more inquiries about the Asian American Disney Princess photoshoot
Donnie (donniekompany): Before I start, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has liked and reblogged our photo project. All of the positive comments make us smile because it means that our message is getting out there. It is making people, you, think. I’m also jumping in my seat a bit because yamino and albinwonderland have shared our work on their pages too!
Now, amongst the many positive comments we have received, there have been a few negative comments as well. Kim did a great job addressing some of them in a separate post. I, however, am tired of reading the same criticisms over and over again. So I will address them here.
(I, Kim (knphoto/annakimskywalker), will also be adding my 2 cents to each criticism as well)
“Tinkerbell isn’t a princess”:
Donnie: True, she isn’t. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t belong in the classic Disney character list. Tinkerbell played a crucial part in Peter Pan and deserves just as much credit as any other Disney princess.
“Children of color don’t have a hard time relating to White Disney princesses”:
Donnie: I will have to disagree. Kim’s and my whole project revolves around how not only us, but other women of color grew up not being able to fully connect with the White princesses. This doesn’t lessen the hardships the princesses went through. We can still connect with them through those hardships and overcoming struggles, but it is the experience we are making a connection with; not their image. When I was little, I would pick Belle as my favorite Princess to imitate because she has long dark hair (this was before Mulan came about). I wouldn’t pick Cinderella because she had blonde hair, and I wouldn’t pick Snow White because she was extremely pale (even though she had dark hair too). When it came to Barbie dolls, I would always try to get the one with dark hair. Why did I have this deep need for dark hair? Because I HAD DARK HAIR. I wanted to look like them so I could be them. But there was always this disconnect because I wasn’t white. My skin wasn’t a peach color. My eyes didn’t have the double eyelid. So to say that children don’t have a hard time relating to White Disney Princesses invalidates all of my childhood struggles of trying to be a Disney Princess myself. I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that and accept our feelings.
Kim: This is an incredibly broad statement to make. If you’re White and have no problem connecting to princesses of color/a person of color and have no problem connecting to the White princesses, that’s great, but also keep in mind that your experiences don’t speak for everyone. Donnie and I are coming from a very personal place in this photoshoot, a place I know many fellow PoC come from as well. Do you have any idea what it means to a young Asian/Asian American girl to see Mulan be presented in the Disney princess lineup? What it means to go so long with little/no representation of your race and only living with the scraps of problematic, racist depictions? Because it’s a feeling only those of us who don’t have people who look like us splattered everywhere will ever know. This colorblind mentality is incredibly problematic and erases individual experiences/identities/histories, and non-PoC really have no place telling us how we should feel. Asking questions is one thing, claiming PoC don’t have problems relating to White characters is something totally different.
Also, don’t think I didn’t see some of you use “colored princesses”. if we’ve been consistently using “princesses of color”, it’s your best bet to use that same term as well.
“Having a character that is completely different from the origin they are supposed to be wouldn’t be accurate.”
Donnie: And having Hollywood white-wash a whole cast that was supposed to be Asian wouldn’t be accurate either *cough* Dragonball *cough* 21 *cough* Akira *cough* Dead or Alive *cough*
Kim: Donnie was spot on with the White washing of PoC casts. Where’s the controversy over that? Where’s the same criticism 21 should get for White washing REAL PEOPLE that the James Bond franchise got for wanting Idris Elba to be the next James Bond, a FICTIONAL character?
Also, something important to consider is why mostly European fairytales/stories are the ones being chosen. There’s countless tales from every culture, and yet only European ones are being chosen. Why is that? Why is the idea that it’s a European setting used to justify the lack of PoC characters, as if we don’t exist at all?
And if we’re talking about accuracy here, let’s also talk about a woman turning into a dragon. or talking bears, fish, and crabs. or turning a grown woman into a frog and then turning her back into a human. LET’S TALK ABOUT ALL THESE THINGS.
“Rather than changing white princesses to Asian, should we not try to draw more focus to princesses of colour instead?”
Donnie: Like how Pocahontas’s portrayal was historically inaccurate? How Tiana was a frog and GREEN for a majority of the movie? How Jasmine’s skin color was considerably paler than Jafar’s or Aladdin’s? If you want to focus on Princesses of color, we can. We can focus on how Disney fucked over every princess of color they’ve ever had. Which is 4.
Kim: And why is it that even PoC cultures are being represented, the absolute bare minimum of research is done and we wind up with horrendous, inaccurate portrayals? Let’s talk about that too.
“White Princesses aren’t bad role models just because they’re White”:
Both of us: We never said that White princesses are bad role models solely because they are White. We never said White princesses are bad role models, period. This entire project shows how much we like the princesses, so we don’t know where this argument came from at all.