The latest Disney princess is from Hawaii, but New York City parents already love her.
Moana is a Polynesian — and parents are celebrating that Disney has again created a princess who is not the stereotypical white girl with blond hair and blue eyes.
“She seems sweet,” Donna Hardwick, a biracial Brooklynite, says of the brown-skinned title character. “Speaking as a child who did not grow up with many dolls or characters that had different heritage, this is a good direction. And I always like to see that for my own daughter.”
Hardwick’s daughter, who is 5, is a diehard fan of a particular white princess with platinum hair from “Frozen.”
“She loves Elsa,” Hardwick says. “AS lovely as Elsa and Anna are, it would be nice to … introduce her to something new.”
The most effusive response to the new princess came from Lyss Stern, CEO of divamoms.com, a lifestyle company for moms, and the mother of two sons, 12 and 8, and a 19-month-old daughter. She plans to take her girl to the movie when it comes out next November.
“I love that Disney is trying more and more to get away from that stereotypical Barbie doll, blond hair, blue eyed (princess). She is Polynesian and beautiful and she will be a princess a lot of girls will look up to.”
Even the plot line — which features Moana setting forth on a journey — will inspire girls to be more independent, Stern adds.
“She knows exactly what she wants,” she says. “We want to raise girls to be smart, empowered and be the best they can be. Years ago, it was based upon their beauty.”
For decades, Disney princesses were white, until Jasmine in “Aladdin” in 1992, Pocahontas in 1995 and Mulan in 1998. But the Mouse House hasn’t always gotten it right, such as when it was criticized for lightening the skin of Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog” in 2009.
Judging from the new image of Moana released by Disney this week, she will strike the right note of self-esteem with children, parents said.
“They need to know that there is not just one certain norm; there are other cultures,” says Ouida Malik, a licensed social worker who practices in Queens and is sensitive to the issue because she is Trinidadian and Bengali.
“(Diversity) contributes to how they interact in school and home and harmony,” Malik says.
Of course, any new Disney princess is cause for celebration in some homes. But Moana is especially exciting to Meredith Tiger, a New Jersey publicist with daughters ages 5 and 8.
“She is cute,” Tiger says. “I like that she doesn’t look like Cinderella. She has brown hair, like my daughters, so they will relate to her.”
Even the teenager plucked from obscurity to voice Moana in the animated film relates to her — which makes sense because she, too, is a raven-haired Hawaiian.
“She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well,” the 14-year-old actress Auli’i Cravalho from Oahu told People. “I just love watching how she goes along … and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”
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