2007. I wait with my sister to ride in some race-cars at Disneyland and in line I see a girl dressed as Tinkerbell. She looked just like the fairy from the beloved childhood movie Peter Pan but she was brunette and not blonde. Initially, this startled me and in my head I was saying “You can’t be Tinkerbell you don’t look like her, you have blonde hair” but now that I reflect on it, perhaps I had these thoughts because my entire life has been just that. “You can’t be this because you don’t look like her.”
Now it’s the year 2019, I’m 23 years old and now the voice in my head is less judgmental when it comes to appearance. Things are changing and my experiences have led me to think very differently from how I used to.
Twice I have had the opportunity to audition for musicals that are based off of the Peter Pan tale and both times I have auditioned for the role of Tinkerbell. I have always seen myself as a Tinkerbell. She is sassy, witty, and she’s got gumption. Her personality says it all. Both times I’ve shown up, the room has been full of white blondes and brunettes either auditioning for Wendy or Tinkerbell and then there’s me. Brown skinned, black haired me. But I don’t care. I think Tinkerbell can be Asian too. She is in fact a mythological creature so who says she has to be white. Classic narratives can be told by different kinds of people. But while these thoughts are circulating through my head there is another circulating the nation.
#BlackAriel is posted everywhere as well as #NotMyAriel. People are angry and upset that Disney has chosen black actress, Halle Bailey, to star as Ariel in the live action remake. People on the #NotMyAriel side have tried to come up with "proof" that she cannot be black. So here are my arguments for you racists:
1) Hans Christian Anderson was Danish but Danish people are black too.
2) Hans Christian Anderson wrote this based off of his love for another man. So if you really want to be legit then make Ariel a man. #MakeArielaMan
3) YOU ALREADY HAVE A WHITE ARIEL.
A WHITE EVERYTHING
A GOOD MAJORITY OF DISNEY PRINCESSES ARE WHITE. LET PEOPLE OF COLOR BE THE HEROINES AND PRINCESSES TOO
4) Disney created 49 films from 1937-2009 before delivering their first black princess, Tiana. FOR 70 YEARS BLACK GIRLS NEVER SAW THEMSELVES.
5) Ariel is a mermaid. A mythological creature. Not all mythological creatures are white. Other cultures have tales of having mermaids as well. ALSO SINCE SHE IS A MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE HER SKIN CAN BE ANY COLOR. She could purple like a sea urchin or completely green like sea turtles or orange like fucking Nemo.
6) For People of Color, growing up everyone tells you that you can’t be a lot of things. But especially when it’s time for Halloween “You can’t be Sleeping Beauty you don’t look like her-or Snow White – or Maleficent – or Belle – or Cinderella – or Ariel”.
7) For those of you saying “We all think about Ariel when we see someone with red hair and now that won’t be possible”.
a. Nothing is being taken away from you, the original movie will still exist. Children will still watch it because kids will watch anything you let them.
b. How you remember the original Ariel will still exist in your mind and everyone else’s it is indeed a classic and will continue to be cherished, but now people will think of both and that is okay. Why? Because to a little black girl she is now going to have someone she looks up to and connects with because Ariel looks like her. It will create a positive impact for her. It is her turn.
I'd hope that the youths of today will think less like how I did back then and more how I think now. And I truly think that this new live remake will help do that. The movies and shows I watched growing up hardly had people of color. But the industry is changing - slowly- but it is happening. Progress is being made. Let progress happen.