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Disney had a racially diverse (and deaf) mermaid long before Halle Bailey's 'controversial' casting

Even 30 years ago, not all mermaids looked the same.

disney, disney plus, mermaid

A real talk about fictional mermaids is apparently needed.

Fellow millennials, do you remember that glorious time period in the early '90s when our favorite Disney movies had their own cartoon series? They even had some pretty Marvel-worthy crossovers, like when Hercules ended up meeting Jafar and Aladdin had a run-in with Hades in the same episode. Good times.

“The Little Mermaid” was included in this movie-turned-series line-up. And during its run, the spin-off show introduced Gabriela, a racially diverse and deaf mermaid. Yes, as it turns out—Disney has always imagined it to be diverse under the sea.

Ariel first meets Gabriela and her octopus companion (an ASL interpreter) Ollie in an episode titled “Wish Upon a Starfish." The character, described as Latina on Disney Wiki, was based on a real young girl who loved the original film but tragically passed away at the age of 2 of leukemia.

You can check out their first encounter below.

Yes, that is the voice of Jodi Benson (the original Ariel) singing.

The two mermaids become fast friends and, as the episode’s title suggests, later they both get to make a wish. Gabriela shared her desire to be able to sing to “express her feelings,” which she learned she could already do through signing. The '90s were a great time for episodes ending with an upbeat moral.

Though it could be argued that Disney has had its fair share of virtue signaling in the past, it does often advocate for representation in authentic ways, as it did by introducing Gabriela.

And yet, despite having a well-known reputation for inclusiveness, Disney’s casting choice of singer Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live action remake of “The Little Mermaid” has, as so many diverse reimaginings do, been on the receiving end of racist backlash.

The comments have run particularly rampant since the official teaser trailer was released. In only two days, the video received more than 1.5 million dislikes and the inception of the hashtag #NotMyAriel.

Some have claimed that having an actress that isn't identifiable white strays too far from the original Danish story, which is pretty mind-boggling considering Hans Christian Andersen’s original little mermaid had no name to begin with, had no major physical descriptions other than “soft and tender skin” and deep blue eyes and, let’s just say, she definitely did not live happily ever after with the prince.

Another complaint is that Ariel’s signature bold red hair from the '90s (which has been significantly toned down in Halle Bailey’s look) is a must-have trait. This was certainly not a creative choice on Andersen’s part. We mostly have 1984’s “Splash” to thank for that. As PopSugar explains, Disney animators changed Ariel’s hair from blonde to red in an attempt to stand out from Darryl Hannah’s iconic role of Madison.

In other words, Disney already strayed from the “original” story. Why can’t it be tweaked again? Make it make sense, please.

There are some even more bonkers arguments swimming around out there, such as “Daily Wire” host Matt Walsh claiming that “from a scientific perspective, it doesn't make a lot of sense to have someone with darker skin who lives deep in the ocean.” Whether or not this was, as Walsh later commented, to be a form of satire, it’s hard to not see it as founded in racism more than anything else.

Considering the apparent lack of logic and unbridled outrage over this fictional character, it’s hard not to see any of the backlash to the latest “My Little Mermaid” as anything other than thinly veiled racism. One group of critics went as far as to share a digitally altered version of the teaser featuring a white woman instead of Halle Bailey, who they called a "woke actress."

Disney established the existence of dark-skinned mermaids as canon decades ago, and folklore throughout the world existed centuries before that. Plain and simple. Besides, the joyful reactions that kids are having to Bailey’s Ariel show firsthand why representation matters. The story, and the character, still have plenty of magic to offer everyone. Nothing is lost through more inclusion.

I for one hope they make even more changes to the story. Like maybe not sending young girls the message to literally prioritize their looks over their voice … or sign contracts without reading them.

Joy

Gen X has hit 'that stage' of life and is not handling it very well

We are NOT prepared for Salt-n-Pepa to replace Michael McDonald in the waiting room at the doctor's office, thankyouverymuch.

Gen X is eating dinner earlier and earlier. It's happening.

The thing about Gen X being in our 40s and 50s now is that we were never supposed to get "old." Like, we're the cool, aloof grunge generation of young tech geniuses. Most of the giants that everyone uses every day—Google, Amazon, YouTube—came from Gen X. Our generation is both "Friends" and "The Office." We are, like, relevant, dammit.

And also, our backs hurt, we need reading glasses, our kids are in college and how in the name of Jennifer Aniston's skincare regimen did we get here?

It's weird to reach the stage when there's no doubt that you aren't young anymore. Not that Gen X is old—50 is the new 30, you know—but we're definitely not young. And it seems like every day there's something new that comes along to shove that fact right in our faces. When did hair start growing out of that spot? Why do I suddenly hate driving at night? Why is this restaurant so loud? Does that skin on my arm look…crepey?

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The Little Red Cup Tea Company Is Making The World A Better Place One Exquisite, Sustainably Sourced Cup At A Time

The best Valentine's gift for when you want to go beyond chocolates and flowers.

With Valentine's Day around the corner, we are looking everywhere for the perfect gift - something not too big, not too small - something that lets your person know you were thinking of them. And something, dare we say, that comes in a cute little red box. What could be better than this darling tea sampler from the Little Red Cup Tea Co?

Organic Tea Sampler

Little Red Cup Tea Company is a company worth getting to know. Their teas aren't your average grocery store tea blends. Each tea is complex and aromatic, with a unique flavor profile. Little Red Cup Tea Company offers so many amazing organic varieties of Chinese teas that the Four Tin Gift Sampler is probably the best way to start exploring their offerings for yourself or (more importantly?) for the tea lover in your life. This customizable sampler is an invitation to try four of the teas Little Red Cup has to offer. Whether they're a seasoned tea connoisseur or just beginning their journey into the world of high-quality teas, this sampler offers a personalized experience that is sure to be appreciated. The sampler is offered all year long, but it is decked out in a fancy red box just for Valentine’s Day.

With the Little Red Cup Four Tin Gift Sampler, you can choose from preset configurations like Four Green Teas, Four Black Teas, Two Black Two Greens, or The Spectrum, or you can mix and match to create your unique assortment. So whether they love sweet subtle green teas, or pungent and smokey black teas,, or you don’t even know where to start, each tin in the Four Tin Gift Sampler offers an unparalleled tasting experience that will introduce you or them to new possibilities.

The Little Red Cup Four Tin Gift Sampler opens up a whole world of high-quality organic teas, and it is a wonderful way to show you care about the planet, as well.

Making the world a better place starts with the choices we make every single day. However, these choices don’t have to be difficult. In fact, thanks to the Little Red Cup Tea Company, even something as simple as having a cup of tea can promote a cleaner world and a better future. The Little Red Cup Tea Company is a family-run business that’s redefining what it means to enjoy a cup of tea. By embracing a mission to sell superior artisanal teas that are certified organic and fair trade, this company is making the world better, one cup at a time. So if you’re looking to take the tea drinking experience to the next level—and you want to make the world a better place at the same time—check out some of the bold and aromatic teas Little Red Cup has to offer.

The Little Red Cup Philosophy

At the heart of the Little Red Cup Tea Company is a story steeped in tradition, simplicity, and a deep respect for nature. Founded with a passion for authentic, traditional teas, this family-run business is on a mission to bring the highest quality Chinese teas to the U.S. market—pure, whole leaf, and brimming with tradition.

What truly sets Little Red Cup apart is their unwavering commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. Every tea leaf in their collection is not only USDA certified organic, but also Fair Trade certified, ensuring that with every sip, consumers are supporting a healthier planet and empowering tea-growing communities. They've built direct partnerships with worker-owned cooperatives, shortening the journey from field to cup and guaranteeing both quality and fairness. By choosing Little Red Cup, you're not just choosing a delicious cup of tea; you're becoming a part of a movement that values the planet, the people, and the timeless tradition of tea drinking.

Commitment to Sustainability

At Little Red Cup, “sustainability” isn't just a buzzword. By strictly adhering to organic farming methods, they ensure that their teas are free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers, offering a purer, healthier cup to their customers. Moreover, their Fair Trade certification isn't just a label; it's a promise. It means that every purchase contributes to a fairer, more equitable system where tea growers receive a fair share, ensuring their communities thrive. This approach creates a direct, positive impact, supporting educational and social programs in rural tea-growing regions. When you sip a cup of Little Red Cup tea, you're not just enjoying a high-quality beverage; you're partaking in a global effort to make the world a little better, one cup at a time.

Little Red Cup Tea Company's commitment to sustainability extends beyond their tea leaves to the very packaging they use. In an industry often marred by excessive and non-eco-friendly packaging, they lead by example, using food-safe tins without plastic liners to reduce waste and keep their teas fresh. Embracing a refill culture, they encourage customers to reuse these tins with larger, resealable tea pouches, further minimizing environmental impact. This thoughtful approach ensures that choosing Little Red Cup is not only about enjoying high-quality tea, but also about supporting a cycle of sustainable consumption and contributing to a healthier planet with every cup.

Join the Little Red Cup Family

The Little Red Cup Tea Company is more than a brand; it's a movement. Each cup of their sustainably sourced, organically grown tea represents a step towards a better world—a world where quality, ethics, and environmental consciousness go hand in hand.

If you’re ready to explore a new world of exquisite flavors and truly sustainable practices, click here to order your Little Red Cup Four Tin Gift Sampler special Valentine’s Day edition today.
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