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FunTimes Magazine

Halle Bailey Plays Lead in Disney’s, "The Little Mermaid"

Jan 09, 2023 02:00PM ● By Kyrah Page
“If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

-Shirley Chisholm

Most of us dreamed of being princesses as young girls. When we saw timeless characters from Disney films like Cinderella, Snow White, or Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, we would aspire to be just like them. However, as young Black girls, we were unable to identify any princesses who resembled us. My parents made a concerted effort to discover toys and television programs with Black representation because they believed it was important for me to recognize myself in the media I consumed. Many other Black families shared that same sentiment.

 Princess Tiana became Disney's first Black princess in 2009 after that. The world was in a frenzy, but many Black families believed that because Princess Tiana spent most of the film as a frog, Disney had not made an honest effort to make a movie featuring a Black princess. 

Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Now, in 2022, we have not one, but two live-action movies with strong, deserving Black women. Disney's The Little Mermaid, in which Halle Bailey plays Ariel, is the first movie. The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, is the first movie. The news of this movie ignited 2022 and sparked numerous controversies, but most significantly, you noticed numerous Black parents posting on social media about how excited they and their kids are to witness a Black princess. 

You would see negative comments on Twitter that read “Us white girls, who grew up with The Little Mermaid, deserve a true-to-color Ariel. Disney, you made a huge mistake by hiring Halle Bailey. This is going in the TRASH.” or “She may be your Ariel but not mine…”  Although these comments are very negative the positive ones overpowered them. There were positive comments like “As a white-skinned redhead, I have very strong feelings about #TheLittleMermaid. Ariel changed my ginger world. The mean “jokes” ended. I became envious of my hair. And you know what? I want little Black girls to experience the same feeling with the new Ariel.” or “...I am so excited that POC (People of Color) will be able to share the joy of a princess that looks like them. You will be a gorgeous Ariel…” Despite the negative comments and with the help of the positive ones Bailey has stated that “it is still a dream come true” 

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In addition to being Black, Halle Bailey is a Black woman with locs that hangs down her back. Because Black women are frequently compelled to wear wigs or straighten their hair to conceal their curls in movies, it is crucial for young girls to witness this depiction. Unfortunately, when it comes to locs you rarely see them at all.

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Since Brandy played Cinderella in 1997, Halle is the first Black woman, recently, to give young Black girls hope and inspiration. Halle is undoubtedly not the last, though, as Gabriella Wilson, better known by her stage as H.E.R., attempted to motivate Black girls once more on December 15, 2022. The 30th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast was celebrated and H.E.R., another respected Black woman and gifted artist, was cast as Belle. 

Brandy, Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a young Black woman, I appreciate the more youthful generation having the opportunity to experience these Disney classics in color, unlike me, unfortunately. Black princesses are changing the narrative for these young Black girls. They are able to appreciate their complexion because they observe other women of the same skin tone accomplishing great things and opening doors for them to follow their dreams as well. Black representation is not stopping here and it will continue because we are taking back our power! We are no longer being pushed to the back for we deserve to be seen, heard, and represented as a people! Representation should be an expectation! 

 Kyrah Page is currently a student at Lincoln University. She is also the CEO and founder of her own brand called “Keepin’ It Kultured.” Where she combines art with activism to empower, inspire and educate the Black community. She advocates for change, promotes black positivity, and addresses controversial issues. Kyrah is many things but most importantly she is an activist.

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