This summer, we witnessed the Disney princesses hanging out together in the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph sequel when they were released, and fans noticed something off about it. In the picture, Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog movie, a.k.a Disney’s first black princess had been drawn to have more Eurocentric features, very much different from what she originally appeared in the 2009 film. Her skin and hair appeared lighter as well as her nose was noticeably slimmed down, which social media fans called out as whitewashing.
So, um…is this supposed to be Princess Tiana in Wreck it Ralph 2? pic.twitter.com/LxBkKjK6zw
— The Great Blaxby. (@HunseckerProxy) August 9, 2018
why does princess tiana look so different from the wreck it ralph trailer we got 2 months ago to today’s new still……….let me know pic.twitter.com/h63b4DXE03
— ً (@thebaudeIaires) August 9, 2018
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… https://t.co/m4qDmzX2Xa
— Kelly Bates Oglesby (@kellyoglesby) August 21, 2018
The backlash continued until last week when Disney had taken the decision to reanimate Tiana’s model, after meeting with the voice of Princess Tiana, Anika Noni Rose, as well as the black advocacy group, Color of Change.
The advocacy group in a statement for the Wall Street Journal 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 in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 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.
Rose took to Instagram on Monday to share about the conversation she’d had with Disney’s animators. In her statement, Rose said she was “surprised” by the changes that have been made to Tiana, but she was also glad to see support.
My team and I immediately put in a call to the studio to talk about the visual changes, and three weeks ago I had a meeting in person with the Wreck It Ralph team, my original animator Mark Henn, and others,
They explained how CGI animation did different things to the characters’ color tones in different light compared to hand-drawn original characters, and I was able to express how important it is to the little girls (and let’s face it, grown women) who felt represented by her that her skin tone stay as rich as it had been and that her nose continue to be the little round nose that Mark so beautifully rendered in the movie; the same nose on my very own face and on many other little brown faces around the world, that we so rarely get to see represented in fantasy.
When The Princess and the Frog were in production, Rose said that she specifically asked Henn to give Tiana “a round nose, full lips and that she be left-handed.”
Rose explained how the animators were working to restore these qualities, saying:
It was important to me to hear what Disney had to say, and to have an open dialogue about legacy and representation,
I also appreciate that this far into the process Disney had enough care and respect for all who love Princess Tiana and her legacy to spend the time and money to make the adjustments necessary. In doing so, they recognize that her legacy is also their legacy; two things I’m very proud to be a part of.
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We have yet to wait for Disney to address this issue.
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