.) 

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More on this Disney debacle after the jump.

While the film is loosely based on "The Snow Queen," a fairy tale by Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson, the adaptation doesn't have to be set in Denmark—it is a fantasy, after all, and the blog points out that the characters in "Frozen" are a "mash up of different Scandinavian cultures" anyway.

One artist, identified as khiramisu, envisions them as "two fun-loving kids in New York City during the late 1930s. They are both first generation Jamaican American; their families moved to America around the same time and became intertwined ever since. Unlike a few of their family members, [they] love the snow, and their love of New York's wintery wonders somehow gets them mixed up with the Snow Queen and her cold-hearted cronies."

There are now 11 official Disney Princesses and Anna and Elsa are slated to be the 12th and 13th. Out of that group, nine are white, and five are blonde. Diversity is scarce among the group, and so is the range of body types.     

In May, outraged parents and fans of the movie "Brave" petitioned Disney to withdraw their skinnier makeover of Merida with mixed results: the company left the feisty heroine untouched on their princesses page, but the vamped up version still appeared on merchandise sold at Target.

It's curious that Disney doesn't break out of the Barbie box more frequently given how hungry fans are for diversity. Films such as "Mulan" and "The Princess and The Frog" may provoke some criticism for being culturally clunky, they also attract viewers who might otherwise dismiss them as "just another Disney Princess flick."

On This Could Have Been Frozen, an anonymous contributor writes, "I just wanted to say I'm really glad I found this blog. It really makes me happy that I'm not the only one who thinks there should be more Disney PoC [People of Color]. I always thought I was being too sensitive whenever it came to race, especially in Disney….Anyway, I'm really glad all of you are doing this. It makes me more confident in myself as a girl of color."

The bottom line is that there would be no artistic re-imaginings or commentary if people didn't love—or want to love—Disney princess movies. Nor would the petition about "Brave" have gone viral if parents and kids weren't fiercely attached to the character Merida. Fans are sending their message loud and clear, but is Disney ever going to listen?

—Sarah B. Weir

More from Shine:
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Let's Ease into Superfood Smoothies, Shall We?
Will and Kate as Parents: Following Diana's Lead?

Join The Conversation
AstridOdegard AstridOdegard 3 years
I'm sorry, but you CANNOT take a fairy tale based in one country and then change the setting because you want to characters to be non-white. Disney should not be turning white fairy tales non-white, they should be basing movies off of non-white fairy tales and keeping them non-white.
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