'Moana' star weighs in on whether it's offensive to dress as the princess for Halloween

'Moana' star weighs in on whether it's offensive to dress as the princess for Halloween

Every Halloween, people dress up as their favorite characters, but what if their favorite character is a different race? A couple years ago, Disney released the animated movie Moana, introducing the first Polynesian princess. Kids fell in love with the fearless heroin, putting parents in a bind: If you're not Polynesian, is dressing up as Moana culturally insensitive?

In 2016, Disney pulled the Maui costume from shelves, after outraged customers called it racist. (In Moana, Maui is the leading lady's boisterous demigod pal, voiced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.) "The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some," said Disney, in a statement. "We sincerely apologize."

Maui costume Credit: Disney store

Currently the Moana costume is available at several retailers, including Amazon, Disney, Party City and Target. Following the Maui controversy, concerned parents have wondered if dressing as Moana is inappropriate. Well, now the Hawaii-born actress who plays voices Moana has weighed in on the issue. Auli’i Cravalho says it's 'absolutely' fine to dress as the strong-willed princess.

"I think it’s absolutely appropriate," the 17-year-old actress told PEOPLE. "It’s done in the spirit of love and for Disney and for the little ones who just want to dress up as their favorite heroine, I’m all for it. I would encourage anyone who wants to dress up as a wayfinder who journeys beyond her reef to figure out who she truly is, I totally support you. Go for it! Parents can dress up as Moana, too." (But obviously, don't darken or lighten your skin!)

Moana costume Credit: Target

Recently the old Disney princesses have been criticized for not being good feminist role models. Keira Knightley refuses to let her daughter watch Cinderella because "she waits around for a rich guy to rescue her." "Don't!" says the actress. "Rescue yourself, obviously." Echoing that sentiment, Kristen Bell said 'Snow White' sends the 'wrong message' to children. "Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?" asks the actress, who voices Anna in Disney’s Frozen. "Because you can not kiss someone if they’re sleeping."

In response, Cravalho said she appreciates previous princesses, and feels lucky to be part of the new wave of strong, independent heroines: "I think each of the Disney princesses are just pretty reflective of their time. This day in age, we definitely need a heroine who is the hero of her own story, who journeys beyond what her parents have done, who breaks the mold. That’s what we need right now and hopefully what we will continue to see later on, but there’s still things to be learned from other Disney princesses that we’ve come from. It’s just like our parents: We’re not like our parents and yet we can see the similarities and differences. We can always be grateful for what we’ve learned from."

So, go ahead and purchase that Moana costume!