Disney has announced changes are coming to the “Disney Look” that will allow cast members to find more flexibility in how they express themselves at work through their appearance, with an emphasis on gender inclusivity.
Cast members will now be able to explore greater freedoms in their self-expression at the domestic Disney Parks; the resorts at Hilton Head, Vero Beach, and Aulani in Hawaii; and Disney Cruise Line, with respect to hair, facial hair, fingernails (i.e. painted fingernails), jewelry, visible tattoos, and costume choices.
Specifically, small, visible tattoos will now permitted — with the exception of tattoos located on the face, head, and neck. For hair and nails, cast members, no matter their gender, can wear gender-inclusive hairstyles in naturally-occurring colors and well-maintained nail polish in a single color or French manicure style. However, the rules are more strict when it comes to facial piercings: cast members are only allowed to wear two earrings in each ear, but they can be located anywhere on the ear.
“To be relevant is more than just being creative, we must also be inclusive, making sure that our stories and products reflect the diversity of the world that we live in. And it starts with developing diverse talent and encouraging diversity of thought,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “This focus on diverse voices is important throughout every area of our organization. It also means using our resources to strengthen the communities where we operate, providing better futures for the generation of Disney cast and guests.”
For employee costumes, Disney is working toward gender inclusivity. Cast members will be able to choose the costume that best suits them individually and how they choose to express themselves.
“As part of our ongoing process at Imagineering, we look at the authentic representation of people and cultures in our stories,” said Carmen Smith, executive of Creative Development and Inclusive Strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering. “This is an important part of creating a more inclusive environment for guests from all over the world.”
Some areas and lines of business at the parks will still have certain guidelines for acceptable Disney Look in order to keep with the theme of their area. Costumes will still be themed to support the overall story of the area they are seen in, but will be gender inclusive.
This update to the Disney Look doesn’t apply to costumed characters. For example, since Cinderella doesn’t have any tattoos, the cast member portraying her won’t be able to show any either.
This isn’t the first time Disney Look has undergone major changes; in 2019, guidelines were adjusted to allow for greater variety in visible jewelry and facial hair growth. As stated in a press release shared by Disney, the company believes that cast “can provide the best of Disney’s legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression.”
We always look to see companies translate their principles into practice. Disney’s move is a powerful example of a company that is walking the walk on inclusion and belonging. With these changes, cast members can bring their full, authentic selves to their work. More Disney guests will be able to see themselves reflected in the diversity of people across all levels of the company. We are proud to partner with Disney on this effort and many more.
Changes like these are strategic: we see in study after study that the next generation of Disney fans and guests rejects gender stereotypes and craves values alignment with brands. Simply put, they want the companies they patronize to be as inclusive and forward-looking as they are. This is a great moment for people everywhere to see Disney — an iconic company — signal that everyone is welcome there.Erin Uritus, Out & Equal president
As part of the recent addition of “Inclusion” as a new “Key” — the tenets that guide cast members as they work and create magic at the Disney Parks — these policy updates will “allow for more personal expression and foster greater inclusivity at work.” The Five Keys are:
Inclusion, which sits at the heart of the Five Keys, was added after Disney solicited input from cast members from around the world in 2019 on how the company could cultivate a greater focus on inclusivity for cast. In addition to the changes to Disney Look, the Inclusion key is being implemented even now across Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, with Disney giving examples like the planned retheming of Splash Mountain, scenic and story updates to Jungle Cruise, inclusive products like adaptive Halloween costumes, the Disney Rainbow merchandise collections for pride, and Disney’s mentorship work with programs like the Disney Dreamers Academy.
This focus on inclusivity has also been seen at the international parks, as Tokyo Disney Resort recently changed its park announcement greeting from “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” to “Hello everyone.” There’s no word just yet on if this change will make its way to the domestic parks.
Walt Disney famously said during the opening of Disneyland, “To all who come to this happy place, welcome.” With these new changes, the emphasis on the idea that “all” are welcome is loud and clear.
What do you think of these changes to Disney Look? Are you excited for cast members to have greater freedoms for self-expression? Or do you prefer the clean-cut, classic Disney Look? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.