Gender- & Race-bent Disney

A lot of criticism has surrounded Frozen’s success as the top grossing animated film of all time. While the film has many victories in the way women are treated and perceived in the film, there is a even larger drawback: not a single PoC was featured in the film. There wasn’t even PoC as extras! I just wrote a post on Cinderella, a Disney film released in 1950, and that had a PoC count of 0 as well. Does Frozen mark real progress? Not so much.

Often in pockets of the internet you can find pretty cool things (once you sort through the misogyny, anonymous cowardice, isms, and violence). I wanted to share with you a phenomenon within Disney fan art. This niche is focused on race- and gender-bending characters. That means white princesses are redesigned as WoC and male princes are redesigned as female.

The images, which I’ve shared below, are striking — but in a good way. They really make you think about the stories you’re being told and perhaps how much more interesting they would be if told from another race’s or gender’s point of view.

I cannot stress how important equal representation in children’s media is. Disney is a socialization agent unto its own; while you make dinner or are busy with other adult things, what are your children doing? They are most likely observing Disney films, playing with Disney toys, or watching the Disney Channel. Finding safe places for children of color within Disney is a major step toward equality in society, as our children face the reality of diversity in their lives.

You can find an interesting blog here and here, with a link to all of the original artists. If you are a tumblr user, please follow the blogs and enjoy some race- and gender-bent Disney on a daily basis!

Race-bent Anna and Hans from Frozen.

Race-bent Elsa from Frozen.

Gender-bent Hercules

Gender-bent Pocachontas

Middle-Eastern Alice

 

Indian Rapunzel

 

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Disney’s Distortion of Awesome Princesses through Merchandise, Part 1

When you walk down the aisles of a toy store, it is fairly clear where boys and girls are expected to shop. Toy aisles are color-coded for an easy gender prescription. While most Disney princesses are the same old trope and conform easily into sexist merchandising, what happens to the princesses are a little more….untraditional? Turns out they are warped from their positions of individualism and power into the same cookie-cutter shape traditional princesses are in. Here are a few examples.

Merida

In case you missed it, when Disney released a makeover of their Princesses last May, quite a few people were upset with Merida’s makeover. Every body part — including her foot — were slimmed down. Her eyes got bigger and make up was applied. Her dress was lightened in color, made more feminine with golden etching and glitter. And, perhaps the worst offense of all, her weapon was removed from her grip.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas is one of the most problematic WoC in Disney. She is unfairly comandeered by white culture and morale with her tale with no respect for her ethnic background and Native American culture with preference to her tribe (essentially, her story woul be the same if she was replaced with a white woman). Still, Pocahontas persists as the strong princess that chose to stay with her people and her family rather than leave it all behind for the white boy she had met and had a fling with. Pocahontas’ merchandise is more damaging to Native American people than even her motion picture.

In the same makeover that had Disney fans stirring about the presentation of Merida as a Princess, Pocahontas was also redone.

You can see here that jewels were added to her buckskin getup. She was given earrings, her eyes got larger and more doe-like, her torso got thinner, and the necklace she got from her father was made shinier. Makeup was applied. She was all around glamourized with an appreance that looks like it belongs more on the Oscars’ red carpet rather than in the trees.

Disney’s marketing and merchandising strategy with Pocahontas also leads to cultural appropriation of Native American customs and way of life. This includes headdresses, Native American Halloween costumes, dream catchers, etc. Disney is literally cashing in on perpetuating racism.