Disney Under Fire over ‘Moana’ Halloween Costume: ‘Basically Full-Body Brownface for Kids’


Disney found itself at the center of another controversy this week after fans took to social media to complain that a Halloween costume based on one of the studio’s upcoming animated films appropriates Polynesian culture and is “basically full-body brownface for kids.”

The furor began last week, when Disney’s online store began selling a costume based on its upcoming film Moana, which features the company’s first-ever Polynesian princess.

The costume, based on Dwayne Johnson’s Polynesian god character Maui from the film, features a full=body suit complete with “the demigod’s signature tattoos, rope necklace and island-style skirt.”



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Disney Store

The backlash came swiftly on social media, with many accusing Disney of “appropriating” Pacific Islander culture. The film has already been accused of making Johnson’s character morbidly obese.

Fusion’s Charles Pulliam-Moore called the costume “seriously misguided” and “basically full-body brownface for kids.”

“While there were a handful of people who didn’t see what all the fuss was about concerning the costume, a number of decidedly more woke folks didn’t hesitate to explain how literally inviting children to wear the skin of a character of color (let alone a religious figure) was offensive as hell,” Pulliam-Moore wrote.

As of Tuesday morning, the company hadn’t removed the item from its online store. The Disney story also sells other Moana-related costume apparel, including costume wigs and light-up toy fish hooks. The film is expected to be released on November 23.

This is hardly the first time that a Halloween costume has cause outrage online. Last year, an online costume retailer was forced to remove a “Call Me Caitlyn [Jenner] Unisex Costume” after facing similar online criticism.

In October of last year, two schools banned a student’s mariachi-themed costume on grounds that it represented “cultural appropriation,” even though the student himself was of Hispanic descent.


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum