Is Disney’s First Latina Princess ‘Latina Enough’?

Is Disneys First Latina Princess Latina Enough? cultural identity  entertainment Disney biculturalism bicultural tv

*UPDATES BELOW – PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE*

Today I was wandering around on Facebook as usual and I came across a post about Disney’s first Latina princess.  If you haven’t heard yet, here’s a quick video preview of the show, Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess:

Disney’s First Latina Princess – Is She ‘Latina Enough’?

So the big huff shared on Mashable this morning, is that Sofia might not look quite ‘Latina enough’.  Put simply, she looks ‘white’.  Fair enough…she is lighter skinned, but does that make her any less Latina?  Not really.

I was actually wondering…is she biracial?  In the video above, she seems to have a brown-skinned Latina mom and a very light-skinned step-father, but there is no mention of her birth father.  Either way, she could be biracial or not, but the mix of her mother and step-father is definitely an interesting one.  Is this Disney’s attempt to hit two marketing targets? Interracial families and bicultural Latinos?  Could be.

I honestly think that the upset on social media platforms like Twitter is due to Disney’s lack of diversity in their programming…especially their programming for younger children.  The past year has been a big one for Disney Junior though.  They’ve added a variety of characters to their network and brought some color on screen without their usual stereotypes or overtly ‘ethnic’ flare.

Finally, a Latina is on the scene though and of course, she’s ‘white’.  Is this another ‘white-washed’ fairy tale?

As another Facebook commenter mentioned, “This probably wouldn’t be an issue if MORE Latinas with varying complexions were represented and not just this ONE girl in a Disney movie. The issue for me isn’t Sofia’s skin color. It’s merely the LACK of REPRESENTATION.”

SO TRUE!

Doc McStuffins has been their first real success at inclusive diversity.  Doc is a fabulous character, a strong, intelligent young girl…who just happens to be Black.  And the presence of her family on Disney has been praised widely.  Then they added Jack and the Neverland Pirates, another show where bicultural kids aren’t overtly ‘different’ from their white counterparts.  Sofia, Disney Junior’s latest character and a Latina princess to boot, just seems like a natural evolution in Disney’s growing roster of bicultural characters.

It’s interesting to watch this shift in Disney’s characters and I know many are watching and wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.  For all our sake, I hope it doesn’t.  I hope that Disney will continue to show alternatives to the stereotypes of Latinos and bicultural Americans in general.

I get the point that Disney is notorious for avoiding characters of color and also for type-casting them into ‘ethnic’ roles, but I think this show could be another positive step for bicultural families.  It could be another chance to show just how diverse our families really are and how alike we are to everyone else in the world.  The differences are not so extreme as Hollywood would like us all to believe.

On the other hand, I’ll definitely be watching to see if there are any covert messages in this cartoon and I’m already wondering about the fact that Sofia is from a poor, single parent home and learning how to ‘become a proper princess’ in a new wealthy, ‘white’ community.  What do you think?  Are they just trying to mimic reality or promoting another stereotype of Latinos?

Let’s continue this conversation!  I would love to hear your thoughts!  What do you think of ‘Disney’s first Latina princess’?

JOIN THE LIVE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK NOW »

And Disney, just know we’re watching!  We acknowledge your efforts and we’re keeping our eyes and ears open and giving you feedback.  Please be open to the concerns you hear voiced online.  Bicultural families want to see more color, we want you to take the lead and make brown positive…because you’re the industry leader and the messages you send can move children’s programming toward positive change.

*UPDATE: 10/18/2012 at 6:45pm CST*

So, the plot thickens.  After writing this post I found something even more interesting.  One of the Facebook groups that I’m a member of was having a discussion on this very topic and a fellow blogger and Babble contributor, Ana Flores, shared her insider take on Disney’s “Latina” princess.

Read the post here: Disney’s Sofia the First is Supposed to be Latina? Why I’m Not Buying It

If you have a minute, please leave a comment on the post I just linked to.  Disney owns Babble.com and they are listening if you are willing to speak up!

Read more details on Hispanic Business and NBC Latino »

Basically, what I gathered* from the articles above is that Disney likely never intended for this princess to be Latina, that they in fact won’t come out and call her Latina in public because they want to keep their mainstream appeal and that no, there is no identifying element during the made-for-tv film that would alert viewers to the fact that Sofia is Latina (which is pretty evident from the preview clip above).  So the question remains, is she really Latina?  How could she be if Disney won’t claim it and hasn’t shown any representation of culture, language or “Latina-ness” in the show?  Does this mean that they are only saying she is Latina in order to entice the Latino demographic???  Would they do that?

I guess we’re all waiting on a response from Disney about whether this really is a “Latina” princess…but I just have to say, this all comes off extremely sleazy.

Also check out Gawker’s take on the ‘first Latina princess’: Disney Declares Its Newest Princess Is Latina, Just So We Can All Fight About Whether Or Not She ‘Looks Latina’

Rags to Riches

For those who wanted to know, is Sofia the product of a single mom?  Is her mom an unwed or single Latina mom rescued by a ‘white’ prince?  Is she biracial?  Here are a couple of interesting things to thumb through…

Is Disneys First Latina Princess Latina Enough? cultural identity  entertainment Disney biculturalism bicultural tv

1. Yes, this is a ‘rags to riches’ story.

Is Disneys First Latina Princess Latina Enough? cultural identity  entertainment Disney biculturalism bicultural tv

2. Yes, her mom was apparently single and used to ‘run the shoe shop’ in an impoverished land, far, far away.

Is Disneys First Latina Princess Latina Enough? cultural identity  entertainment Disney biculturalism bicultural tv

3. Yes, Sofia is a ‘step-child’.  Her mother married the king, meaning that she may or may not be ‘biracial’ as the info about the series sort of implies.

If she is ‘supposed to be Latina’…it makes the story all the more interesting and possibly a little problematic.  But what do you think of this character?  

I’m definitely not interested in investing any of my dollars into this ‘sort-of Latina’ princess that Disney won’t stand behind, are you?

Images via Disney Junior

*Correction: This is only my opinion, based on what I have gather from several online sources.

Comments

  1. Ana Flores says

    Thank you for linking to my post. I hope people do click and read it because I am actually defending Disney. Never do I say that "they in fact won’t come out and call her Latina in public because they want to keep their mainstream appeal and that no, there is no identifying element during the made-for-tv film that would alert viewers to the fact that Sofia is Latina"

    My argument is that I believe the media, not Disney, is responsible for making Sofia a Latina. I still have to read a direct quote or press release from Disney announcing she is. The quote from the VP never alludes to it.

    Knowing Disney's history, do you really think they would have a Latina princess and not make a big deal about her?

    I don't believe they are being, like you say, sleazy. I think we are being overreactive as a community. I'm tired of people and news outlets reacting to headlines without trying to go to the source and making informed comments. That's what my post is about.

    And as a friend said on my FB, "Our Princess will come, and she'll be beautiful."

    • Chantilly Pati&ntild says

      Got it! I see what you mean. I paraphrased what I thought you meant, plus what I gathered, but will definitely add a correction. Also, my apologies…I didn't actually mean to imply that you said the above. That was unclear on my part. I think what I'm confused about, is why did a Disney rep supposedly say "Yes, she is Latina" when someone asked. Maybe this whole thing is just a mix up and we're all making a huff about nothing, but it's really hard to tell at this point. Hopefully we'll have an answer on that soon. Regardless…thanks for the comment and for clearing that up!

  2. Bicultural Mama says

    Interesting, I didn't know in the first place that she could be Latina before I read your post. I thought she was just another princess but a younger version. On the subject of Latinas, I know there are also light skinned ones, too, but to your point there is a lack of representation in general for other cultures besides the mainstream.

  3. Diana says

    I don’t think that there can be one princess that will fulfill everyone’s expectations of what a Latina princess should look like! We would need about 15 or more Disney princesas! I am nore interested in her values than her skin color, how does she view family, for example?
    Regarding your point above, the rags to riches story is a classic story I saw my whole life in telenovelas, and in those telenovelas there wasn’t much diversity….tmblr.co/ZIci9vVkxGLA

  4. Heidy says

    Esto lo voy a escribir en espanol para estar segura que lo entiendan las verdaderas hispanas: soy madre de mellizas e hija de padres 100% latinos. En mi familia hay mucha gente blanca y con Pelos castanos y rubios. De hecho una de mis hijas lo es. Hay una diversidad tan grande de latinoamericanos que es ridiculo pensar que la princess Sofia no luzca como tal. Eso para mi es tener la mente cerrada. Solo para poner un ejemplo, en Colombia en la region paisa la mayoria de las personas son bien blancas y rubias y mas latinoamericanas y colombianas no pueden ser. Es como pensar que solo hay blancos en USA!! Please open your minds! Me ofende que piensen asi!

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