Disney Pulls ‘Moana’ Polynesian Costume Amid Claims It’s Offensive

Disney apologized on Wednesday and said it would be pulling a boy’s costume for a Polynesian character in the movie Moana, after backlash from Pacific Islanders who compared it to blackface.

The costume has a long-sleeved brown shirt and long pants decorated with full-body tattoos, and comes with a fake shark-tooth necklace and green-leaf skirt, so kids can dress up as Maui, a figure that looms large in Polynesian traditions.

Along with the Halloween costume, Disney’s online store had boy’s pajamas and a men’s T-shirt with a similar design, but those were also unavailable as of Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

“The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some,” the company said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”

One Native Hawaiian college student said the costume doesn’t honor or pay homage to a culture or person, but mocks it, instead, and plays into stereotypes.

“Polyface is Disney’s new version of blackface. Let’s call it like it is, people,” she said in a video posted on Facebook.

Many Pacific Islanders see Maui as an ancestor, dedicating temples to him and handing down stories about him trapping the sun, or pulling islands out of the ocean.

Tevita Kaili, a professor of cultural anthropology at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, told the AP he was happy Disney pulled the product. He notes that the stories about Maui are metaphors to how he discovered new islands during his ocean travels.

“For most of us in the Pacific, in Polynesia, we see Maui as an important ancestor to us — as a real person,” he said.

Disney pulls boy’s costume critics lambasted as ‘Polyface’ [Associated Press]