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The Nani, who acted like a mother and was technically a sister

I grew up watching cartoons on the Disney Channel, and one of the most popular shows at the time was Lilo and Stitch, and although the show was centred around Lilo and her adventures with her aliens friends, her elder sister Nani was an integral part of the show.

Nani was on her way to becoming a professional surfer and chose to give it all up to become Lilo’s full-time guardian. Nani became Lilo’s mother, father, and sister, all at the age of eighteen. She accepted Lilo’s eccentric habits and gave her space to grow.

Nani’s character design is also something worth noting. In an era of Disney princesses with tiny waists, Nani had a normal waist and her stomach formed natural rolls when she sat, although she was a surfer. Most of the human characters on the show had native features as well. This way the show promoted body positivity and loving one‘s own inherited features and culture.

A special mention for David, Nani’s boyfriend, who went out of his way to help Nani. He was her support, he bought her a phone so that she could stay in touch with Lilo while at work, and he made Nani’s priorities his own priorities.

The show teaches young children of the importance of family and found family. Did you watch Lilo and Stitch as a child and what do you think about Nani’s character?

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The sibling dynamic between the two really did influence the way my brother and I interact with each other, considering the both of us know the entire script of Lilo & Stitch by heart at this point. Will forever be grateful for Nani being such a wonderful influence on my life!


Lilo & Stitch was a favorite of mine growing up, and Nani's character is definitely one that was underrated. It's unfortunate to see that Disney hasn't - at least to my knowledge - created many (or perhaps any?) body-positive characters since, despite the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response the movie got from audiences. It's notable that Nani played various roles for Lilo, and I especially love that her role was not solely a maternal one, as there are plenty of movies and television shows for children (like Max and Ruby) that have replaced the mother with a sister in ways that can be seen as problematic, so it's nice to see that Disney didn't take it in that direction.


Nani is such a strong powerful lead! Made me sad that she had to give up on her dreams to some extent to be the caretaker at such a young age. Such a great show though


Nani is such a cool character. I never looked too much into her because Stitch was my main fascination, but this post made me think of her more, and realise that she was genuinely always there for Lilo, and wasn't shown to be super-fancy but really really normal and chill and cool. She was always really supportive to Lilo, and I remember she would pack food for her imaginary friend, and even when they didn't have jam she didn't say don't take food for your friend, she just suggested peanut butter.

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