Blacktrack: Disney restores its 'whitewashed' princess

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Blacktrack: Disney restores its 'whitewashed' princess

Studio rushes to reverse changes to Princess Tiana after anti-racism campaigners claimed her skin is too white

Helena Horton


Animators have been forced to redraw Disney’s first black princess after anti-racism campaigners claimed she had been “whitewashed” with lighter skin and straighter hair in her latest appearance.
Princess Tiana was the first black Disney princess, created for the film The Princess and The Frog in 2009. She has been reanimated for the film Wreck-It Ralph 2, in which all the Disney 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” its black characters, said it had been in conversation with Disney, which agreed to restore the princess to her “original depiction”.
Color of Change’s original petition said: “Princess Tiana looks nothing like her original character. She is shown here with Eurocentric features; a slimmer nose, loose curly hair and a significantly lighter skin tone than her previous depictions. This is unacceptable. Yet again, Disney made the choice to whitewash an image that represents us. They’ve totally removed and replaced Princess Tiana’s full lips, dark skin and kinky hair. By doing so, they are showing us that they don’t care about reflecting the diversity of the black community.”
Following further criticism from fans, the animation company released a new image, featuring a markedly different looking princess, with darker skin and tighter curls.
Brandi Collins-Dexter, senior campaign director of Color of Change, said: “Disney’s decision to restore Princess Tiana’s image to that of an unapologetically black princess with full lips, dark skin and dark hair ... is a victory for Color of Change members, black children and their parents, and black audiences who want to see the variety of shades, shapes and sizes of black characters accurately represented in the arts.”
She added: “Disney is an incredibly powerful and influential company and its decisions have far-reaching implications for other companies that provide entertainment for children and adults around the world.”
Disney animators consulted Anika Noni Rose, the actress who voices Tiana, before redesigning the character. They had to reanimate a portion of the film, inserting the new depiction of the princess.
Disney did not respond to a request for comment.
– © The Daily Telegraph

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