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Is Princess Sofia "Latina Enough"?

Updated on July 15, 2013
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Where is Enchancia Anyway, And Do They Serve Tamales There?

Disney's newest princess, Sofia, is featured in the TV movie "Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess," which made its premiere in November 2012. But Disney has faced backlash from some advocacy groups who claim that the character, who has been said to be "Latina" by Disney executives, is not representative enough of the Hispanic population.

The character Princess Sofia, seen in the picture to the right, has prominent blue eyes and fair skin, with brown hair. According to Craig Gerber, co-executive producer of "Sofia The First," the character of Sofia is a "mixed-heritage princess in a fairytale world," and that her mother and birth-father are from make believe kingdoms which were inspired by Spain and Scandinavia, respectively. Princess Sofia was born and grew up in Enchancia, which is a "make-believe 'melting-pot' kingdom" inspired by the British Isles. Disney claims that the character was never meant to be "explicitly Latina."

But none of this is good-enough for America's National Hispanic Media Coalition, who intend to meet Disney studio executives to discuss the character. Lisa Navarrete, spokewoman for The National Council Of La Raza, claims that Disney is now "back-pedalling" and that "They've done such a good job in the past when they've introduced Native American, African-American and Asian princesses. They made a big deal out of it, and there was a lot of fanfare, but now they're sort of scrambling. It's unusual because Disney has been very good about Latino diversity."

Navarrette goes on to say that "Little girls look to these characters to see themselves represented....If they don't see themselves, it makes a difference. It would be nice to see Disney make a full-out push for a Latina princess, whether it's 'Sofia the First' or not."

News Flash: Not All Latinos Look The Same

I think Navarette would like to take us back to the strong stereotypes of characters such as Speedy Gonzalez, which were caricatures more than characters. I don't know how many Latinos she has met or how much of the outside world she has seen, but, amazingly, not all of us look the same. My son has blue eyes and fair skin, and he is 100% Mexican-American like his mom and dad. So, by his physical appearance, is he not "Latino" enough? What about all of the Latinos who live in South America? Plenty of light skin and eyes of various colors there, and maybe even some blonde hair once in a while. Would these "advocacy" groups be happier if Princess Sofia had a thick accent, and wore a sombrero instead of a tiara, maybe worked in a car wash, and got chased around with chanclas by her mother when she misbehaved?

But the issue of race representation shouldn't be a concern. We need to let our children latch onto the characters they choose and not dictate that they be of a certain race or ethnicity. When I grew up, my favorite fictional character was Robocop, who is a cyborg, part man, part machine. Nothing about him was Mexican, not even when he was a human police officer (before he got ripped to shreds by shotgun blasts.) I wasn't drawn to him because of anything involving ethnicity. Instead, the universal characteristics of integrity, good versus evil, and a strong sense of duty were what appealed to me. Oh, and his gun was awesome too, and he was made out of friggin' kevlar! But the point is, I wasn't watching him thinking in terms of white or black or Latino or Asian or anything like that. Children watch cartoons to escape their worlds, not because they are a mirror reflection of whatever their real-world might look like. And Latinos are so diverse, that to draw all of us with the same features and colors wouldn't do justice to our culture or heritage.

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    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      SoundNFury,

      I'm so glad you wrote this because it is a perfect example of how "we go too far". What difference does it make? Since when do Disney characters need to meet some kind of standards? Alice in Alice in Wonderland was one of my favorite Disney characters growing up and I didn't compare her accent or attire to other English people... or wherever she was from. I just through myself into the movie and appreciated the magic that was intended for a child. I also loved Ariel and she's a mermaid! I think that it's ridiculous that this is even an issue, that people are insulted or the need for any kind of meetings. This is sometimes why minorities feel like minorities because they won't get out of their own way! Loved it.

      Voted up and awesome!

    • SoundNFury profile image
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      Michael Valencia 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you so much for stopping by and your comments :) Yes, I agree that there is a point where we can become so overly sensitive about things that it makes it counter-productive. I also loved the Little Mermaid as a kid :D

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      SoundNFury,

      I hadn't even heard any of the controversy over it and I just can't believe how silly it seems. It's not like it was a documentary about Latinas. Geeze :-)

    • SoundNFury profile image
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      Michael Valencia 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I haven't heard much about the controversy since it came out, so it seems like just an attempt at attention grabbing, really.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      I bet your right but honestly I think it puts more of a negative feeling out then positive and makes it harder to sympathize with people when they act all righteous. Give 'em a special day of the month, a holiday or something, but just let Disney do what Disney does best. ;-)

    • SoundNFury profile image
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      Michael Valencia 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      They really should not corrupt childrens' stories with their own political views.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Honestly! I'm sure there is somewhere else that they could be productively fighting for minority rights than with Disney. Like you said, just a chance to get there moment in the spotlight.

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