Lauren McCarthy takes a look at the controversial change in Disney Princess Jasmine’s Costume.
“Feminists force Disney to change Princess Costumes”, “People wondering whether Disney will do Burkas next,” and “Disney Sells Out To Islam, Princess Jasmine’s New LOOK Pisses Fans Off” are only some of the online headlines regarding Disney World’s redesign of Aladdin’s Jasmine. Despite that the Disney classic was released close to quarter of a century ago, diehard fans are clearly outraged by the iconic Princess’ new garb. Jasmine’s costume was seen first by those attending Mickey’s Not-So- Scary Halloween Party in early September, where she stepped out wearing an outfit that covered her neck to her ankles, in lieu of her usual midriff baring number. No one can deny that the new costume is startlingly different to the former. High necked with long chiffon sleeves ending in gold cuffs, it’s the exact opposite of what we are accustomed to seeing the Princess of Agrabah wear. They’ve gone a step further with the intricate embellishments, her gold waist band now featuring the face of her pet tiger, Rajah. She is still quintessentially Jasmine however, with her iconic voluptuous ponytail and her large jewelled head piece. The colour scheme of her outfit has also been maintained, though some argue that the new shade of blue is dull and doesn’t photograph as strikingly as the old one did. Unsurprisingly the internet has showcased its array of opinions on the topic and wasn’t long breaking down potential reasons for this overhaul.
- Many people are claiming that Jasmine’s new outfit is as a result of feminist’s complaints that her old outfit is too sexualised. It’s easy to see the logic, considering this is a character who is supposed to inspire and encourage young girls to live their dreams and to not let anyone stop you from achieving what you want in life, even if that involves escaping a luxurious palace and marrying a street thief. Her outfit doesn’t evoke the stereotypical ‘princess’ aesthetic that you may think of, which is good in one way –Princess Jasmine is the only Disney Princess to wear pants after all. However young girls wanting to wear such a revealing costume, and in turn achieve Jasmine’s impossible waistline in order to be a ‘princess’ is a bit unnerving. Arguments have emerged saying the same could be said for Ariel, but as a fish/human hybrid, I’ll let her off the hook this time.
- Middle Eastern Dress. Others allege that the overhaul is so Jasmine’s costume is a better representation of traditional Middle Eastern costume, which would favour a more conservative outfit. This area is so grey however, considering that the movie is set in the fictional city of Agrabah, on the River Jordan, the original folk tale is set in Islamic China, and the Sultan’s Palace is inspired by the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Even on the Disney World website it states you can meet Aladdin and Jasmine in the Moroccan Marketplace, ‘a locale similar in some ways to their native Agrabah.’ Clearly Jasmine is not from one particular time period or culture. She is merely inspired by a melange of cultures, but is not indicative of any one. Some have called her out on being a ‘western fantasy of the Middle East’, while others are asking them to chill out, she’s just a cartoon. After all, it is hot in the desert. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be in your bikini getting your tan on?
- That’s right. The change may not be as political as it may seem. Rumours that the actress playing Jasmine was subject to people’s comments about her body was surely not welcome in the workplace. You can’t forget that this is someone’s job and feeling genuinely uncomfortable is not how a Disney Princess ought to be treated.
- Just a redesign. It’s not as if Jasmine is the only Disney Princess to have their outfit changed up. Back in May Mulan and Pocahontas were the first of the crew to receive a total outfit makeover. Both Princesses received new costumes that differed from those of their animated counter parts. While their outfits are a change, they aren’t quite as drastically different as Jasmine’s. Disney wants to make money and if they can do so by revamping their look and maybe even creating a little controversy, good on their PR. A brand needs to grow. Aladdin also got a makeover, his grotty street clothes replaced by dazzling robes that look infinitely more regal. Together, Aladdin and Jasmine look the epitome of royalty, and that could be exactly the reason for the change. By now they’ve been together 24 years, they’re mature rulers of Agrabah. Nobody wants to be stuck in the same outfit they wore as a hormonal 15 year old.
It’s certainly an interesting one, something that reveals how the world seems to be still so invested in the lives of these characters. I can’t even deny feeling a bit envious seeing photographs of kids beaming and laughing with Aladdin and Jasmine. I’m sure there are plenty of other 20 year old children who, like me, would still jump at the chance to visit Disney World, regardless of a minor costume adjustment. But for now, I’ll just have to watch the magic of my childhood from (J)afar.