Thursday, August 13, 2009

Enough with the White Girls, Walt!

I love Disney. I truly do. I grew up in a family of Disney lovers. My parents would pile us in the RV every year and take us to Disney World for two weeks. They are some of the most incredible memories of my childhood.

For all the time I worked at Warner Bros. (off and on for ten years), my loyalty still remained with Mickey and the gang and not Bugs and friends (even though they paid my mortgage). When I started consulting for Disney several weeks back, I couldn't wait to share it with my dad -- the ultimate Disney fan. Walt and Co. will always hold a special place in the Morgan family's hearts.

With all the gushing I'm doing over the main mouse and his entourage, you can only imagine how much it pains me to ask this question...

Disney, what the hell is wrong with you?

I took the kids this morning to pick out new lunch boxes for the upcoming school year. The boys darted toward Wall-E, Brady screeching with delight at the sight of his trash-compacting friend. We got Jacob a matching backpack for kindergarten and headed over to see what we could find for Lucy (although I did agree with her that if she didn't like anything in the very pink section, we'd come back over and get Wall-E for her too).

We stood in front of the wall of rosiness and perused our options. There were four... Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Cinderella and the white trio of princesses. Of course there was also Hannah Montana but don't even get me started on her. Not one of the lunchboxes had anyone with skin any darker than the endless cups of milk my kids down every day. I was completely surprised that there absolutely no diversity whatsoever -- no Mulan, Jasmine, Pocahontas or the newest princess, Tiana. Not one glimpse of Tinkerbell's posse, Silvermist, Fawn, Rosetta, Iridessa or the bad girl, Vidia. NOTHING.

I have my own thoughts about princesses and encouraging our daughters to play the part (God help the man who marries a "princess"), but I am willing to give in when there's at least a representation of different skin colors. How often do you see a little blonde girl carrying a backpack portraying the character she feels most looks like her? Or a redhead toting the Little Mermaid? It's what girls do. But standing in the store looking at lunchbox after lunchbox, my daughter didn't even have one option.

Hey, I know this may come across as an obvious statement to some. Say whatever you want about the fact that I'm 38 years old and it's really hitting me now that I have an Asian daughter. But being practically transluscent, there were plenty of princesses in my company. Now I find myself trying to sway Lucy away from choosing girls like the firey mermaid (but really mostly because she's half naked with a better rack than any of us).

And in case you're wondering, I did wonder if I was pushing this "relating to the lunchbox" thing on my daughter. I know I can be overly concerned about what she experiences given the differences in her and the boys. But when I saw her lunge for a Nihao Kai-Lan shirt sold at Target, holding it close to her with a big grin on her face, I knew that it absolutely matters to her -- today and always.

So Disney, while I know you have a lot of characters of several different ethnicities in your movies, I only hope you begin to think about the same way when you make products for our kids. Because you have a huge opportunity here.

Now what's with the mom being dead in all your movies?