Disney Parks revamping their dress code; what does this mean for cast members?

Kenley and her fellow cast members in Galaxy’s Edge

Josh D’Amaro, the Chairman of Disney Parks, recently announced in a blog post the company’s plans to revamp dress codes for cast members so that gender roles aren’t exclusive and so everyone feels welcomed. Costumes, merchandise, and even rides are being revamped as part of this initiative. Although this sounds like great news, not everyone feels that Disney is doing all it can to be welcoming and forward-thinking.

Kenley George, a student at West Liberty University, was part of the Disney College Program (DCP) in the fall of 2019. This program required George to move to Disney for a few months while working in one of the parks. Part of her job required her to follow a strict dress code: no visible tattoos, neutral-colored nail polish, natural colored hair, and limited piercing jewelry and jewelry on her wrists and fingers.

George recalled, “I have a visible tattoo on my wrist that I had to cover up with band-aids every time I worked.” She continued, “I was not allowed to have any facial piercings, only one piercing on my ear lobe. I could only wear two rings all together and wear a simple necklace and maybe one or two bracelets.” She said that the dress code was often referred to as the “Disney Look.”

George says, “I feel that Disney is a place that anyone and everyone can express themselves and be true to who they are. I feel like the ‘Disney Look’ holds back cast members from doing just that.” According to the announcement by D’Amaro, the new “Disney Look” is much more relaxed and inclusive. “Our new approach provides greater flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos.”

George explained that cast members played a character based on where they were located. She worked in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and was expected to maintain her character, so she understands why there might be stricter rules about tattoos. She says, “If someone working in Galaxy’s Edge has a Harry Potter tattoo, it might confuse some people.” Not all tattoos will be allowed to be visible, but this is another step toward tattoo acceptance and overcoming the stigma around them.

Dress codes aren’t the only thing that is changing. D’Amaro’s statement also said, “We’re reimagining our attractions to be more inclusive, like upcoming enhancements to Jungle Cruise and new adventures with Princess Tiana.” The hopes of these improvements are to celebrate diversity, traditions and cultures from all people. Disney’s Four Keys–safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency—is now The Five Keys, adding “Inclusion at the heart.”

I believe that self-expression is important to be taught to young children as something that accepts all that makes up a person. Hair color, jewelry, piercings, and tattoos are all forms of self-expression and diversity. I also believe that big companies like Disney should continue to break gender roles and make sure to include all genders and people. Hair, jewelry, and tattoos are parts of cultures and traditions, so it’s time the world starts normalizing and accepting this.