Disney fans are rallying around an open letter addressing concerns with the Character Performers at the Walt Disney World Resort, which petitions for the Entertainment department to stop using makeup… At least on one Disney Princess.
When visiting Disney Parks, the prospect of getting to meet your favorite character up close and personal can turn an ordinary day into an extremely magical one. For Guests of all ages, but particularly young children, meet-and-greets with famous heroines, who shaped your growth, entertained, and inspired you, can create impactful memories that can last a lifetime.
Moreover, for minority Guests, such empowering representation is that much more important and special, making it complicated when Disney gets it wrong. For example, fans within the Pacific Islander communities recently criticized Disney for choreography by a Moana character performer that inaccurately represented the ancient Polynesian culture where her story takes place.
Now, another critique has come up, posted by an anonymous Asian American fan on the Reddit forum r/WaltDisneyWorld last weekend, pleading with Disney to discontinue Fa Mulan’s current costume design as it appears at the Orlando Resort so as not to “betray the character in many different aspects.” Discrepancies listed included her wig’s more elaborate hairstyle, the added and lightened color palette of her gown, and most importantly, her makeup.
Of course, because the princess performers comprise the Entertainment department, all of the heroines you will see in the Parks wear elaborate stage makeup in addition to professionally styled wigs and decadent costumes, as Guests expect. Although such elements help the experience seem transformative and realistic, this fan notes that, unlike other princesses whose fancier designs match their original movie depictions, Mulan’s new look is not immediately recognizable as the female warrior who saved all of China.
In addition, she notes that the more elegant look inspired by the Disney Princess rebrand in the mid-2000s still includes aspects relative to the heroine, unlike Mulan’s Park design which “disrespects” her original character. According to this fan, having Mulan’s in-person appearances associated with her matchmaker scene from the 1998 film discredit her character development, putting her into a position where she was most uncomfortable, forced to play someone she wasn’t by societal expectations for women in Ancient China.
Unlike the scene directly after when she wipes the makeup away, her Disney World design is not representative of Fa’s “true self:”
To me, Mulan wearing the matchmaker makeup in the Parks betrays the growth and development she goes through in the movie and diminishes her to only being a princess rather than the warrior she is as well.
In conclusion, the concerned fan implored Disney to “have her looks reflect, respect, and honor who she was and who she continues to be. Please,” something which we know is possible as Mulan’s persona as the more masculine Fa Ping already makes very rare appearances. Indeed, it would not be hard for Disney to find a comfortable, happy medium. What do you think?