Earlier this year, Disney Princess fans were caught off guard when popular characters Mulan and Pocahontas debuted new looks at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, respectively. And while fans were mostly ambivalent about Mulan’s new look (which was “inspired” by her matchmaker outfit, but doesn’t really resemble anything specifically seen in the film) many were very upset by Pocahontas’ new outfit, which swapped her iconic blue necklace (which the film says is a gift from her mother) for a plain white seashell necklace that was "inspired" by the hand-made look of traditional Native American jewelry.
However, though these previous changes were met with some annoyance from character fans, Disney quietly made another character change last week that set off the biggest firestorm of controversy yet...
Introducing the newly redesigned Princess Jasmine
During the inaugural Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party last week, fans were able to meet a brand new, redesigned Princess Jasmine in Adventureland. This princess' new look swaps her trademark billowy blue pants and crop top with a full-body dress that features a high neck, long sleeves, and goes all the way down to the floor. The dress also includes a jeweled bust accent, a gold belt and glittering embroidery throughout. In addition to the costume overhaul, Jasmine’s hair also seems to have gotten a bit of a redesign, as she now has small flyaway bangs.
Obviously, this new look is unlike any that we have ever seen before at Disney parks or in any of the Aladdin films. So why would Disney make one of its most popular characters less recognizable?
Character integrity vs. cultural norms
Though Disney doesn’t make official comments on character redesigns, attendants and Cast Members have been telling curious guests that ask about Jasmine’s new look that this redesign was created to help the character look more like the culture she represents. However, the glaring issue with this is of course, that Princess Jasmine doesn’t officially represent any specific culture, since she is from Agrabah, a fictional land. And though the lines between fact and fiction have been blurred quite a bit recently (Anna and Elsa are clearly from Arendelle, but somehow represent Norway at Epcot), the fact remains that until the land of Agrabah is real, there’s no official dress that is associated with this fictional land. Now while Pocahontas and Mulan come from a very real place, Jasmine does not, which is why this redesign is even more perplexing.