SALT LAKE CITY – After cries of racial insensitivity, Disney announced Wednesday they are pulling the Maui character costume from their website.
The company apologized in a statement, saying they regret offending some with the outfit and that they take great care to respect the culture of the Pacific that inspired the film.
This Thanksgiving, audiences will meet Disney’s first Polynesian princess, Moana. The teenage girl sails the South Pacific in search of Maui, who is a demi-god voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
With all the buzz surrounding the animated film, Disney rolled out a new costume online just in time for Halloween. Kids can dress up like the character, Maui. The $45 full-body children’s suit included a grass skirt, rope necklace, and brown skin covered with tattoos.
The costume made the rounds on social media, with many accusing Disney of crossing the line and comparing it to a version of Blackface.
In one tweet it said: “Our brown skin is not a costume.”
Another tweet said: “The Pe’a is a sacred tattoo and selling a costume of it is offensive to Samoan and other PI cultures. Not ok!"
“There are appropriate ways to imitate Maui the Demi God,” said Kamaile Harris, a Pacific Islander advocate and teacher at Pacific Heritage Academy.
Kids take pride in their ancestor Maui and honor him with a statue that stands in the school’s lobby.
“He is our mascot, and all of our kids, we consider ourselves voyagers,” Harris said.
Harris says the suit is in poor taste.
“One issue I have about the suit is that people don't know about our culture to really wear it appropriately and revere it for what it's worth," she said.
While she’s looking forward to watching the highly anticipated film, which includes contributions from Polynesian actors, animators and musicians, she’s disappointed Disney didn’t put more thought into the costume.
“I know Dr. Who fans who won't even let you wear the Cosplay if you don't know all the doctors, so, everybody has their limits on their culture and tradition being imitated,” Harris said.