Y’all, I just have to get this off my chest:
My mother is full-blooded Hawaiian, and my father is the whitest man I know. My sister and I are both, respectively, half Hawaiian. We both have the thick, black, curly hair; the gold-toned skin; the big Hawaiian nose; we’ve been taught the folklore and some of the language…so when I saw that Moana was coming out, my heart filled with so much joy, I cried. When I saw the movie, I wept the entire time. FINALLY, a Polynesian princess (and I have to repeat that: POLYNESIAN princess, not just Hawaiian). However, there was this looming dread at the fact that this amazing cultural movie about my people was finally happening. And gotdamn wouldn’t you know I was right to be scared?
While it fills me with so much happiness to see people love this movie, y’all gotta stop trying to make Moana look like every other disney princess because she ain’t. I respect artists and I understand that there is some leeway in the way you draw, but stop taking away what makes her Polynesian for the sake of your aesthetic. Please. I am begging you. Stop taking away her big beautiful wide nose. Stop taking away her dark golden-undertoned skin. Stop taking away her voluminous, curly, DARK hair. Please just stop. I have waited my entire life to see someone who looks JUST LIKE ME be important in media, and now y’all taking away what makes her Polynesian? Are you serious?
And another thing: Moana is about the Polynesian people, and all their diversities. The people on Moana’s island are not all one type of Polynesian people (i.e. Maori, Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan etc.) , they make up all of us. This movie mixes demi-gods and goddesses and folklores from all of our societies, and shows how truly diverse, magical, and sacred all of our cultures are. Please do not act as if you know everything about Poly cultures just from seeing this movie, and do not think that because this movie is out it gives free range for you to have lu’au or wear those cheap grass skirts and flower crowns; LEARN your Polynesian cultures. With this movie becoming influential and important, please let it remind you to be respectful of all Polynesian culture and to educate yourself on all the wonders our different cultures have to offer. Give this space to those of us who are finally having representation and finally get to enjoy our culture being on the big screen for everyone to enjoy and become a part of.
E pili mau na pomaika`i ia `oe (May blessings ever be with you)