Disney pulls ‘brownface’ Moana costume

Online page for Moana costumeImage copyright

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The costume will not longer be available in stores or on the website

Disney has withdrawn a children’s costume promoting its upcoming movie Moana, after it was accused of cultural appropriation.

The costume, a full-body suit featuring brown skin, traditional tattoos, a grass skirt and bone necklace is for the character Maui – considered a demi-god and ancestor by many Polynesians.

Activists said it was promoting “brownface”.

Disney said it regretted the offence caused by the costume.

“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,” it said in a statement.

Media captionDisney’s Moana: Anger over ‘fat’ depiction of Polynesian demigod

“We sincerely apologise and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”

It’s not the first time Disney has offended Polynesians. When the trailer for the film released in June many on social media were offended by the depiction of Maui calling him “obese”.

A Pacific Islander view: Arieta Tegeilolo Talanoa Tora Rika

I understand the reasoning behind the grass skirt and the necklace, but the brown skin is too far, and the tattoos are culturally misappropriated.

Tattoos are deeply meaningful to Pacific people. Like a fingerprint, a tattoo is unique to each person.

Our markings tell a personal story that we carry with us on our skin, everywhere we go – constantly reminding us of our values, our people, and our identity.

It is considered taboo and extremely disrespectful in many Pacific cultures to wear the markings of a people or place that you are not spiritually or physically connected to.

After the release of Moana, Maui may be a Disney character to some, but to many Pacific people, he is very real – a hero, ancestor, demi-God and a spiritual guide.

Read More from Arieta Tegeilolo Talanoa Tora Rika

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