Ever since the trailer for Disney's live-action version of The Little Mermaid was released, it has been making waves on social media. Specifically among little Black girls, who marveled at the first look of a little mermaid who looks just like them. Singer and actress Halle Bailey plays the new Princess Ariel in the remake, making her the first Black woman to portray the Disney princess. While the movie’s release isn’t until 2023, Bailey has already made an incredible impact.
Since the Disney’s first teaser trailer dropped on Sept. 9, videos have been circulating across TikTok and Twitter showing “blind reactions” to young Black girls seeing the live-action trailer for the first time, which includes a short glimpse of Bailey as Ariel underwater, singing the song, “Part of Your World.” Reactions have ranged from complete shock to pure awe and excitement.
And despite the constant racism and ignorance that has circulated around Bailey since it was announced that she will play the Disney princess, many are choosing to focus on the positivity of this moment. As one Twitter user shared in her own viral thread, writing, “As I stroll on TikTok, I keep seeing parents video their children reacting to The Little Mermaid trailer. So instead of focusing so much on the negative, I thought I’d show a thread of the little black kids who are excited to see their favorite princess look like them.” Facts.
TikTok user @nickyknackpaddywack, for instance, shared a video of her daughter watching the trailer, her eyes glued to the TV. “Mommy! She's Brown like me,” the young girl tells her mother.
TikTok user @jendayis682 filmed her daughter watching the trailer and her reaction was just beautiful. “She’s Black! She looks so pretty,” her daughter excitedly says when she sees Bailey, then asks her mom, “Is Ariel actually Black?” Her mom responds, “In this Little Mermaid she will be!”
“Do you understand how it feels for our babies to see themselves in the fairy tales that the world said wasn't made for them,” @jendayis682 wrote in the caption of her viral TikTok video. “Say what you want and complain all you want ... I hear nothing over the joy and excitement that this little girl has overseeing a person that represents her.”
Digital strategist and consultant Leslie Mac created an entire Twitter thread showcasing a bunch of little Black girls’ reactions to Bailey as Ariel because, as she put it, “we could all use this joy [right now].”
The compilation of the videos even managed to get the attention of Ariel herself! “People have been sending these reactions to me all weekend and i’m in truly in awe this means the world to me,” Bailey tweeted on Sept. 12.
In a recent interview with Variety, Bailey spoke about the cultural impact her role in The Little Mermaid has had. “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,” Bailey told Variety for its 2022 Power of Young Hollywood issue.
The live-action depiction of The Little Mermaid premieres in theaters on May 26, 2023 and you can bet these little girls will be there.