Company | The new little mermaid inspires young African American women

She looks just like me. “She has pigtails like me.” Videos of emotional little African American girls staring wide-eyed at the first images of the “new Ariel” have gone viral on social media in recent days.

Posted at 6:00 am

Laila Maalouf

Laila Maalouf
The press

African-American actress and singer Halle Bailey, who portrays the character in Disney’s new adaptation of The little mermaid (scheduled for May 2023) herself tweeted that she shed a few tears when she saw the video of a little black girl gleefully discovering the trailer of her performing the song part of your world.

“We offer these little girls the opportunity to dream, to imagine that they too can be princesses, unique,” emphasizes psychopedagogue and professor Marie-Claire Sancho.

She emphasizes the importance of offering young people models they can identify with, both in cult films and in the media. “I remember the first little black girl in a Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog ; after that there were none. »


Marie-Claire Sancho, Doctor of Educational Psychology and Professor

When a black or arab little girl is portrayed positively in the media and in films, it has a direct impact on her self-esteem and the image she has of her collective identity. So if we only show little blonde girls with blue eyes, there is no identification and the intrinsic motivation – “I want to be like that” – is not there.

Marie-Claire Sancho, Doctor of Educational Psychology and Professor

A “capital” representativeness

Marketing professor at the University of Ottawa, Myriam Brouard, also considers representativeness in media and films to be “crucial”. “You start developing your self-image from a very young age, and the things you are exposed to play a big part in your development. »

“The lack of representation means that people cannot introduce themselves in certain situations, for example in relation to employment. When you watch a film, you talk about fantasy, so it’s even more important to be able to put yourself in imaginary worlds,” says Myriam Brouard.

“Imagination is very important in early childhood. It is a time when children’s imagination, creativity will forge them, train them, crystallize their self-esteem and desires,” adds the DD Marie Claire Sancho. Identifying with someone also motivates you to look up to them as a role model, she says. “It’s a form of visualization. Once you identify yourself, it’s like saying, “I can do that too.” »

These little girls, who recognize themselves in Ariel’s facial features, also feel their collective esteem is strengthened, according to them, as their pride in the group to which they belong is increased.

Myriam Brouard adds that having different types of representation is all the more important, especially in non-support roles. “Often we see a family of sorts, a child of sorts … It’s really important to be able to vary to be able to represent reality — and the reality is that we have a lot of diversity in Quebec, in Canada and in the United States.” , and it should be put forward. »

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