April 15, 2024

We’re applauding Disney for being so diverse and seriously hoping everyone will follow its lead

In recent years, Disney has attracted criticism for their lack of diversity. With majority white casts and gendered stereotypes, the world grew increasingly frustrated by the lack of aspirational role models.

Should we be encouraging young girls to be at the mercy of men? Who are young black girls meant to look up to if they don’t see themselves represented on screen? These are hugely valid points that thankfully are being addressed.

A black Little Mermaid? A feminist Bo Peep? Not an entirely white cast? Yes, the Disney princess got woke.

Case in point: Last month saw the arrival of the fourth instalment of Toy Story 4 but this time, Bo Peep who used to play a supporting role as Woody’s love interest returned as a leading lady with a new feminist attitude. “It’s about embracing the femininity of a stronger, more self-sufficient character”, said Mara MacMahon, a character modeller who worked on Bo’s makeover.

Equally, R&B singer Halle Bailey has been revealed as the new Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, making her the first black princess in 22 years. That it took this long is shocking but we can only praise Disney for casting a young black woman, and the significant impact it will have for today’s younger generation.

Similarly, Disney’s The Lion King arrives on our screens next week with none other than Queen Bey and Donald Glover voicing Simba and Nala (so major). Despite not physically appearing on screen, the diverse line-up of Hollywood actors, singers and comedians voicing the film gets a round of applause from us.

And it doesn’t stop there because the remake of Mulan, scheduled for release next year, has been awarded on the internet for bringing Asian representation to the lineup of Disney’s Princesses with Chinese-born actress Liu Yifei playing the lead.

In short, keep doing your thing Disney. We salute you.

As for those protesting against their new direction (shocking as it may be, there is a #NotMyAriel backlash hashtag), we have no words because no young girl deserves to grow up feeling unrepresented by mainstream media.

The important thing is that Disney are paving the way for diversity in entertainment during the crucial first moments a child is influenced. More of this please.

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