By Julissa Catalan
Snow Whitea teenage princess, idolized for her fair skinwas the first Disney Princess in 1937. Since then it has taken Disney only 78 years to announce its first Latina Princess, Elena of Avalor.
Now, before we all rejoice over the franchise’s progressive move, let’s not overlook some important details.
Elena technically has not been confirmed to be Latina. According to Disney’s press release, Elena is “inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore”although she does sport a very stereotypical look with flowers in her hair, large gold-hoop earrings and a very ruffled red dress.
Some have already compared the new princess to the salsa-dancer emoji.
Elena will make her first appearance on the small screen, on Disney Junior’s Sofia the First in 2016.
When Sofia was introduced in 2012, the show’s Executive Producer, Jamie Mitchell, claimed that Sofia was Latina. Critics quickly caused an uproar, saying that Sofia was not an accurate representation of a Latina girl since she had blue eyes, fair skin and light hair.
Disney quickly issued a release saying that Mitchell “misspoke,” and Disney Junior Senior Vice President Nancy Kanter clarified:
“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. This creates a world of diversity and inclusion that sends just the right kind of message to all children,”
So the key is to say “inspired by.”
Disney’s official announcement on Elena went on to acknowledge the representation of Latino culture, saying:
“What excites us most is the chance to use distinctive animation and visual design to tell wonderful stories influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families and reflect the interests and aspirations of all children as told through a classic fairy tale.”
Again, “influenced by.”
Elenawho will be voiced by Dominican-born actress Aimee Carrerois also set to get her own spinoff, shortly after her introduction on Sofia the First.
Currently there are 11 official Disney Princesses: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida.
Elena does not meet the criteria of being an official Princess as she has yet to appear in her own feature film.
She would likely be considered an unofficial Princess or Disney heroinejoining the ranks of Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Tinkerbell from Peter Pan.
So is she the first Latina Disney Princess Not quite.