*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.”
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’?
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!
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…
1. Yes, this is a ‘rags to riches’ story.
2. Yes, her mom was apparently single and used to ‘run the shoe shop’ in an impoverished land, far, far away.
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.