Disney: Where dreams get broken?
by vanessa on October 19, 2015 - 1:11am
In June of 2015, Julianna McDermott posted the shocking article titled as “Girl Told She Shouldn’t Dress As Elsa ‘Because she’s black’ Recieves Outpouring Of Support”. Rachel Muir, an Australian aboriginal, and her daughter Samara attended a Disney-themed event at a shopping center in Melbourne. Samara dressed up as her favorite Disney princess Elsa, in excitement for the event. The author goes on to mention that while waiting in line to play in a snow pit another mother and her two daughters turned to Samara and said they couldn’t understand why she would dress up as Elsa, because Queen Elsa isn’t black. Rachel asked the woman what she meant by the comment, and while the other mother may have not known what to answer one of her daughters bluntly pointed at Samara and said she’s ugly because she is black. Samara was heartbroken by the comment and started crying, the next few days she was very quite, and even wanted to skip out on her aboriginal dance class because she didn’t want to be black. The author mentions how the story had spread through social media and sent a lot of support Samaras way, she was even crowned the Queen Elsa of Australia in a Facebook competition and her spirits were lifted back up.
I was absolutely shocked after reading this article and felt the need to respond to it because the events that happened that day probably changed Samaras view of her self forever. As a young girl dressing up as my favorite Disney princess was a way to make me feel beautiful and powerful, and it saddens me that those feelings were cut short for Samara. Reading the first comment about the girls questioning Samara on why she would dress up as Elsa if she’s not white I found that it really supported Winkler’s statement in “Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Races” saying that children are not only able to recognize race from a very young age but they also are able to develop racial biases by the ages three to five. I found myself questioning whether the girls would consider it ok if they dressed up as a princess of different ethnicity other than white, like Tiana from Princess and the Frog. The fact that the girls really distinguished Samaras skin color being the problem supports that their reasoning of why she couldn’t be Elsa was purely off racism as opposed to her hair color or them just not looking anything alike. One of the girls also told Samara that she’s ugly because she’s black, I think this is a reflection of how the mother is raising her children. It’s important that parents discuss race with their children in an appropriate, not dumbed downed, lesson on racial inequality (Winkler, 2009). I also wonder whether these ideas of the two girls come from racist views of the mother which may have been passed down to them, this is why I think it’s important that racism is addressed in schools. Parents, teachers, coaches, we all need to start acknowledging that racism exists and it starts younger than we may assume. Its time we educate children about race at a young age so they can grow up respecting one another, and avoiding cases like Samara’s which could have eventually had a horrible effect on her self-confidence.
McDermott, J. (2015). Girl told she shouldn’t dress as Elsa “because she’s black” receives outpouring of support. The Huffington Post Canada.