Tiana

I like Charlotte more and I very much want to write about he too, but the official princesses first. Some pictures from Disney Wiki.

Who she is

Tiana is the Princess from the Princess and the Frog. She comes from a humble background, but she is determined to get fulfil her and her late father’s dream about owning a restaurant, so she works all the time to get the money to get enough money for it, to the point where her friends and family worry that she works too much and never gets to have any fun. Things change when the spoiled prince Naveen appears and gets them both turned into a frog. Then Tiana and Naveen must work together to turn back into human, and during their adventures in the swamp they learn a lot from each other.

tiana_hello

Appearance

Tiana has an okay character design. Not going to call her face my favourite out of the Disney Princesses because it’s not that memorable, but her nose being larger than your usual Disney female helps a lot, and I also like her eyes. Also, her dimples are great and add a lot of personality. Her hair is not very interesting, but I guess we already have tons of ladies with long flowy locks so it’s ok. Hairstyle from Facilier’s illusion is pretty nice.

tiana

Tiana has the most outfits out of all Disney Princesses (at least in the main movie, I don’t know what happens if you count sequel outfits for the characters who have sequels). For someone like me who is interested in the characters’ clothes and who finds it jarring if characters always wear the same thing it is extremely pleasant. It does give the little problem that since she changes clothes so often (and spends a lot of time as a frog) many of them are pretty plain and forgettable.

tiana_outfits

The iconic lily pad dress is on screen for like less than a minute, so it feels a bit like it’s shoehorned in for the sake of selling glittery dolls to little girls. I do like the leafy design and fresh colourscheme a lot though, and it’s certainly different from the other princess dresses.

Then there’s the frog design, and… I don’t really have much to say about it design-wise. It’s a cartoon frog alright. The idea that the princess too turns into a frog when trying to kiss the frog prince back into a human was great though.

Tiana is so recent a character that the redesigns didn’t do much for her. This is probably the only case where I don’t outright hate the added sparkles, because 1) they’re not everywhere, and 2) the dew drop idea actually makes some sense in the context of the magical lily pad dress.

tiana_redesign

Why I don’t like her

There is this big elephant in the room that is her status as the first black Disney Princess. I’d have tons of stuff to say about the discussion regarding the topic, but that’s not the focus here so nothing on that. Personally I’m trying to stay away from that discussion as much as possible and treat her just as a character rather than THE BLACK character, but there is one thing where the meta stuff regarding her race is too disruptive for me to ignore. And that is what her flaw and character arc are.

Because really, isn’t “too hard-working and goal-oriented” like one of the most ‘positive’ flaws out there? And while the story acknowledges that this is a problem it’s still not nearly as extreme as it could be, as she’s shown to have at least some friends. If the story had shown us more about how the overworking affects her I would not have had as much problem with it.

tiana_tired

To me it’s kind of hard not to see how carefully the character has been built so that she’d have a flaw in the first place but one that wouldn’t anger tumblr social justice warriors type groups. And it does make the watching experience a bit jarring if I feel like the filmmakers have to walk on eggshells all the time. Even as she is now I’ve seen plenty of complaints how it’s racist that her face is just a palette swap of a white girl, or how it’s racist how her face is too much of a stereotypical black face, or how that her white friend gets too much attention, or how she is of lower status than her white friend, or how she spends too much time as a frog, and so on. I’m pretty sure that if she was dumb and selfish like Merida or Ariel, or naive like Rapunzel, or insecure like Elsa there would have been at least some level of outrage on how Disney is supposedly making a racist statement how she’s dumb or insecure because of her race or something like that.

I also have another problem unrelated to her race with her ambitious attitude. I do not like how many of the early Disney princesses take little action to achieve their happy ending. So a character who does is obviously a good thing. However, does it really have to be this in-your-face? I also like seeing female characters who are involved in non-feminine stuff, but I do not like it if you need to have some Gaston or matchmaker woman strawmanning about what they think a woman’s place is, and our heroine showing how wrong they are with her GIRL POWER YEAH GIRLS CAN READ AND HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE MARRIAGE TOO!!! It’s great that we have a character who is in charge of her own future, but a whole movie about “OKAY we’ve had some pretty passive heroines in the past, but guess what, THIS ONE IS SO HARD WORKER THAT YOU WON’T EVEN BELIEVE IT!”? I think I’d rather just have a character who doesn’t passively sit and wait for miracles to happen without making a huge show about it.

tiana_wishing

Princess and the Frog has yet again one of these Disney’s instant romances, and it doesn’t work too well this time either. Sure it’s better than many of the previous romances in that the couple has believable chemistry and both characters learn something from the relationship, but the insta-romance feels pretty misplaced in a movie that touts such a matter-of-fact attitude otherwise. Tiana and Naveen being complete opposites yet still getting married within two days of meeting is a bit difficult to believe.

And then there’s the ending of the movie. I do not have any feminist issues with her choosing to stay as a frog with Naveen and give up on her restaurant other than the relationship developing far too fast; I don’t see anything wrong per se with prioritising human relationships over her restaurant. What bothers me a bit more is that sometimes it feels a bit like the movie was saying that there is something wrong with her not being interested in a relationship right now. It’s supposed to be the second coming of the classic Disney Princess movies alright so the romance is pretty inevitable, but it would have been a lot cooler if she had found a purpose outside working from something else than a relationship.

tiana_ending

Overall I think Tiana is an okay character, and despite the length of the complaints section I don’t really have that much of a problem with her. Even if I used a lot of words to describe them, most of my issues are fairly minor and in the end her biggest setback is that while I think that her good qualities outweigh her problems by a large margin, I just don’t find her that interesting. Maybe having more of the element of fun would have helped?

Why I do like her

Writing about why I like Tiana turned out to be surprisingly difficult. I do like her and I think she’s a good character, but why? On one hand I say it’s annoying how blatant the movie is about her being a total opposite of her predecessors, but at the same time… many of the reasons why I do like her come from the fact that she’s different from the other dreamer princesses. Anyway, let’s just give credit when credit is due, even if I wished the movie was a “little bit” more subtle. It’s not Tiana’s fault that many of the previous princesses kinda sucked, and it IS a good thing that she is unlike them.

While I’m not a fan of how it’s portrayed, being a workaholic does make for an interesting flaw and one I don’t remember seeing in any other movie (and obviously having a plan and working actively to achieve the goal should be something, like, any of the characters should have anyway. It really shouldn’t be too difficult to give now the main character an agenda in the plot should it?).

Tiana has a great dream. Most of the other Disney Princesses either dream of romance or this vague “more” or “different”, and even Rapunzel’s dream of seeing flying lanterns was pretty much a cutesy fairytale too. So someone having a specific and “normal” and not fluffy and glittery dream really stands out.

tiana's_palace

I also like how Tiana’s problems are more “mature” and realistic (until she turns into a frog at least). Working in multiple jobs to raise enough money to start your own business is a very welcome change to the usual BAD GUY IS BAAAD AND FANTASY POWERS RUN AMOK or the like, even if it turns to that at the end.

Also, while you can argue that her race and gender are a factor, ultimately her issues come from her self, not from other people being mean or stupid (hello Belle. And many others). Sure, there are doubters and in the end she is mysteriously “outbid” at the last minute when previously apparently nobody had any interest in buying the old mill she was planning to use for her restaurant, but the issues regarding overworking and not having any fun come from her own personal decision to work for the restaurant, which she knows to cost a lot. There is the passing mention on how “a little woman of [her] background … woulda had a hands full, trying to run a big business like that”, but that’s exactly what it is, a passing mention, and the focus of the story is still on Tiana’s work and not yet again a the tale of the progressive outcast not fitting in and fighting against the evil rules of society. Because we’ve had a ton of those, off the top of my head I can name like 20 movies with a theme like that.

Personality-wise I like Tiana a lot. Her no-nonsense attitude is a lot closer to the cynical nerd that I am, and I find it a lot easier to relate to her than the free-spirited dreamers.

Tiana has a female friend, which is cool, but sadly pretty rare in Disney movies (or any movies not directly aimed at girl-only audience?) Even better, her friend is actually relevant to the plot and not just some random person who hangs out with the main character every once in a while.

tiana_charlotte

Since it’s not a norm in the Disney Princess franchise, it should be mentioned that Tiana defeats her villain herself, learns from her flaws and changes as a person (in case it wasn’t clear already). And, as much as I didn’t like the unsubtle way the movie handled the “just wishing isn’t enough, you have to work yourself” message, I’m still very much behind the moral both in real life and as a part of a fictive story.

Palace Pets

As of now Tiana has two Palace Pets, a cat named Lily and a pony named Bayou (AGAIN with the ponies…).

tianaPets

First the cat. Why does it have such panda eyes? I had trouble recognising it as a cat in the first place. Also, what is it with the stupid tails on Palace Pets cats? Ariel’s cat had a similar tail, and I didn’t like it any better (or actually I think Ariel’s cat has a worse tail). Also, where the heck does the purple colour come from? None of Tiana’s outfits have any purple in them.

Then the pony. For starters, why is there no full body pic of it available? The cropped shot has been around for months. Then, Like Snow White’s pony, Tiana’s is a trace as well, this time from Rapunzel’s pony. Seriously, what is so difficult about drawing more than four different pony poses? My Little Pony does it all the time.

Overall I find Tiana’s pets poorly designed, because they somehow feel like mish-mashes of random ideas rather than a well thought design where different areas support each other. Also the colours make very little sense, the purple comes from nowhere and while the lily pad dress has a lot of yellow, it’s still not the colour I primarily associate with Tiana. Also, I find it incredibly difficult to recognise them as Tiana’s pets because Tiana’s hair isn’t particularly memorable and the colours don’t help either; the only giveaway to me is the leaf decorations. And even if I find it pretty dumb, since the thing with the Palace Pets is that they’re somehow animal clones of their owners I do hold it against them if I can’t associate them with their princess.

If I had to say something good about these things, at least they don’t feel as offensively overdecorated as some of the other pets. Maybe it’s because of the lack of metal jewelry or having a less neon colour colourscheme.

Gallery

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Pixiv links that require a Pixiv account to be viewed properly:

tiana13

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3 Responses to “Tiana”

  1. quaneahquapaw Says:

    “Her hair is not very interesting”, why? That is how African American hair tends to look and I thought they did a splendid job not white washing her like animation companies usually do. Just because she doesn’t have long, flowing hair doesn’t mean her hair isn’t “interesting”.

    • Hapuriainen Says:

      As far as I know there is no objective standard on what everyone is supposed to consider interesting. There are plenty of fun hairstyles for shorter hair, but none of the ones Tiana has does anything for me.

  2. ivyrival Says:

    Very intresting

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