Do you remember seeing Princess & The Frog for the first time? I was about eighteen. I grew up watching Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, etc. But Princess Tiana was immeasurably different. She was Disney’s first African American Disney princess. She looked like me. So I took myself to see the movie. And then I saw it again. The Princess Tiana effect at that time was that I felt seen. Black girls had a Black princess no matter the opinions.
Since 2009, I hadn’t given much thought to Princess Tiana. But once my daughter was born I couldn’t wait to introduce her to Princess Tiana. I couldn’t help but feel proud that my daughter would grow up with a Disney Princess who looked like her. Yes Disney now Little Mermaid and even H.E.R. as Belle. But Princess Tiana is not a remake of another princess. She is an original. She is an OG princess. The “Princess Tiana Effect” or whatever you’d like to call it only was the start of African American representation within Disney.
Now it’s 2024. Disney has changed and evolved. African Americans have superheroes, heroes, and heroines all within the Disney universe. We have African Americans who collaborate, imagineer, and create for Disney with recognition that was not as prominent as before. What Disney looked like for me as a child and what it looks like for me as an adult is vastly different.
In a couple of weeks my daughter is turning three. We are going to Disney. Princess Tiana is our princess for our trip. From our Disney Resort down to our outfits we are embracing Princess Tiana. It doesn’t matter if my daughter hasn’t seen the movie or even cares about Princess Tiana. But it matters to me that my daughter has the opportunity to meet a princess who looks just like her. Representation matters. I love Disney. I love Disney even more when I get to see African Americans celebrated as main characters in movies, stories, and rides.