Growing up, you wanted to look your favorite Disney princess. Resembling one of the iconic cartoon characters was an unspoken yet understood quality envied by many. Nowadays, Braeden O’Brien is rising through the ranks on TikTok so everyone can feel like the royalty they are. By creating diverse Disney princesses O’Brien highlights a lack of representation, assumption of heteronormativity, and absence of flaws and insecurities that are human.
Braeden is a Tik Toker who shows his digital and pencil drawings through 30-60 second clips. His videos quickly went viral when he started using Walt Disney Style characters to draw other Tik Tokers and followers. However, soon after, he created a series called “Creating a ________ Disney Princess”, and each video would be a new, more diverse take on Disney princesses.
One of the first videos in the series gained 2.4 million views and almost 700,000 likes and shows him drawing a Black Disney Princess with the caption “Tiana was a frog for half the movie”.
Examples of his other early viral videos from this series include “Creating a Plus Size Disney Princess” and “Creating a Muslim Disney Princess”. These videos gained 2.3 million views and 2.2 million views respectively, causing O’Brien to receive an insurgence of followers.
Since then, O’Brien has created dozens of videos for the series that continuously touches lives as people finally have cartoon characters that actually look like them. This type of positive representation, especially for the younger people on the app, will give them a sense of security and confidence everyone deserves.
Princesses of All Ethnicities
Since most of the quintessential Disney princesses are different shades of ivory, it can be disheartening for little girls to not have anyone to look up to that looks like them.
Throughout the “Creating a ______ Disney Princess” series, O’Brien has drawn many ethnicities for kids to see their cultures and identities drawn in such a relatable and beloved style.
Two early examples of these characters are the Mexican and Indian Princesses that both went viral on TikTok, earning over a million views each. However, as his drawings have continued coming out there have been Native American, Jewish, British, Japanese, and Fillipino Disney princesses to name a few.
Some of the top-rated liked comments include stories of young girls saying how much it means to them or creative comments, giving the drawings names and stories of their own.
One top comment specifically states, “Thank you for this, I always had to aspire to Belle, she was just the closest thing we had”. This feeling is unfortunately one many people have felt, as they grasp on to the character that somewhat but barely represents them.
Disney Princesses and Princes take the stage
Artist Braeden O’Brien also dabbled with Disney princesses ranging in sexualities, genders, and identities with several videos dedicated to his Queer and LGBTQ+ followers. His most famous in this mini-series include “Creating a Lesbian Disney Princess Couple” along with several others pictured below.
Each of the viral videos, including the inspiring “Creating a Transgender Disney Princess” video, has between one and three million views with thousands of comments praising the artist’s work.
Normalizing Insecurities and Disabilities
The final sub set of O’brien’s series that should be highlighted is the emphasis on humanity rather than perfection. Every main stream celebrity, influencer, or cartoon character alway seem to have has the perfect nose and clear skin one hundred percent of the time. This level of perfection is unattainable and does not acknowledge the differences or quirks that make everyone unique. Furthermore, a majority of the disabled community does feel properly or positively represented and may feel insecure about not being seen in the media and being overlooked. However, through his Tik Toks O’Brien has shown how being human and being beautiful come from being unique and confident with yourself.
A fan favorite of these kinds of videos would be the “Creating a Disney Princess with Body Hair” TikTok with 1.7 million views. This video was followed by a slurry of TikToks celebrating insecurities rather than hiding them and highlighted everything from acne scars and glasses to tooth gaps and hearing aids.
In regards to disabilities and other categories of inclusivity the artist has videos celebrating princesses with vitiligo, alopecia, down syndrome, burn scars, a lazy eye and many more. One Tik Tok user @desteeny_07 made a duet of the video showcasing herself next to the Disney princess in a wheelchair stating, “I always dreamed
Currently, O Brien remains a TikTok Artist with his online shop and etsy store, that sells prints of his diverse Disney princesses and other works. So far he has amassed an astounding 247 million views and 90 million likes that are only increasing as time goes on. He is currently dabbling in realism and remains true to his Disney inspired pieces. Through his videos million so many people have finally seen themselves represented as characters that are as diverse as the world around them. O Brien has found a way to bring inclusivity to the Disney style by drawing characters with varying ethnicities, sexualities, disabilities, and insecurities to make everyone feel included and empowered.
The normalization of our differences should be encouraging and celebratory as these differences are what makes humanity beautiful and unique — and TikTok artist Braeden O’Brien reinforces this fact with every piece in his astounding “Creating a _____ Disney Princess (Or Prince)” series and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.