I am not a “Disney person.” I feel like that’s somewhat sacrilegious on this particular forum but it’s the truth. I’ve been to the parks a few times when I was younger, but really I just remember waiting in long lines and the heat. I’m sure at some point we’ll take our kids but I still can’t wrap my head around the hype and money. (Please don’t stop reading).
Now the movies that I can enjoy in the comfort of a theater or my air conditioned living room are a different story. The second that “When You Wish Upon a Star” starts, I immediately transform into seven year old me. I’m transfixed and belting out the soundtrack of my childhood, much to the annoyance to the rest of my family. The first movie I remember seeing ever in a theater was Aladdin. It never really registered that these movies didn’t feature a leading lady that looked like me. But I remember it manifesting in other ways. Like when Pocahontas’ hair was whipping in the wind and silently wishing my hair looked like that. I didn’t have a Disney princess that looked like me until I had a Bachelor’s Degree and was somebody’s wife. Go figure.
Things are different for my sons and daughter now.
It’s not enough to say representation is important. But, really wrap your head around it. Growing up, I can’t recall a main animated character that I looked like. The brown Barbies never starred in commercials, and the only Black American Girl doll was Addy, who was a runaway slave. Which, albeit is an important part of my history, was a complete drag compared to reading about Victorian Samantha drinking tea in the parlor. The line only goes so far in our storytelling. Until Wakanda, we didn’t have the opportunity to see ourselves as royalty on screen. Actress Maya Rudolph has said she would love to act in a period piece with the intricate costumes and accents but … she can’t. Because of the color of her skin, the historical aspect would be inaccurate.
Which brings me to Halle Bailey who’s casted to play Ariel in the live action “The Little Mermaid.” How AMAZING is it that my daughter will get to see a princess that looks like her?! That my sons will see another version of beauty that reflects their mothers. It’s pretty exciting.
“But Camille, isn’t that YOUR job and not society’s to make your children feel beautiful and validated?”
Look. If we, as adults didn’t need to be validated and seen, we wouldn’t need Brene Brown, Oprah, Rachel Hollis … It’s the same thing when a little girl sees an Ashley Banks, a Lisa Turtle, or … an Ariel.