The children’s getup was supposed to be Maui, a revered figure to Pacific Islanders who is one of the characters in Disney’s upcoming movie “Moana.”
The animated film, which comes out on Thanksgiving, tells the story of a Polynesian princess who meets Maui and together they sail the ocean on an action-packed adventure as she fulfills her quest to save her people and seek her own identity.
The costume had a shirt and pants designed to look like Maui’s tattoos as well as a grass skirt, a shark tooth necklace and padded sleeves and legs for “mighty stature!”
Critics said the costume was misappropriation of the Polynesian culture by a company only looking to profit on an indigenous peoples’ intellectual property.
Tevita Kaili, who is a professor of cultural anthropology at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, told the Associated Press that the tattoos featured in the costume were used by chiefs and leaders and that their meanings were removed from context when put on a Halloween disguise.
Disney heeded the critics and announced the company would no longer sell the getup.
“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,” the company said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”