Disney’s next Disney Film Canon Princess isn’t set to arrive until 2019Edit: 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.
Recently, the American Girl company announced it was “archiving” several of its characters, including the African American doll Cecile and the Asian American Ivy. Discontinuing these two characters means that parents and children looking for diversity on the toy shelves are going to be left wanting.
In response, our friends at 18 Million Rising have started a campaign to ask American Girl to create a new Asian American doll and enlisted two tween sisters, Taylor and Aiden, to lend their voice to the cause. Their open letter and petition is after the jump. (And while they’re at it, American Girl should probably come up with some more black and brown characters too.)
Do you know what’s truly outrageous? I’m 33 years old, have no kids, and still watch cartoons. There’s one in particular that I just started watching again, and after not seeing it for 16 years I was reminded of both the hilarity (shoulder pads!) and the groundbreaking diversity of cartoons in the 80s. If you didn’t guess it by the post’s title, I’m referring to Jem and the Holograms, an animated series created by Hasbro, Marvel Productions, and animation studio Sunbow Productions.
As a young girl growing up in the 80s, there were plenty of cartoons I could watch to justify my love for cuddly teddy bears and rainbow colored horses. There was also She-Ra, He-Man’s empowered twin sister. She represented two dreams of every little girl: being a princess and kicking bad guys’ butts. However, looking back at the variety of cartoons geared toward young girls, there wasn’t much cultural diversity, and there weren’t many realistic female characters that young NOCs like me could look to as role models.