Originally posted at Childish Things
Disney’s next Disney Film Canon Princess isn’t set to arrive until
2019 Edit: 2016! [Sorry!], and she’s a princess of color — Moana, a Pacific Islander. In the meantime, they are introducing a new Latina princess to its cartoon universe. Elena of Avalor will be introduced on the already popular Disney cartoon Sofia the First, before receiving her full spin-off.
It is about time that Disney spread its diversity notches to the Latina community. While it reeks of tokenism, it is still an excellent opportunity for young Latina girls to have someone to look up to other than the aged up Dora the Explorer. I’m actually surprised Disney didn’t jump on a Latina character soon, considering Dora has been so popular for so long. I hope this princess does well and that the Disney TV Cartoon princesses can join their film counterparts in inspiring young girls of color to follow their dreams and work hard and all those other themes. It’s so frustrating that each group must wait their turn basically before they can have some representation on television in a big way like this.
So far the PR is using so many stereotypical words to describe this show and Elena’s character. “Latin flair.” “Say hola.” Of course the character will speak Spanish and share Latin culture with many audiences, but the stereotypes used in the marketing already make me groan. Just as long as Elena isn’t described as “spicy,” I guess? I also hope that the show does more to actually showcase the history and traditions of Hispanic culture more than Dora’s occasional Spanish. All-in-all, this is a good move, but I just really wish children of every non-white ethnicity didn’t have to wait so long for a character to look like them.
Disney has come under fire many times before for its lack of diversity in their products. While there are several Disney movie princesses of color (Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, and Jasmine), they are often shunted to the side in favor of the white princesses.
For example, in this (randomly chosen after a “Disney Princess Set” search) Disney Princess Set from Target, none of the princesses of color are included in the set. Despite how scary the dolls look (yiiikes) (and how artificially curly Merida’s straight and not wildly curly hair is) they skipped over Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana. The set shown below includes Jasmine and Tiana, but not Mulan and Pocahontas. Who/what decides whether these princesses will be included in a Disney Princess Pack, whether it’s a doll set or princesses faces on pajamas? Also check out this article questioning whether or not the marketing for the princesses of color are comparable to the white princesses.
I hope Elena doesn’t get the same “on again, off again” treatment. The Princesses of Color deserve to be constantly included in Disney princess marketing, not just sometimes. Snow White and Cinderella seem to always be included and now with all the Frozen hype, both Anna and Elsa are constantly shown with the rest of the princesses (despite the fact that Elsa quickly becomes QUEEN in the film). I just ask for more inclusion of the PoCs with the white princesses. Thankfully, Elena will exist in the Sofia the First universe, so they can interact and not become an awkward “separate but equal” situation.
Do you watch any Disney Television cartoons? Will you be watching Elena of Avalor?