Disney World’s 50th Anniversary event took place on Friday, and it brought us a HEAVENLY performance by our next Ariel, Halle Bailey. Watching this performance made the little Black girl in me glow like she never got to when she was younger.
We can look at this as her Disney debut ahead of her part in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid, and she did not disappoint. My Twitter feed was obsessing over this performance all weekend (as it should have been). Not many Disney princesses can be Ariel AND sing a flawless cover of one of Disney’s most famous theme songs, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”. Now I’m so pumped about how amazing the Mermaid soundtrack is going to be. Her voice has that classic princess tone that holds strength in its sweetness, and her presence was as sparkly and confident as it gets. Although there was so much going on behind her with the fireworks and orchestra, she was the obvious centre of attention. At that moment, the castle in the background belonged to HER. Sarah previously wrote about how frustrating it was to see people complaining about Halle being chosen to be Ariel (complaints were from racist people who were enraged about a Black girl being a...mermaid). This performance made all arguments out even more invalid than they already were.
I used to watch The Little Mermaid on a VHS tape at least twice a day when I first got my hands on it. It was a comfort movie, and I took a lot of creative inspiration from it. But when I look back, I also remember wishing that I had coloured eyes and long luscious hair, because the only example of elegance I had been consuming was Ariel, among many other white princesses. I was already wishing I was something else at the young age of four, and it doesn’t take an expert to know how damaging that can be in such important and formative years. As sad as that is, it’s the honest truth that comes from a lack of representation in the media. Now that Halle has stepped into the lead of the live-action version, I can’t help but feel like this is a l full circle moment for people like me. Watching her stand on a Disney stage and radiate princess energy in a way I wish that little Black girl in me would have benefited so much in seeing makes me hopeful. I’m happy knowing that there will be a version of that for the little Black girls out there today.