Feminism / Movies / Race

The Jasmine Diaries: ‘Exotic’ is Not a Compliment


From Irresistible Revolution, The Jasmine Diaries is a series of pieces written to explore the role of Aladdin‘s princess Jasmine in the identity of the Desi author, Tassja. As a girl, Tassja identified with the white Disney princesses. But when she grew older, and realized she wasn’t treated like the white princesses, she took ownership of Jasmine.

I made an implicit choice in response to my reality: if I could not embody the demure, blonde princess, I would be her opposite. I would be Jasmine. If male attention would not rivet upon my grace and gentleness, I would command it with my sexuality. I would wear tight, cleavage-baring clothes, bare my belly whenever possible, openly talk about fucking, and vehemently deny that I wanted any of the things princesses are supposed to want: commitment, marriage, roses, a lover who would awake beside me with tenderness mingling with the dawn in his eyes.

Part I: Colonial Legacies and Modern Dilemmas explains the racist construction of Jasmine’s image and character, giving crucial background for Part II: ‘Exotic is not a Compliment. This section is about Tassja’s aforementioned personality shift. She delves into the confusing intersection of representation, her identity, feminism, and the reality of what Jasmine means.

One of the most disturbing scenes in Disney’s “Aladdin” is when Jasmine must pretend to seduce Jaffar in order to distract him. The clothing that the animators chose to put her in, complete with the shackles, are all a white, colonial wet dream. And she’s the only Disney princess who’s had to use her body in this way to distract someone.

Part III: Beyond ‘Exotic’ is a video essay that attempts to lay out why this series is necessary.


3 thoughts on “The Jasmine Diaries: ‘Exotic’ is Not a Compliment

  1. Pingback: Where’s the Cool Asian Americans At? | Be Young & Shut Up

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