Why is Princess Yue’s Hair White in Avatar: The Last Airbender?

In Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender,’ the audience is introduced to a whole new world where people have the ability to bend the four elements— water, air, earth, and fire. In this world, Aang is the only one with the power to bend all four elements, though he has yet to perfect it to become the Avatar he was born to be. His journey leads him to all corners of the world. In the Water Tribes of the North, he and his friends, Katara and Sokka, meet Princess Yue, who has white hair unlike any they have ever seen. What is the reason behind her different hair colour? What does it signify? SPOILERS AHEAD

Yue’s White Hair Denotes Her Connection to the Moon Spirit

Yue belongs to the nation of Waterbenders, who hold the Ocean spirit and the Moon spirit above all else. For them, these two spirits are the source of their life and power. When Yue was little, she was born with a sickness that didn’t seem to have a cure. Her parents tried everything, but even the most skilled healers of Agna Qel’a couldn’t do anything to help her. When it looked like there was no way to save their beloved daughter, Yue’s parents prayed to the Moon spirit, the one from whom they got the power of waterbending.

The Moon spirit heard their prayers and decided to help Yue. It cured the young princess of her sickness by leaving behind a part of itself in her. It gave its essence to Yue, which saved her life but also completely changed it. Because now she had a part of the Moon inside her, it reflected on the outside, too. Her hair took the color of the Moon and turned white, marking her with the presence of the Moon spirit in her.

The white hair is not the only thing that the presence of the spirit’s essence did to her. Having a part of the spirit inside her allowed Yue to have one foot in the spirit world. For most humans, the spirit world existed outside the confines of their reach. Only someone like an Avatar could access the spirit world. But for Yue, it became possible after she received a part of the Moon spirit. This allowed her to peek through the curtain and look at the spirit world as easily as she would look at her own.

Yue reveals that she frequently visited the spirit world and would spend some time there trying to understand what it was and how it was connected to their own world. Her connection to the Spirit world eventually becomes important in the final episode of Season 1, when the Moon spirit is put in danger, and Yue realizes that the only way to save it would be for her to give its essence back.

In a world without the power of the Moon spirit, Princess Yue was supposed to die young. There was nothing that could save her from her affliction. But due to the kindness of the Moon spirit, she got another chance to live. She considers it an extended lease on life, and her white hair reminds her of this every day. It also prepares her to be ready to give up this life and sacrifice herself for the greater good, when the time comes.

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