Animators have been forced to re-draw Disney’s first black princess after anti-racism campaigners claimed she had been ‘whitewashed’ with lighter skin and straighter hair for her latest role.
Princess Tiana was the first black Disney princess, created for the film ‘The Princess and The Frog’ in 2009. She has been re-animated for the new film ‘Wreck It Ralph 2’, in which all the princesses have a sleepover.
When the trailer was released in May, fans noticed she looked considerably different – her skin was lighter and her corkscrew curls had been tamed to gentle waves.
Color of Change, an anti-racism charity that set up a petition to tell Disney to “stop whitewashing” their black characters, said it had been in conversation with Disney, which agreed to restore the princess to her “original depiction”.
Tiana is, by conception, supposed to be African American. Which is what does make this fun. We could use older words like octoroon – most unfashionable these days – or have a look at the incidence of sickle cell perhaps. The actual colouring and looks of African Americans ranges from markedly pinker than I am through to full on Igbo or Yoruba.
The demand from the campaigners is for a stereotype every bit as much a cliche as the worst Mamie as a Maid from Birth of a Nation. Which is amusing, no?