How Supermodel Christie Brinkley Inspired Ariel’s Look in ‘The Little Mermaid’

The model and mom of three shared some reflective thoughts on Instagram.
Christie Brinkley

Christie Brinkley.

Iconic supermodel Christie Brinkley inspired Ariel’s voluminous locks in the 1989 classic The Little Mermaid, and the resemblance is quite clear. The three-time SI Swimsuit Issue cover model shared a quadrant of photos of her own likeness compared to the animated character—along with an inspiring message—on Instagram on May 27.

Mark Penn, supervising animator of the character Ariel, has previously stated that Brinkley inspired the fictional mermaid’s aesthetic look along with Alyssa Milano, while the team ultimately decided to give Ariel red hair rather than the model’s signature blonde locks.

Brinkley stated that as a mom of two daughters—Alexa Ray Joel, 37, and Sailor Brinkley Cook, 24—her family would watch the film together regularly. The 69-year-old is also mom to Jack, 27.

“Both my girls could see a little bit of themselves in Ariel... So this morning when a friend sent me this article about me being part of the inspiration for Ariel we all got a big kick out of it , even if it was a tiny part, because we all saw a bit of ourselves in Ariel,” she wrote in her caption.

Plenty of the model, entrepreneur and mom’s 852,000 followers chimed in to the comments section with sweet feedback regarding the similarities.

“Omg yes! You are a total Disney princess ! 👸💗,” a fan stated.

“I always thought you looked like a 🧜🏻‍♀️ ❤️ I was right!!!!” Sandy Linter noted.

“Who among us hasn’t known all along @christiebrinkley was always a Disney Princess?✨🤍✨🩵✨🧡✨,” another person quipped.

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.