Disney has long been a metaphor for American society: its early days were plagued with racism and sexism, but over time it's gradually become a place of diversity and free-thinking, totally badass women. As society opened its mind to change, so did Disney; as gender norms were challenged, the role of "princess" was redefined, and other races were included into the mix. These boundaries continue to be challenged today, and the latest reimagining of Disney comes courtesy of lettherebedoodles artist TT, who has drawn some of the most famous Disney princesses as different races.
After TT posted the creations on her Tumblr, they were met with a mix of praise and criticism. But the artist eloquently explained what her intentions were: "I feel like there’s beauty in every racial background, and this is honestly nothing more then an exploration of different races from a technical and artistic standpoint."
Either way, they are pretty neat, and do an excellent job at recontextualizing these familiar Disney princesses in an unfamiliar way — something that little girls can look at and think, "Hey, Asian Cinderella seems pretty cool too." Check out the drawings below.
Ariel From The Little Mermaid
Aurora From Sleeping Beauty
Belle From Beauty and the Beast
Cinderella From Cinderella
Jasmine From Aladdin
Pocahontas From Pocahontas
Snow White From Snow White
Why is this important for Disney's audience, and for society as a whole, you ask? Well, it wasn't long ago that Disney was still sending out some pretty dangerous messages to its young viewers. I remember obsessively watching The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin as a child. All three were played on repeat, in a constant rotation. I even bought (or had my parents buy, rather) the corresponding song books and soundtracks on cassette tape and learned every song by heart. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was also learning some pretty antiquated life lessons.
The Little Mermaid taught me that in order to be happy, you need to find your Prince Charming, and in order to obtain said Prince Charming, you need to change yourself, no matter how dramatically (splitting your fish tail into two legs is about as dramatic as you can get). Beauty and the Beast taught me that in order to be happy, you need to find your Prince Charming, and in order to obtain said Prince Charming, you need accept him no matter how awful or beastly he is (bonus lesson: you'll be rewarded for your lack of vanity in the most vain way ever — your monstrous boyfriend will turn into Fabio). At least Aladdin broke the gender-role mold somewhat, in that the protagonist was a man who had go through all kinds of nonsense to obtain his Princess Charming, but the movie's portrayal of Arabs certainly painted a narrow picture for my young, impressionable mind.
Today, Disney has come a long way since those days, but it still has a ways to go yet before it mirrors the diverse society in which we live. My bet is that if we continue to think outside the box, as TT has, then we'll be well on our way.