“Maui Costume for Kids - Disney Moana”
 $44.95 - $49.95
“Your little one will set off on adventures in this Maui Costume featuring the demigod’s signature tattoos, rope necklace and island-style skirt.”
: : source : : 

Ok we’ll get to this costume in a minute…

First, some genuine kudos to the production team of Moana, out later this year. They appear to hit the mark on some key points:

  • The story calls attention to the South Pacific region with a princess who needs to “save her family from annihilation.” Islands in this area are desperate to address the climate crisis, and need more advocacy in the media. (Here’s one of many case studies).
  • Accuracy & Inclusion - Tattoo historians, anthropologists and island elders, called “The Oceanic Story Trust,” were key advisors throughout.
  • Writer Taika Waititi has Maori heritage. Hollywood tells a lot of stories about people of color without input from the groups they represent, so Taika’s involvement is a win.
  • Composer Opetaia Foa'i is a Samoan native. He brings instruments from the region, with songs written in Samoan and Tuvaluan languages. 
  • Actors Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Temuera Morrison : Cravalho is a Hawaiian native, Morrison is Maori, and Johnson is of Samoan descent, with traditional pe’a tattoos.
    (Ok Hawaii is in the North Pacific, but Disney’s still come a long way since JTT and Jeremy Irons played East African characters.) 

Now for the costume and the brownface of it all…

“Culture as Costume” is never a good thing for humans to do to each other, and “Skin as Costume” has a history of mocking and dehumanizing people of color.

That said, free speech is important and ignorance is legal. 

The bigger issue here is Corporate Colonialism. Disney is mass-producing brown, tattooed, South Pacific skin suits. A giant company is (literally) profiting off the backs of less powerful minorities, commercializing sacred tattoo practices, and not a dime of it goes back to support the region. 

As mentioned above, these people are in crisis. They are also outnumbered. To plunder from them without compensation or political advocacy is to perpetuate colonialism. 

Disney does have the right to try anything they can to turn a profit on this film. As mindful consumers, though, it’s on us to put away our wallets and speak up.

TLDR: See the movie if you want, but boycott the merch.
• • •
Comments are open, opinions are welcome.
Thanks so much for reading, being interested and engaged.
With love,
Morgan @tattrx​