How Disney’s Live Action The Little Mermaid is Important for Representation

I’m sure you’ve all seen the new trailer for the live-action Disney movie of The Little Mermaid. Isn’t it beautiful? Can you feel the passion in the one snippet of the song “Part of that World?” It brought me to tears. 

The announcement of a new Ariel

Months ago, I read in the blogs that the singer Halle Bailey would be cast as Ariel, and I thought ”OMG! How amazing is that going to be for her to be in this role?!” I’ve followed Halle and her sister Chole’ for a long time. Ever since they were doing YouTube videos of the versions of many songs, including the infamous Beyonce’, who took them under her wing and made them into the stars they are today. 

However, since the release of the trailer, and even before then, I’ve read a lot of hateful comments on how the “new Ariel” looks. “Her hair isn’t red enough.” “Her skin color isn’t right.” “That’s not my Ariel.” “What if Disney made Tiana, Jasmine, or Mulan a different skin tone.” (this one made no sense at all but … anyway) 

These were just the “nice” ones, by the way, but these comments are very hurtful; you FINALLY see a beautiful representation of what my daughter and other melanated-skinned children look like, and it hurts to read the comments. The “Little Mermaid” was one of my favorites growing up, with the bold colors of the sea and the songs that drew me into this amazing movie. And of course, those who know me know that I’m a Disney fanatic!

I mean it’s just a movie, but times are different. I didn’t see much representation of me when I was growing up and now that Disney and other companies are finally showing this, it’s awesome.

Representation matters

Watching videos of the reactions of these little girls who see that Ariel is indeed black is a beautiful thing. If you haven’t seen any of those videos, you really should. The joy and excitement in the voices of these young girls when you hear “she looks like me” sends chills through my body, not to mention tears to my eyes. It’s a joyful feeling to hear that, you can literally feel the emotion from watching them. 

That’s why this is important, not because of what you are used to seeing and what you grew up with, but what the kids today see. There are two versions now, so everyone has an option to choose what they can watch. 

Seeing all the backlash and how people really must DEFEND that a person of color is playing the live-action version of this beloved character is uncalled for. We need more diversity in our world; that’s how we can learn and understand everyone’s cultures. That’s why representation matters. It shows that the people who look like my daughter and me and you and your children can see other characters and share the same interest and see the magic in anything that we may believe in. 

So can we please be mindful of our reactions and think about the true purpose of why this is necessary, and in all honestly get over it? It’s done now and Halle Bailey is going to be amazing. The new songs are going to be beautiful like her and her voice, plus she is going to be a breakout star once the movie is released.

I cannot wait to see this and if anyone would like to join my daughter and me in celebrating this movie come join us. We will be happy to celebrate with you.

Ja’Nae was born in Houma and raised on the outskirts of New Orleans known as the Westbank, where she still resides. She’s currently dating her boyfriend of 3 years and together they raise their daughter A’nylah. After attending Jackson State University, she moved back to New Orleans and then earned her master’s at Full Sail University in Public Relations, she currently works part-time at a local Bra Boutique where she enjoys helping women feel good about themselves. In her free times, she’s looking for the latest fashion trends, working out, learning how to organize her life, relaxing by enjoying a good movie or series and finding fun things to do with her new family.


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