These are my extremely quick “fan” made designs for the upcoming Disney movie “Moana”.
Stop. There is a reason why “fan” is in quotations.
I am not a fan. I am full of dread. Disney is about to tackle a Polynesian princess and that terrifies me.
For one, I am so angry at all of the fanmade designs I have seen. The sexy stereotyped Polynesian designs that somehow condenses hundreds of different cultures into a tube top and a a ti-leaf skirt.
Do you have any idea how offensive that is. That would be like making Mulan and saying “Hey she’s Asian, let’s throw her in a yukata”. Do you know how offensive it is that people think that Polynesian is a singular race? Hint: Massively.
I picked four cultures out of the vastness of Polynesia and each design is clearly different from the next. Each design is 100% endemic to the culture it is from, and it’s not even the tip of the iceberg.
We are not a homogenized area of the world. We have different languages, traditions, and ways of life. We are not all the same. We are not coconut bras and grass skirts. We never needed compasses. We are celestial navigators - it hasn’t died out. We journeyed across the Pacific using the stars and waves to guide us. We perfected aquaculture and sustainable living. Our heritages are rich and varied and beautiful.
We are not a tube top and a ti-leaf skirt. We are not an indistinguishable fabric swathed on brown bodies with random flowers in our hair. Stop fetishizing us! You have the internet at your discretion, and this is the best you can come up with?
Secondly, the fact that Moana will be dealing with mythology in Polynesia makes me want to crumple up and cry. It angers me to no end that people keep playing fast and loose with things they think are obsolete. Most of us still believe in our Gods (myself included). My family has a heiau, as recent as one generation ago my family has stories of conversing with Gods. Yet, people act like it’s fair game. Last I checked if anyone made retcons to the undead carpenter millions threw a shitfit, but because we are a marginalized people our beliefs are not allowed some respect?
It makes me angry and I won’t apologize for it. It makes me angry that when I call out other minorities for falsely portraying or marginalizing my culture (and the cultures of my fellow Polynesians) I get the “well I’m a minority too so I’m excused”. That is the worst offense, when people who should know better still treat you like an obsolete toy to be bandied about as characters.
We are indigenous people and we deserve respect. We deserve for people to care about our culture. For people to be afraid that the nightmare which created whitewashed Pocahontas might happen to us. If you call yourself an ally, or self-aware, I demand that you fear for us. I beg that you question what may happen in the wake of what Disney has been spewing out. Don’t be part of the base that turns Moana into nothing more than a token.
We were too young to stop Pocahontas from being made. We are not too young to afflict a change and prevent it from happening again. Signal boost my words, or write your own. Do something. Don’t let a movie go out across the world that could damage those that have already taken heavy hits. Don’t be compliant, don’t be silent. Don’t DO that I beg you. I am begging you on my knees, I grovel to you.
Don’t condense our cultures to an easy stereotype. Don’t let our stories become distorted for entertainment. Fight for good writing, fight for good designs. Fight for a movie you would be proud to watch. Give us something more than a rebellious teen who is Polynesian simply because they say she is.
Please. Please. With all my heart, a’ohe hana nui ka alu’ia. No task is too big when done together.
P.S. The tattoo I did on the Samoan design is fairly incorrect. I ran it by some of my Samoan friends and while they gave me the all-clear, I should have done a better job (basically I should have asked their parents).
Traditionally, a Samoan woman would not have a shoulder tattoo or anything resembling a sleeve. She would, more than likely, have a malu tattoo on her thighs. I am so sincerely sorry. I thought I had my resources in order, and I didn’t. I am thoroughly ashamed and I beg forgiveness from any Samoans I may have accidentally insulted.