By now there are probably countless interpretations of Disney princesses floating around out there. For instance, we’ve already seen The Little Mermaid’s Ariel as a Brooklyn hipster and as a mermaid covered in toxic waste dumped in the ocean. Despite being a little fatigued by all the Disney princess reinterpretations out there even I couldn’t help but find these drawings by an artist named Julia AKA Juliajm15 refreshing.
Julia created drawings of Anna and Elsa, everyone’s favorite royal sisters from the movie Frozen, that imagined them as women of African descent and posted them to her Tumblr. A drawing of Elsa as a black woman in her ice princess “Let It Go” regalia garnered over 84,000 notes on Tumblr as of this writing. A drawing of both sisters received 35,000 notes.
As Buzzfeed pointed out, Julia got positive feedback on the pictures with one Tumblr user saying that her baby cousin was “obsessed” with “black Elsa” ever since she showed it to her. One of the reasons I’m here for Julia’s drawings is because they promote diversity and challenge us to stretch our imaginations.
As writer Alanna Bennet wrote in a Buzzfeed post, this kind of “racebending” can enable us to stop “seeing white as the default for fictional characters.” In the post Alanna unpacks her appreciation for representations of Hermione Granger as black. She says that while she could relate to the prejudice Hermione faced for being “muggle-born,” she could never picture herself as Hermione. That is until artists on Tumblr like Julia took the “subtext” of Hermione as a girl with “bushy” hair from a marginalized group of people to the forefront.
This kind of art is the opposite of erasure and that’s what is so great about them. People, especially women of color need to see themselves centered in visible stories. They need to see themselves as the dynamic, complex people that pop culture keeps telling them that they aren’t.
Now all I need is for Disney to release a short film based on Julia’s drawings and I’ll be set.