It might seem a little odd that I’m devoting time to Tiger Lily given that she has no speaking role in Peter Pan, but given her introduction as one of the most memorable early age female characters of colour, I thought she deserved a week of her own. The portrayal of the Indians in Peter Pan is not exactly one of Disney’s proudest cinematic moments. From the chief’s red face and large red nose to their highly stereotyped actions in the film, we are starkly reminded that Peter Pan was made many decades earlier in the 1950s.
However, despite not having a speaking role, the princess epitomises loyalty and strength in the film. Despite being chained to a rock, she refuses to give away Peter Pan’s location despite not only being threatened with death, but also the prospect of not being able to go to the afterlife. However, the rest of her portrayal is not as admirable, such as her flirting with Peter after her rescue.
This explains why we haven’t seen Tiger Lily more in any further Peter Pan films or merchandise bar the odd object or two. Though I might not necessarily advise readers to go and watch the Peter Pan film again just to see Tiger Lily’s small feature, I hope that her mention here at least helps other Disney fans remember her. With a white actress playing Tiger Lily in the upcoming Pan film, it’s more important than ever to remember that Tiger Lily has a voice. Unlike Peter or the fairies, her role isn’t just to be gawped at as another fantastical creature, nor should she be.