Why Moana Means So Much To Me

CHILD Mags’ youngest staff member, Daisy, writes a letter to her younger self to explain why Moana means so much more to her than any other Disney princess.

Dear seven-year-old me,

Last week I saw the trailer for Disney’s newest princess movie and it made me think of you.

It made me remember when you would play princesses with your friends; one would always be Belle, because she had dark hair and she loved books (you had dark hair and loved books too). Another would be Aurora – she wasn’t blonde, but her favourite colour was pink (yours was pink too). You were always Jasmine.

No one said why but you knew.

It made me think of how you always felt different. How you felt angry and helpless when your little brother, who had just started school, came crying to you because a kid called him ‘hash brown’. How you felt scared when your older cousin told you about how a different kid called her ‘burnt toast’. How you felt confused when your mum told you about people at work who didn’t want her help because she was ‘dirty’.

I just wanted to let you know that when you’re older, people will still ask you “No, but where are you really from?” when you tell them you’re from Australia. People will think they’re being nice when they say, “You’re not big like other Islander girls.” Or when they say, “It’s your Asian half!” when you get good grades and awards at school.

Sometimes, people you don’t even know will make rude comments to you. Boys will think they’re being nice when they tell you they love chocolate (you’ll understand this in a few years). Other times, people won’t even pretend to be nice – even if all you’re doing is sitting across from them on the train, trying to ignore the way they clutch their bags and literally hold their nose.

But I really want you to know that one day you’ll come to love your brown skin and the fact that it never burns. You’ll love your thick, wavy hair that you inherited from your proud, Polynesian grandma. You’ll even come to accept the moon cheeks you share with your South-East Asian grandma. You’ll realise that your success is a result of your hard work, not your blood. You’ll meet and surround yourself with people who value you. You’ll learn more about your heritage, your cultures and the countries your parents came from and you’ll be proud.

You’ll know that in your veins is a map of the world, with ancestors coming from Asia, Polynesia and Europe.

Then one day, you and your young nieces (yup, you’re an Aunty!)  will see the trailer of a movie about a little Polynesian princess. You’ll all be so excited as you see things you recognise from home… The music sounds familiar, her features almost mirror all of yours and even the patterns on their clothes and tattoos are the same as yours! Your nieces will forget about the girl who told them to take off the traditional dress they were wearing on Harmony Day. They’ll ask you and your sister to teach them a cultural dance. They’ll start saying “talofa”.

You’ll marvel at the fact that this all started from a Disney movie. And you’ll hope that this will be their first step of being proud of their culture too.

Love, Daisy.


Feature image by Carol Hu