Polynesian-themed getup has been compared to blackface
Credit: Disney

Disney will no longer sell a children’s costume depicting a Polynesian character from the upcoming animated film Moana after it has drawn accusations of cultural misappropriation and comparisons to blackface.

Depicting Maui, a hero of Polynesian mythology who is voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the movie, the zip-up brown garment features full-body tattoos, padded muscles, a leaf skirt, and a shark-tooth necklace. It was complemented by a wig of black hair and a light-up fishhook, both sold separately.

Many Pacific Islanders took offense at the costume, denouncing it as “Polyface” and ultimately prompting Disney to remove the item from its stores.

“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 Wednesday. “We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”

Scheduled for release in November and set 2,000 years ago in the South Pacific, Moana is the story of the titular 16-year-old girl, voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who seeks out a banished demigod (Johnson) on a quest to save her people.

In recent months the film has been lambasted for fat-shaming Polynesians as well, but also lauded for its diversity, feminism, and depiction of a Disney princess with a more realistic body shape.

See a screenshot of the controversial Moana costume below.

Credit: Disney
  • Movie
  • 103 minutes