While there have been an increasing number of Disney movies featuring characters of color and ethnicity, it is only recently that some of these women of color are portrayed as Princesses. In the rare instances where a women of ethnicity is depicted as a princess, such as Jasmine from Aladdin or Pocahontas from Pocahontas the characters are portrayed to be extremely sexualized compared to the white princesses such as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
It is interesting to see that when Disney does depict a leading character that is not blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and fair skin she is provocatively dressed with emphasis on the exotic. Jasmine is depicted as a stereotypical Arabian princess with a belly-bearing attire and long flowing dark hair. Pocahontas is similarly portrayed with bronze skin, scantily dressed, and modelesque stature. Both these characters are vastly different than the white princesses that were portrayed before them.
Both these princesses are also depicted as more defiant and out-spoken than their Caucasian counterparts. Jasmine refuses to listen to her father and chooses to marry for love rather than for political purposes and Pocahontas goes against her father and her tribe and chooses to save John Smith. Princesses such as Belle and Cinderella are portrayed as wholesome and demure in the way they dress and act, they are always fully dressed and obedient. Belle is always with a book in hand and Cinderella does everything her stepmother tells her to do.
So, why is it that these Princesses of color are depicted as over-sexualized? I believe that it is in order to give off that “exotic” effect. Ultimately, Jasmine and Pocahontas have Caucasian features. What sets them apart as being foreign are their darker complexion and their sexualized personas. Disney has built its empire on “Fantasy” and the sexualized exotic characters are an extension of that fantasy.