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Disney is Changing How its Princesses Look, and it's Proving Controversial

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

Image: Laura W.

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

Image: Steven & Courtney Johnson & Horwitz Follow, Flickr (license)

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.

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There are 27 comments.

Jasmine's new costume looks every cute! We might not see Rapunzel receiving a new look in the Disney parks, because there weren't any changes to her, the only change is that they added glitter on her dress for the Disney Princess franchise.

While I understand the need for imagineers to feel the need to be politically correct, I feel that they will confuse children who are looking for their princesses. They know what they look like and that's what they want to see. I am saddened by their need to address this. I just think this is something they never should have touched. Movies are movies and life is life. If Disney is the most magical place on earth, then eave it that way. Don't get into something that is only going to open up a hornets nest.

Princess Jasmine was far too exposed (in the I Dream of Jeannie way). As we all know, women of that area are quite modest and would not be exposed that way. I like the new Jasmine.

actually, Jasmine is from 18th century Arabia which had clothing much closer to egypt at the time and was far more revealing. also She is Hindu not muslim which also factors into her clothing. I feel they are ruining the culture of 18th century Arabia by changing her because the world feels she is too revealing. We cannot and should not protect our children from the real world, violence included or they will never be ready for it. I also feel that we should learn and understand the cultures from around the world and time.

Princess Jasmine is Arabic. If you listen to the song in the beginng of Aladdin.

Jasmine was also the most heckled (by adult males) of any female character at Disney. I think more coverage is a good idea for these characters.

Then throw them out of the park. As women, I am very concerned for a society that says since MEN cannot behave themselves, WOMEN must alter their behavior.

Oh men can't help themselves from harassing her so we have to modify something to the point of being practically unrecognizable. Teach men to not be Jenks and then we wouldn't have an issue. I get that the costume was quite exposed, but then add a bodysuit like mowgli or something. Don't change the entire costume.

I think it's silly to change the look of iconic characters. The princesses so many dedicated Disney fans grew up with are the ones we want to see in the Parks. With all the other changes going on, they should at least keep the traditional looks of the princesses constant! Just my 2 cents :-)

Leave them the way they were. They looked a certain way in the cartoons and I think when little ones see them in real life they should look exactly like they are in the cartoons.

So if the princesses are changing their looks to be more "cultural" and more "real", are we going to see Mickey and Minnie dressed as actual mice? No clothes, no smiles, claws, covered fully in fur, no more voiced Mickey, no bow in Minnie's hair, on all fours, and with real mouse ears? I think not! That would go against what the artist's concept of Mickey and Minnie are and how we can distinguish those characters apart. So why would you change the visual concept of how we recognize other characters? If you want to be completely accurate, Pocahontas was a 12 year old girl being courted by a 28 year old John Smith. So either be 100% accurate or shut up and keep it the way it's portrayed in the movies we love.

Disney constantly cites "character integrity". This is constant when dealing with photography specifically (if you notice in wedding photos you cannot even have your champagne glass in your hand during photography with characters).

That being said, this "costume" is a huge misstep. It doesn't preserve the integrity of the character at all. In fact, it does the opposite. The fictional land she comes from has a "look" and this, isn't it.

This also doesn't match any place in real life either. People keep saying this "culturally appropriate" thing. WHERE have you seen anyone dressed like this, exactly?

Back to my point. Jasmine has several outfits throughout the Aladdin franchise. A more modest one is her purple, long sleeve, off the shoulder gown.

Instead of rewriting the character, they should have drawn from the existing clothing she wears if they wanted to cover her up a bit more.

The slippery slope of this is concerning. Ariel, and Tinkerbell particularly show a lot of skin. So what happens now? Is Ariel going to lose her fins and be relegated only to her gowns or blue dress?

The entire ideology behind this makes no sense. As you pointed out, FICTIONAL PLACE. Where the only "culturally appropriate" clothing has to do with whatever is depicted in the movie.

This, was NOT depicted in the movie. And, the bigger unfortunate with this.....

it looks like a generic "Arabian Nights Princess' costume from Party City. For 25.99.

Also, what's with the bangs at the center of the wig?

I think Disney has erred on this. She's been in that costume since she debuted in the parks... if this is a concern about men and not controlling themselves? Throw them out of the park. If this was some 'cultural sensitivity' thing, WHAT CULTURE?!?!?!? She's from a fake land.

I hope they go back and choose one of her actual wardrobe items from one of the movies. It's fine to update.

Disney needs to go back to "Character Integrity" Standards and preserve the integrity of the actual characters they created.

Parents, prepare to buy brand-new Jasmine dolls for your kids/collection, with the not-sold-separately new dress! Seriously, did you guys not see the dollar signs floating overhead? New costume=more money!

It's all about money and what sells, I read somewhere that jasmine and pocahontas were less marketable since they didn't have ball gowns. that's why they are either in the back of pictures or not always included. It's the ball gowns that sell. Personally I don't care and I love the original outfits. I actually have pictures of my daughter dressed like every single princess and posed with the character. I have pics of her in the same exact dress mulan was wearing and them bowing to each other for a traditional greeting. And I have her dressed like jasmine, although I bought the costume slightly bigger so her stomach wasn't to exposed. Little girls idolize these princesses and they know them from what they see in the movies. I also know first hand about the effects of changing the outfit when it comes to kids. In January 2016 they changed pocahontas outfit and my daughter was so disappointed bc she was dressed in the actual outfit from the disney store which matched the movie perfectly and pocahontas was in a plain tan dress with long sleeves some fringe with ugg boots. (It was actually the girl in the picture.) my daughter was confused at first but pocahontas stayed in character and my daughter promised to wear her dress again and go back so they could dress alike in summer. Children associate the characters by what they wear in the movies they shouldn't change their outfits and if they do not as drastically as jasmine new outfit.

Meanwhile Tarzan is struttin in a loin cloth at Animal Kingdom #doublestandards #smh

I grew up with Disney I don't believe they should be changing them. I think if they want to go forward and make the princesses more realistic and they should start making the film's more realistic and leave the classics alone.

I grew up with Disney I don't believe they should be changing them. I think if they want to go forward and make the princesses more realistic and they should start making the film's more realistic and leave the classics alone.

Last time I checked Saudia Arabia and Morocco were both on the continent of Africa.

You may want to check again, then since Saudi Arabia is in Asia, not Africa.

Nope, Saudi Arabia is definitely in Asia.

The new Jasmine costume is hideous. They could have made it slightly less revealing without going to this. Not that I think there was anything wrong with it previously, I loved her outfit! Epic fail Disney!

When I go to a Disney park I want to see the characters looking how they did and their respective animated films; It's pretty simple. while it's nice too change the costumes once in a while, remaining very accurate to the animated film representation should always remain as the goal of the redesign.

The real Pocohauntas was shaved bald with a thin ponytail and hefty, so unless they're going to alter features and hair too, I don't think the outfits effectively reflect the cultures.

FYI - if it has not already been mentioned in the comments these princess redesigns have been going on slowly for the last 2 years. Cinderella was one of the first to get a new look back in 2014 I believe. Belle, Aurora, Snow White and Ariel have been updated already. It seems that Pocahontas and Mulan were updated this year, with Jasmin being the most recent. Maybe they saved her for last because her change was so drastic!

Leave the Princesses alone and give the poor cast members some new updated costumes. Our first trip was in 2004, most recent this year. Minimal, if any change, in some of the costumes, especially for the food service cast members in resorts.

I am a woman and I'm very happy to see this change. I teach my daughter to dress modestly so I'm glad to see that Jasmine's midriff will be covered. I'm sure it's much more comfortable for the CMs as well. And by the way, I'd like to see all characters fully clothed, including Tarzan. A "no cleavage" rule would be great too. I believe in keeping all fruit in the loom.

I don't think there will be any more costume changes. The final three costume changes are just finishing what WDI started when they changed the costumes of the first five princesses. And all these redesigns are done to match the 2013 overhaul of the whole lineup. For instance, Pocahontas's new outfit matches exactly her 2013 drawing redesign, and Mulan's dress is the same except it's pink instead of green. Anyways, even though it makes the princesses unrecognizable, I find Mulan more "true Chinese" and less Korean looking in her last dress. And though Jasmine's new outfit is really hideous, I'm glad they actually spent the money to redesigning these princesses; that means they're planning to make them still have regular meet-n-greets. After all Pocahontas pretty much vanished till this redesign.

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