One Disney fan’s determination to bring some black girl magic to Disneyland has gone viral, inspiring many along the way.
Audrey Lee Young, of Oceanside, Califl, brought 13 black women together for an epic photo shoot at Disneyland — both to showcase the beauty of African culture and to pay homage to their favorite Disney princesses. Young tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she became a part of a Disney online community within the last few years and started participating in what’s known as “Disneybounding,” for which fans travel to the Disney theme parks dressed as their favorite characters.
“My first Disneybound was the Genie from Aladdin, and I chose it because it was what I could find in my closet,” Young, a singer and performer, says.
After several years of mulling over the idea of her latest photo shoot, a friend suggested they set their sights on making it happen for Black History Month 2020, in order to make a big impact. Young was thrilled at the response when she began asking around for participants.
“When I reached out to about 17 women I thought I would get a response from maybe six or seven,” she says. Instead, she got 13 “yes” responses.
After coordinating with the women about who would represent which princess, Young enlisted the help of San Diego-based photographer Madeline Barr to capture the moment.
“I was freaking honored to be asked to shoot this,” Barr tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Audrey and I had shot together a few months before and I was immediately onboard when she told me her idea… Audrey is truly incredible, both for her creativity and bringing all these incredible women together.”
The shoot went down at Disneyland earlier this month, with the African-print-swathed women, including Young, representing Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Vanellope, Anna, Elsa and Moana. Young dubbed the group “African PRINTcess” and they were an immediate hit with park guests.
“We had several people ask for photos with us,” Young says. “Lots of people were pointing and staring as trying to guess who we were. Others were coming up and saying how beautiful we all looked. It was overwhelming but nice. I wasn’t surprised. I knew this project was something special.”
From behind the camera, Barr was wowed by the shoot.
“These ladies all blew my mind,” she says. “The creativity and style was so rad and everyone’s outfits seamlessly worked with each other. The energy was amazing and it was so fun to see all the other guests reactions as we walked around the park. It was like walking around the park with a group of celebs!”
It did not take long for the pictures of Young and the other women to spread across the internet like wildfire, and to garner hundreds of comments on Instagram.
“Nailed. It!!!!!!!” one fan noted. Others offered praise including, “Beauty. Leader. Innovator,” “Absolutely stunning and so creative!” and “Beautiful idea! What a gorgeous group of ladies.”
Young admitted that she was surprised by the attention they were getting, and said that the best compliment she has received was about how much seeing the pictures meant to parents of black children.
“When I was a little girl this is not something I ever thought possible,” she says. “Representation actually does matter. We are beautiful and we deserve to be seen, too. Our dark skin and kinky hair and beautiful history deserves a spotlight, too. The standard of beauty is changing, and we are representing.”
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