It’s almost a rite of passage for little girls to go through a princess phase. Something about the poofy dresses, glittery accessories, and – often – the handsome prince and the lovely castle appeal to their sensibilities. Of course, many times the princess they most closely identify with is the one that is the most like them.
Now there will be a new option for them to emulate, as a new princess is being added to the Disney pantheon. Instead of a teen exploring her romantic interests, this princess is a little girl, adjusting to the dynamic of going from the regular life of a child to that of a princess. Princess Sofia is set to be introduced in a televised movie, which will be followed by a new series which is aimed at the preschool to early grade school set.
There is more that makes Princess Sofia unique. As Entertainment Weekly shared,
During a recent press tour of the Sofia the First production offices, one blogger pointed out that in concept art, Sofia’s mother, Miranda, the newly crowned queen of Enchancia, had a darker complexion than the other characters. “She is Latina,” executive producer Jamie Mitchell said of the character, acknowledging that this makes Sofia the first Latina princess to appear in a Disney animation project.
This fact has garnered both praise and criticism. Many are happy to see the diversifying of backgrounds and cultures embraced by the show. Others are unhappy that the ethnicity of these characters is not being celebrated as directly as they would like. Other information about the princess has not claimed her as Latina, but focuses on the mixed ethnic influences throughout the world of the show.
Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, had this to say on their Facebook page:
What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world. All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures. The writers have wisely chosen to write stories that include elements that will be familiar and relatable to kids from many different backgrounds including Spain and Latin America. For example, Sofia’s mom comes from a fictitious land, Galdiz, which was inspired by Spain. There are wonderful stories coming up in which Sofia and her family celebrate a winter holiday called Wassailia (reminiscent of a Scandinavian Christmas), and go on a picnic in Wei-Ling, an Asian-inspired kingdom. Most importantly, Sofia’s world reflects the ethnically diverse world we live in but it is not OUR world, it is a fairytale and storybook world that we hope will help spur a child’s imagination.
What do you think about the new princess? Is it enough that the imaginary land she hails from will echo with Latin influences, or are you disappointed that the correlation that would truly make her the first Latina princess is not more direct?
What do you think? A Princess Like Me?