Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Sofia the First: The Latina Controversy
Back when we first started hearing about the fairly new Disney television show and movie Sofia the First, there was a quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. The media had picked up on Disney's claim that Sofia was to be the "first Latina princess," and as art began to be released many weren't happy with the result. Sofia appeared as a fair-skinned, reddish brown- haired little girl with big blue eyes. Many complained that this was not an accurate Latina character design, while others asserted that there are in fact light-skinned and haired Latinas so this was plausible. Sofia's mother was to be from a fictitious country of Galdiz. As she married into royalty in the kingdom of Enchancia the show and movie follow Sofia's journey into princess-hood and her new blended family. Either way, I stayed on the fence and decided to wait until the original movie aired to see if her proclaimed heritage would be honored.
As it turns out, no, it wasn't really. And shortly after plenty of online articles reported that even Disney specified she was not in fact Latina, but from a fairy tale country inspired by Spain.
So as confusing as this whole ordeal unfolded, I for one am glad they abandoned the notion that Sofia was Latina for a few reasons. Her show focuses on the challenges of entering a blended family, one that plenty of modern children can relate to. While she may talk to Disney princesses and animals and wear a crown she learns life lessons along the way that speak to young kids. The audience Sofia is aimed toward doesn't care what her supposed ethnicity is since it's such a fantastical world to begin with.
I am hoping that the original positive response to a Disney Latina princess will fuel Disney to go back to the drawing board and create something absolutely wonderful. I would be delighted to see a heroine from a real country facing relevant challenges. Living in a border state I have been surrounded with the rich culture of Mexico my whole life. Aspects including food, dance, natural wonders, and festivities would translate so well into a film matching the stunning visual complexity of, say, Brave. And that's just one Hispanic country... there are so many to work with. Disney has the potential to honor the history and diversity in a way that Sofia the First really never could have, with its small target audience.
What do you think about the Disney's approach to diversifying its princess lineup and Sofia the First?