Mermaids aren’t real (crazy, right?) but for fans of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, there are some characteristics of Ariel that are important. Her red hair is one of them. The live-action remake’s director, Rob Marshall, and its Ariel, Halle Bailey, know that and worked hard on the mermaid’s hair while keeping true to who Bailey is as a Black woman.
“It was super important for me to have my natural hair in this film. I was really grateful to Rob Marshall because he wanted to keep my locs. It’s always important to have somebody to cosign,” Bailey previously told Ebony. “I’ve had my locs since I was 5, so they’re a huge part of who I am. We need to be able to see ourselves, we need to be able to see our hair on big screens like this, so that we know that it’s beautiful and more than acceptable.”
To get the look while keeping Bailey’s gorgeous locs, her hairstylist, Camille Friend, dyed the actor’s roots red and then wrapped her locs in hair of the same shade, Bailey reveals in a new Glamour interview. “[Ariel still] has red hair, because that’s a very iconic part of her, but I really did admire the fact that because I’m a Black woman and I have locs, [the producers] wanted to incorporate that into Ariel’s look.” She goes on to say how the film’s hairstylist and makeup artist (Kat Ali) are both women of color so it made her feel comfortable.
“They know how to take care of me and my hair and makeup. I’ve been on sets before where that’s not the case,” she said.
Beyond its visual impact, Ariel’s red hair served as a metaphor for her uniqueness. Among a sea of mermaids with blue and green tresses, her crimson mane set her apart and made her instantly recognizable. Just as her hair defied convention, Ariel defied societal norms by pursuing her desires and following her heart. Fans couldn’t wait to see Ariel’s hair in the live-action remake. So, Bailey really had to hide her hair from the public while filming.
We’d say they nailed it.