From the minute Disney announced the first African American princess movie, The Princess and the Frog, the buzz has been building. And so has the concern.
Disney’s history of racial sensitivity in their cartoons caused eyebrows to be raised early on, and understandably so — having waited this long to produce a film starring an African American princess, the pressure was on Disney to come correct. Every little detail of this particular princess will be analyzed, criticized, and committed to history. The film will open for an advance special engagement in New York and Los Angeles from November 25 to December 13 (click here for those special tickets), and will open nationwide December 11. I’m going to reserve judgment until I’ve seen the film itself. But in the meantime, allow me to unabashedly gush about what Disney’s already done right.
For super special The Princess and The Frog merchandise, Disney’s teamed with one of my favorite brands, Carol’s Daughter for a truly magical beauty collection.
Click here to sign up to be first to know about the Fall 2009 release of the Carol’s Daughter collection, starring Princess Tiana.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Carol’s Daughter creator Lisa Price, to get her feelings about this awesomeness. It was so inspiring to hear how this came about, and how this little company that could has managed to become part of Disney history. And to find out straight from Lisa herself, that her mother’s parents were from Trinidad? This Trini bella felt very proud all around.
How crazy has it been for Lisa? To go from making beauty products in her kitchen, to the shelves at Sephora, and now to doing official products for Disney’s first African American princess?
“Well, it was a big deal to hear that there was going to be an African American princess, period. And then to hear we were in the running to create products to go with the film, it’s like almost more than you want to think about. Like, seriously? Then there was so much work to do, you’re just focused on the work. Coming up with the fragrances and the design and making sure everything’s perfect…it wasn’t until I saw the labels on a board here at the office that it hit me – Disney and Carol’s Daughter. It would have brought tears to my eyes just to see an African American Disney princess, but then to be part of this, it’s been amazing.”
Lisa was particularly enthusastic about the opportunity, because Disney had been a part of her life as a child. She knew and understood the significance of Princess Tiana, to future generations of little black girls.
“Being someone who grew up with Disney movies, who loved Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, I loved the stories and the animation, but I didn’t know how to identify with them. I remember asking Santa to bring me long blonde hair like Cinderella’s. It wasn’t that I didn’t like myself, but I believed that that was what beauty was. That’s what a princess looked like. So its nice to know that little girls don’t have to feel that way if thy don’t look that way,” she said. And Lisa took the time to set me straight on an assumption I’d made from seeing the early sketches — “Tiana’s hair is actually textured – it s not straight. They have to be careful as well, with that particular depiction.”
Appropriately, the Carol’s Daughter products for The Princess and The Frog are beauty staples Princess Tiana would most likely use. “The Beauty Within” shampoo includes aloe leaf juice, “Inner Shine” conditioner uses sunflower seed, olive, and sweet almond oils. The “Dream Big” hair detangler is my favorite in terms of ingredients — glycerine, aloe, and castor oil would give my hair supreme slickability, and the “sharing means caring” bubble bath promised a delicious water lily-scented afternoon of decadence. But I struggled. Do I use this stuff, or do I keep the bottles in tact? The packaging is so adorable!
“I have the first ones in my office, and I love them,” says Lisa. She went on to explain how this princess movie will be different in more ways than one. “Disney teaches such wonderful lessons to children, and the story of Tianna is actually an inspiration. It’s about working hard. We see her putting work behind her dreams and passions to bring them to life, not just waiting for fortune to come her way. She’s empowered & takes charge of her destiny. I am very very proud and honored to be a part of this film,” she added.
The Princess and the Frog caps off a historic year in many ways — 2009 has been a banner year for black hair in the media. Michelle Obama’s every change in style makes headlines. Then we’ve got Chris Rock’s Good Hair also about to hit theaters, and Tyra Banks hosting Real Hair Day (which is apparently becoming a feel-my-scalp tour experience, as seen on Larry King the other night). Lisa agrees with me, black hair is having a big moment and this could be attributed to the Obama factor. “I think it has a lot to do with Michelle Obama – the media is always obsessed with first ladies, and it raises interesting questions & issues we haven’t seen before in the mainstream. Have you seen Good Hair yet? It’s awesome,” she added.
I shared my struggle with Lisa — to open or not to open? She didn’t make my decision any easier. “Well, its a beautiful bottle you want to keep and save because it’s a collectors item…but then when you get past that it’s a product that performs. We tested them not just on kids, but on adults, and these are pediatrician tested products that don’t include harsh detergents. We used a water lily accord fragrance, not too overpowering. So if mom wants to feel like a princess along with her daughter, she’ll like these products as well.”
I agree. I broke down and tried the bubble bath and the hair detangler. Both are winners!
The Princess and The Frog products will be available online Oct 1 — click here to sign up for the first updates about the items available for sale — there are four individual products, and a three-item gift set costs $24. Already I hear 10,000 people have signed up for info!
But this weekend only, I’m SO psyched to be able to offer Afrobella readers a special special SPECIAL giveaway! Carol’s Daughter is kindly offering to send THREE Magical Collection Gift Sets to Afrobella readers — open only to people in the continental USA.
All you have to do is tell me — what are your hopes for The Princess and The Frog? Do you plan to see this movie, December 11?
Because I know this giveaway will be greeted eagerly, I’m closing comments on Monday, by noon.
Good luck, bellas! Have a fabulous weekend!
** edited Monday September 28 at 12:41 CST — 49 comments! Alrighty bellas, I’m closing these now and will choose winners during the week. Thanks for entering, and good luck to all of you!