Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Young Black Girls Deserve Fairy Tales Too– The Little Mermaid Adaptation

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

Just recently, Disney released a trailer for their new live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid where Halle Bailey stars as Ariel. We know Ariel as a white red-haired mermaid with a green tail. When the casting for the adaptation was announced in 2019, the movie received backlash since Ariel, a fictional mermaid, is not white as the 1989 cartoon portrays her to be. 

Despite the backlash, there has been a surge of TikTok reactions, in response to the newly released trailer, of young Black girls getting excited to see someone like them on the big screen. It is not solely the fact that there is a Black woman on the big screen, but it is a Black princess living out fairy-tale. Being able to witness Bailey’s Ariel represent these young Black girls shows that they deserve a fairy-tale and a fantasy. 

It is not only young Black girls feeling excited over the trailer, but many adults are just as overjoyed. From seeing Princess Tiana on the screen and now the new adaptation of Ariel, everyone has big hopes for this upcoming movie. 

Having Halle Bailey play Ariel demonstrates how impactful it is for a diverse cast to be presented in a positive light. There has been a major push towards representation in the media and progressively, we have seen many TV shows, movies, and books have a diverse cast. In turn, this proves that representation creates empathy. 

Growing up, I never saw myself represented in any fantasy world and when I did see a character of color on screen, they were either presented as the side character or portrayed negatively. This damages BIPOC children’s perspective of their own identity as it alters their self-image and self-worth in their community. Having that positive representation in the media is significant in how we perceive ourselves and representation can act as a reflection. If reflecting BIPOC communities in a positive light can be shown in the media, then it will ultimately boost our self-esteem. It gives merit to our sense of self. 

To witness the thrill of the BIPOC audience as Disney releases this movie trailer gives this community a sense of value. Having a Black princess after Disney has exclusively made their princesses white for years and to also portray them in such glory shows progressive change in our society. Given that Disney is one of the major big-name corporations that influence and shape children’s views, this is a huge win to see inclusivity be displayed for the world. It gives these young children of color the luxury of having a fairy-tale instead of trying to insert themselves into one. 

The Little Mermaid adaptation is set to release on May 26th, 2023, with voice appearances of Awkwafina and Daveed Diggs as well as new songs to be added. It is so exciting to have another Black princess with a gorgeous voice take on this role. It gives rise to the many children of color who don’t feel as represented in the media because now, they are able to see themselves in a whimsical princess like Ariel. 

Jasmin Macalma

San Francisco '22

An Eve Babitz and a yerba mate (orange exuberance) enthusiast with a love for op-eds and essay collections.