When Tiana was introduced as Disney’s first black princess, the addition was a breath of long-awaited diversity to a lineup of classic fair-skinned characters. The Princess and the Frog might have broken ground on black inclusion in animated movies, but it also received backlash for promoting stereotypes as opposed to depreciating them. But where Tiana failed, Tip prevails.
Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci, voiced by Rihanna in Home, the flick out Friday about an alien who lands on earth and befriends the young girl, seems to represent young black girls in a way that the industry has heretofore been marginalized. Rihanna, who is Bahamian, recently shared an image of a young girl with her hair in its natural curls gleefully smiling next to a poster of Tip with the caption, “Why we do this.”
“Finally making sensible impressions on young black girls,” one commenter wrote. “I salute!” Many others called the post “adorable,” and another noting how important representation is. “Love that she gets to see images of herself,” Joy also added in the comments section.
Characters of color have been avoided in animation largely because illustrating is difficult. Take, for example, Merida from Brave whose wild red curly hair took three years to master. Tip, rocking natural curls, most likely took a similar amount of time to complete, but it seems as if it was worth the investment based on just the feedback from social media.
The “FourFiveSeconds” singer, who has made strides herself as of late not only by lending her vocals to Home but also in fashion becoming the first black woman to front a Dior campaign, also identifies with her character and decided to take the role because of that. “Tip is so bold,” she said in an interview with MTV. “And the way she dresses and how she wears her hair is not perfect and I feel like little girls should feel comfortable being that way, being strong and being themselves.”
There aren’t many role models with natural hair in real life even outside of the fantasy world, Tracee Ellis Ross, Solange Knowles, and Viola Davis are a few, but little girls idolize cartoons to an even greater extent seeing as they’re more prevalent within the media they consume (see: Frozen). Adding one has already made a difference, as evidenced by Rihanna’s Instagram, and the movie hasn’t even been in theaters for a full day.