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The Real Reason That Mulan Plays With Her Hair So Much

The Disney animated film, Mulan, was released in 1998 and has since become a classic (and even garnered a live-action remake, which came out in 2020). The story follows the title character, Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen), as she becomes fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military. In response, Mulan finds a way to get around the patriarchal rules that make her, as a girl, ineligible to serve in the military by disguising herself as a man to take her father's spot.

Throughout the film, Mulan can be seen touching her hair frequently. It's a subtle detail, although one of those things you can't unsee once it's pointed out. While watching, the viewer may figure that it was a character detail the writers saw fit to Mulan — it could be a nervous habit, or maybe a small foreshadowing to the scene in which she chops it mostly all off. Well, it turns out there's a charming story behind why Mulan plays with her hair so much.

This detail was modeled after Mulan's voice actress

According to various internet pages, such as Reddit and the Twitter page titled Film Facts, there was a very specific reason for the character of Mulan touching her hair so frequently. The sources explain that while working on the film, the directors, Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft, noticed that Mulan's voice actress, Ming-Na Wen, played with her own hair frequently during production. Liking it as a character detail, they added several moments to the animation of the character doing the same thing.

Wen, having seen the Film Facts tweet about this, essentially confirmed it by responding in her own tweet, "I still touch my hair a lot," with a laughing emoji to go along with it. Hilariously, one of the top reply tweets is a compilation video that a fan made of a ton of instances of Wen playing with or touching her hair.

Knowing this interesting fact behind a subtle detail of the movie makes it all the more appealing to witness on screen.