If you’ve never heard of or tried Disneybounding, fair warning: it can get addictive.
I first started Disneybounding during my family’s annual Disney World trip in 2017. A coworker who knew how big of a Disney fanatic I was suggested I try it. I had never heard of it before and so I started researching this fashion trend on Pinterest while I was planning out our family’s outfits for the trip. I’ve never looked back.
What is Disneybounding?
Disneybounding is a fashion trend where people create everyday outfits that resemble Disney characters. This is usually achieved with color blocking, where the colors you wear match the colors of the character you’re trying to emulate. Accessories also play an important role in helping tie the theme of the look together. While the goal is to look as similar to the character as possible without looking costume-y, the most important rule is to stay true to your own personal style.
Why is it called Disneybounding?
Disneybounding got its name from the Disneybound blog run by Leslie Kay. She started the blog as a creative outlet to chronicle her plans for her upcoming Disney trip (she was “bound for Disney”). While posting outfits she put together inspired by her favorite characters it eventually caught on. Disneybounding is now so widespread that the #disneybound hashtag has over 1 million posts on instagram and Disney has officially welcomed Disneybounding in the parks.
Why did it catch on?
Disneybounding filled a void in the Disney fandom community. Disney has a rule that park goers over 14 are not allowed to wear costumes to the parks (this rule is to prevent confusion between park guests and official characters), and so fans who wanted to show their Disney-side were limited to everyday clothes. Once Disneybounding came on to the scene, park fashion evolved from mostly graphic t-shirts and shorts to more vibrant and unique looks. Disney has since caught on and now sells clothing and accessories geared towards this subculture.
Isn't this just Cosplay?
Disneybounding is not cosplay. With cosplay, the looks are more costume-like, and the more literal the look the better. With cosplay, everything is fair game: wigs, wings, body paint, or even special effects. Cosplay looks are only allowed in Disney parks during Halloween parties and runDisney races, and even then there are certain rules that need to be followed.
Why I Love this Fashion Trend so Much
Before I started Disneybounding, my wardrobe consisted of sweats, leggings, t-shirts, and hospital scrubs; and almost everything was black. I was in a weird place with my body, my confidence and my wardrobe. The weight I’d gained from my pregnancies was almost all gone but nothing was ever quite the same (I’m looking at you, boobs). As I hadn’t been this size in almost 6 years, I found myself in need of new clothes and a new hobby since my cloth diaper collecting days were over.
Once I started Disneybounding, I found a creative outlet that forced me to look in the mirror. I hadn’t paid much attention to my appearance for a very long time, and while I still enjoy my sweats and t-shirts, I now look forward to expressing myself through my clothes. My wardrobe has more color and variation than it’s ever had, and this introvert isn’t as anxious to go outside anymore. I enjoy attending events that I can dress up for, Broadway shows are one of my favorites.
For my Disneybounds, I like to incorporate hair (I call it hairbounds or hairplay). I use the same principles as Disneybounding, my hairstyles are intended to be a subtle nod to the character that it’s inspired by. I’ve played with faux locs, box braids, crochet braids, wigs and clip-ins.
One time I was so inspired by a picture of a Black Rapunzel that I installed floor length faux locs and Disneybounded as different interpretations of Rapunzel for an entire 5 day trip to Walt Disney World. It was one of my favorite looks.
Whenever I can, I love to include my family. Although it can be a little overwhelming at times to plan four looks, I’ve found that some of our best times and most enjoyable character interactions in the parks have been when the entire family is dressed up. The cast members usually enjoy seeing what we come up with and guessing which characters or Disney themes inspired us.
The best thing about Disneybounding is it doesn’t have to be limited to the parks. Because its intent is to be subtle, you could do it everyday if you wanted to. It also doesn’t have to be expensive, you can shop your own closet or go to discount stores and thrift for looks. I personally love to go to Rainbow to find pieces that I later rework to fit a Disneybound.
Another added bonus, I’ve met some really amazing and supportive people in this community. No matter how different our individual styles are, we always support one another. The Black Disney community is pretty positive in general, and it’s great to be in a space that doesn’t judge you for what labels you are or aren’t wearing.
Ready to give Disneybounding a try? Check out my Instagram page for some inspiration. Also be sure to check out my podcast episode with Erika, an OG Disneybounder and the creator of the Disneybounders Unite! Facebook group. Which characters would you want to Disneybound as? Let me know in the comments!