Disney Pulls ‘Offensive’ Moana Costume Over ‘Brown Face’ Controversy

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By Nahema Marchal | 12:29 pm, September 22, 2016

Another day, another batch of freshly manufactured outrage. Disney on Thursday announced it would pull from the shelves a Halloween costume based on Maui — a key character from its new movie Moana about an eponymous young Polynesian princess — after accusations of racism and cultural appropriation.

The costume features a skirt made of green leaves, a full length brown body suit covered in traditional Polynesian tattoos, and a bone necklace.

Moana costume

But as it often the case with these ‘ethnic’ costumes, the garb was not to everyone’s liking.

One Pacific vlogger in particular, Chelsie Haunani Fairchild, who identifies as Polynesian, found the costume extremely problematic, citing it as yet another example of ubiquitous cultural appropriation.

“You’re literally letting children pretending to be Polynesian — an indigenous fucking culture race! [..] My people’s skin on your children and thinking that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this? […] It’s disgusting” she said in a YouTube video.


Other activists compared it to the offensive “black face” theatrical make-up worn in the late 19th century by white performers to depict a black person in minstrel shows.

Disney issued an apology for the offense caused and announced it would take the costume off the shelf.

“The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some,” Disney said in a statement.

This is not the first time the movie, which tells the story of a young girl named Moana on a mission to find a mysterious island and save her people, has caused controversy. This summer, it already drew criticism from a New Zealand MP of Polynesian descent, for supposedly misrepresenting (read: blowing the proportions of) barrel-chested demi God Maui, thus perpetrating negative stereotypes of Pacific islanders.