Disney revealed its first Latina heroine this week.; Princess Sofia will make her debut in the TV film Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess in mid-November and will be the star of a 2013 series to air on both Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Unlike other members of the iconic brand’s band of princesses, Sofia is young and her target audience is children aged 2-7.

And now the inevitable downside: Sofia looks kind of like, well…Beauty and the Beast’s Belle as a tiny little child: medium-colored brown hair, fair skin and blue eyes. Adorable, but not identifiably Latina by any stretch of the imagination.

Before anyone hops up and reminds us that Hispanic people come in all shades and colors, well, duh. However, when the first Latina Disney princess looks like the White women who make up the majority of the Disney kingdom, there’s some serious room for disappointment.

It seems that there will be some color diversity in the show; Sofia’s mother Miranda, queen of the mythical Enchacia, is darker than the other characters according to Entertainment Weekly (the picture on the site makes it seem that she is only slightly browner, for the record.) It seems safe to say that Miranda is not a villain, which is a relief–you know how the unsavory ethnic character is often depicted as darker than the But one can help but to wonder: why not give Sofia a little color, too? And why did she have to have blue eyes?

Inevitably, many will complain that those of us who demand diversity and then dare to be critical of it when it comes are simply incapable of being satisfied. DAMN THEY GAVE US A LATINA PRINCESS, WHAT DO YOU WANT NOW?

Well, I personally want to see a challenge poised to the traditional beauty standards that are upheld by Disney, Nickelodeon and the other corporate owned forces that have so much sway and influence over the tastes and preferences of our little ones. Your parents can tell you about beauty and diversity all they want, but when they rarely see that reflected in meaningful ways in the media, there can be some unfortunate dissonance.

Remember the debut of Princess Tiana in 2009? The beautiful brown girl star of  The Princess and the Frog found love in the arms of handsome Prince Naveen of Maldonia: a lighter-complexioned man with a Spanish-sounding accent of unidentified origin. He was still a man of color, but you didn’t have Disney audiences exposed to images of a Black couple. Someone thought about that. It wasn’t an accident. A Latino man in early-20th century New Orleans was not the most obvious choice of Tiana’s suitor.

To make Sofia even more trustworthy and familiar, she gets a visit from one of Disney’s most iconic characters—Cinderella—who is said to appear mid-movie to help the little girl transition into princess life. OH. And Sofia’s heritage is never discussed. We just know that she’s Latina because it’s been announced in the pre-show press; in the show, she is described as “half-Enchancian and half-Galdizian. “This is a big difference from The Princess and the Frog, where the Blackness of Tiana was touted and bragged about in press conferences.

This is what I like to call ‘diversity light:’ Disney gets to say that they’ve moved into the modern world and can curry favor with the ever-growing Latino market, yet they still aren’t challenging their most important audience with the jarring image of an ‘ethnic’ looking heroine. White girls can look at Sofia and still find their reflection, even if she sounds a little different.

Joe D’Ambrosia, vice president of Disney Junior original programming tells Entertainment Weekly “When we go into schools [to talk to young students about the show], what I find fascinating is that every girl thinks that they’re Sofia.” I can’t help but to hear “The White girl weren’t scared away by her ethnicness, halleu!” in that statement.

Jezebel’s Caity Weaver agrees that having such a undiscernibly Latina character for something as significant at Disney’s first Latina princess is an odd choice, hilariously offering “African Princess Heidi, a solemn blonde from South Africa,” “Native American Princess Virginia, a spunky white girl who was kidnapped by ‘savages’” and “Jewish Princess Alexis Cahill, a straight-talking teenager whose great-great-great-grandfather changed his name from “Cohen” at Ellis Island. (She is Methodist.)”

So the Disney princess world is a teeny-tiny bit more diverse, and that’s swell. However, the need for true diversity in youth-focused media remains great. Hopefully, Sofia will be joined by more characters of color in the near future–characters who don’t look like the same White girls kids have been idolizing forever.

  • nicki

    They definately need to give her a tan asap! Or induct Dora into the disney kingdom. Lol

  • redheadederin

    This is really sad. I think that Disney needs to talk about her heritage and make her look a little darker!

  • ?!?

    I don’t know what to say about that. I know Latinos are different races. She is a white Latino obviously. You will find this kind of stuff amongst Latinos themselves though. Look at Univision and Mexican soap operas. Mexico has a large Amerindian population. Many of the people in the country are a mixture of Amerindian and white, but the majority of people on these soap operas are white. Lots of the women on these soap operas are blonde haired and have light eyes. I think the Latino media itself puts white Latinos on a pedestal, so it is not surprising to me that white Americans would also choose a white Latino.

    They could have at least given her brown eyes and darker hair.

  • gmarie

    dear god she’s cute. I know Hispanics who look like her. We haven’t had enough of complaining about our own depictions so we start complaining about everyone else. I see what this is lol

  • Yb

    So when mestizo Latinos ask for a princess, Disney gives them a white Latina. That’s a douche move right there.

  • Leo

    I wouldn’t blame it on the Amerindian/black and mixed Latino people, there is a racial hierarchy in the Latin America. White latinos (who are usually mostly white (maybe mixed at a small % with some Amerindian or black) have the most power and money. There are many blacks and Amerindians fighting to get their voices and faces shown in media.

  • Bree

    I do not see the problem. “Latino” is not a race. There are Latino/as of European descent who look like her. There are some of African descent who look like a lot of the ladies here, and there are others who are mixed, and (gasp) some Latinos are even of East Asian descent. So, what is “identifiably Latino”? Latinos are not a homogenous group. Again, I don’t see the problem.

  • ?!?


    But if white Latinos won’t even cast Amerindians or mestizos, it’s not shocking to me that white Americans don’t do it either.

  • XoxoSami

    As a Latina I was to excited when I saw this headline I gotta admit I screamed it through my house. I’ve been saying forever how there needs to be a Latin princess but when I saw this picture I got do disappointed. She looks white. I’ll admit that I’m light skinned an look a bit pale too (even though im full Hispanic) but they could of at least given her darker hair. Even though there are some Latinos out there who are light skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes I still feel Disney is trying satisfy the Hispanic audience while still relating to the white audience. Disney should try again.

  • Xavier

    Latin people are all people whose language with Latin origin, such as: Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Catalan, Romansch

    Not to be confused with Hispanic: Spanish speakers

    Much less with Latin Americans! Because not all Latin Americans speak Spanish as a Brazilian (Portuguese), French Guiana and Canadian French (French)

    Sofia seems Latina (including U.S. Latinos), however is not a Latin American representative with Amerindian ancestry, who are the majority of U.S. Hispanics

    Better make a Princess Maya, Aztec or Inca, so it meets the expectations of most U.S. Hispanics

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    Has anyone ever watched “Hispanic” television? For the most part all of the people are very White looking. The only time I see darker people is on judge shows and talk shows that are kind of ‘Jerry Springerish’, otherwise everyone on all of the tele-novellas are very White looking. So maybe Disney is just looking at Hispanic programming and going with what they are doing?

  • Echo

    At some point, are we going to stop expecting Disney, Nickelodeon, and other mainstream media conglomerates to create characters who look like us and fully tell our stories, and begin creating those characters and stories ourselves? There were TONS of historical inconsistencies with “Disney’s Princess and the Frog” (and even though I am African American Princess Tiana looks nothing like me, but I’m also a grown woman and not a little girl so that’s more a personal observation that anything else), but at the end of the day that wasn’t the point of the story. And it’s not Disney’s point, so to speak, to present historically accurate, ethnically diverse, and racially conscious entertainment. I agree that the Latina princess looks like a just barely slightly browner version of Belle, as the author noted. And I concede that it would be marvelous if young black and brown girls could see themselves reflected in animation as well as live-action more wholly than they are. What would be truly revolutionary is if Disney and the like would completely dispense with the princess meme and embrace more diverse representations of girls and women, period. I never wanted to be a princess, and I know plenty of young girls and grown women for whom the whole princess thing wasn’t appealing.

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  • apple

    must be first white latina princess because she don’t look like most latinas i see..

  • Mike

    I KNOW RIGHT!! damn they just cant seem to get it right….if they hadn’t announce that she was Latina i would have though she was white.

  • Mike

    What in the bloody hell!!!……shes white.

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    I am SO not shocked or even upset by this. This is Disney we’re talking about, after all. So I’m not blown away that Sofia looks more like Carolina Herrera than Selena.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    hell i doubt latino people will complain. i’ve never realized how much they worshipped the white image until i lived in an all latino area. just look at the soap operas that come on that spanish channel, all the women look like the princess and the darker skinned latinas are the maids in the background.

    i see them fawning over latino babies with caucasian features and when a baby is born the first thing they do when they call people is say “omg shes so white! shes so pretty cause she came out with blue eyes!” it’s the best thing ever to be nicknamed guera or guero (a word for a light skinned hispanic person).

    i see them complaining over being in the sun and how disgusting it is that they got darker during the summer (meanwhile a BLACK ass chick like me is in the room). so if they DID make the princess darker then i’m sure people wouldn’t watch it or they would complain that she looks too dark.

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  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    also they didn’t even have the name “tiana” back in those days!

  • http://theogk.wordpress.com Kelly Hawkins

    Yep, I was thinking the same thing. Latinos are basically made up of the descendants of Spaniards and American Indians, so naturally they carry all the same skin complexes that every other colored culture in the world does. Disney really wasn’t trying to break barriers with this one.

  • i.mean.really

    Will she end up with a broke prince like Tiana did?

  • http://gravatar.com/ebony82 ebony82

    Aw, COME ON, DISNEY!!…..

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Disney…this is cray. I like the author thought it was a younger version of Belle. But I forgot this is one of those times of “diversity for diversity sake without ACTUALLY being diverse”…smh they can and should do better even though being Latino/Latina has no certain look they could have tried harder.

  • isis

    Many of them are white. come to south Florida u will see. she represents them accurately

  • Mademoiselle

    I’m still waiting on the first black Disney hero/heroine that isn’t an animal (Lion King, Frog Princess, what next?)

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    I was about to say- the author must not watch many telenovelas because all you see on them is very fair-skinned actors and actresses. The only time you see a darker person on these shows is if they’re the help.

  • Pseudonym

    There are a LOT of white-looking Latinas, fyi.

    Also, judging from the flag at 0:47, this make-believe kingdom may be based on Portugal. Anyone else think that when they saw it?

  • Paradise

    Thank you for noticing! She finally marries her prince and becomes wealthy beyond compare and what is her happily ever after…working in a restaurant…right…

  • Viva Lola

    Now, if they said this Disney princess was from Spain then I could understand the pale skin and “blue eyes”.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Actually. there are pale-skinned, blue-eyed latin@s…For example, Alexis Bledel (who is Argentine and Mexican).

  • gmarie

    When Disney first announced the frog princess move Princess Tiana originally had a different name..I want to say it was something like mabel or maddy…something grandma-ish but totally consistent with names in that era..a quick google search should bring it up

    then came the first round of backlash claiming the name sounded too “slave-like”. It was later down the line changed to Tiana

    Much like black people, with Latinos there is no one look or persona or even culture that encompasses ALL of us. I think Disney knows well at this point and definitely after the Princess Tiana controversy that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. So you do it the way that you see best fit. Especially if you’ve been sucessful in the multimillion dollar movie making business for over 40 years.. ijs ijs ijs

  • http://theblackgirloncampus.blogspot.com Peace

    Even Spaniards have olive skin and green or brown eyes. Very few Latinas have pale skin and blue eyes.

  • mae

    This is sad. Is it really that hard to give someone brown eyes, black hair, and tan skin? I see people who look like that everyday, but somehow it’s just “too ethnic”???

  • Pseudonym

    Yeah, there are a number of people of German descent living in Latin America. Also, [awkward] Nazis and Nazi sympathizers fled to Argentina and other places in Latin America to escape repercussions for their actions during WWII.

  • Apple

    I thought she OWNED the restaurant because she wanted and became a princess once the spell was casted

  • http://parkerplatform.com PARKER PLATFORM

    A lot of the darker Latinas are that way because they are a Spanish and Native American mix. So if you want darker you’ve already gotten half of the equation before with Pocahontas. Plus, more than half of the time in American TV and film, Latinas are more often than not shown as dark skin, dark hair, dark eyed women, so I for one am ecstatic to see that they didn’t take the stereotypical route. The problem really comes down to the fact that Latinos are a mix of so many cultures–it’s like trying to make an “American” disney character. You can’t because you’d be leaving somebody out. Maybe they need to do a Disney character for every different kind of Latina out there just to chill people out. Don’t forget, some Latinos are even of Chinese descent. Those are my favorite to bump into at a Cuban cafe.

  • http://YOLO# Maximus

    I honestly think that it should be maybe sisters becoming princesses since one can be white and brown. Have them have a close bond, support each other, and this would also promote equality views among children and the audience. It’s just a suggestion.

  • Oats22

    Well, there’s Aida! But, you know we’ll never get her off broadway -_-

  • Oats22

    I’m laughing because it’s pretty ridiculous. I understand that Latin@s look very diverse. Saying someone is Latino is like saying someone is European–it’s an all encompassing statement and doesn’t really say too much about what they’ll look like, their culture, etc etc etc. That being said, Disney chooses to represent Latin@s by making a character that looks the most like their white majority? That’s outrageous. And there’s absolutely nothing in the show to indicate that she is Latina in any way? Even Belle got “Bonjours!” This is pretty laughable. They didn’t even try.

  • Oats22

    They did make an American princess–Tiana. They’re from New Orleans.

  • Oats22

    Wait, this is from 2012? How far did I scroll through this site? Oh well….

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