tianatheprincessandthefrog

I was never too crazy about the Disney princesses with all of their whining and pining for Mr. Right. I’m not raising my girls to sit by the window, waiting for some guy on a white horse to gallop in and whisk them off to become a real-life housewife of Atlanta. I want them to aspire to become much more than daydreaming debutantes in ball gowns, and the last thing I need is some blonde-haired, blue-eyed cartoon character contradicting me.

That said, I’m thrilled about Disney’s upcoming feature film, The Princess and the Frog, featuring Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana. The first five minutes of the film scheduled to premiere this December went up online this past Monday, and so far, the animation looks beautiful.

Of course, there’s been all kinds of controversy about the film already, beginning with the fact that many folks were annoyed that Princess Tiana (originally named Princess Maddy, which sounded “too undignified” for some) would be a chamber maid in the film. Others are perturbed by the fact that her suitor, Prince Naveen, isn’t exactly a brother. And of course, there are those who demand to know why the sister has to be a frog for most of the movie.

But as a woman who would have loved to have had a black Disney princess to admire while growing up, and two daughters in the target demographic for the film, I’m proud of Disney for thinking outside of the box. We all know it hasn’t been easy for them to do that in the past. For far too long, Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty ran things. American Indians had Pocahontas and Asian Americans had Mulan (both sort of underrated, but at least they were there). And there’s been Jasmine, but to me, she always seemed like she was created to keep the rest of us from getting mad. Clearly, somebody at the mega corporation has realized that African-American families have timeshares in Orlando, too. I’m not mad at ‘em.

Finally, little girls of African descent will have a Disney princess who looks more like them, with her very own hair products and happily ever after. Imagine that.

--MEERA BOWMAN-JOHNSON