Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess, scheduled for airing on November 18, has people asking if she's going to be Disney's first Latina princess or not.
On November 18th, the Disney Channel will air its newest princess animation called “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess.” Sofia is the titular character of the movie which features the various Disney Princesses; but, the story mainly focus on Sofia who was born as a commoner who gets crowned as a princess through her mother's marriage to the King. In 2013, a full series is going to air on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior. The series itself focuses on Sofia finding the true meaning of being a princess. Apparently supposed to be Disney's first Latina princess, the character has received much criticism.
However, Princess Sofia is criticized for not being “Latina” enough. But, Disney responded that Sofia wasn't Latina in the first place. Nancy Kenter of Disney addressed the character on Facebook. According to Kender, Sofia's mother hails from the land of Galdiz which is inspired off of Spanish culture. Craig Gerber, co-executive producer for the animated movie, further addressed Sofia's heritage. Gerber explained that Sofia's mother comes from Galdiz while her father comes from a kingdom inspired by Scandinavian culture. The question on Sofia being Latina or not Latina enough originated from a statement made by Jamie Mitchell who is another executive producer. But, Joe D'Ambrosia who is the VP of Disney Junior original programming said they never actually call it out.
The question that interested people might be asking: Is Princess Sofia, Latina, not Latina, or not Latina enough?
But, will it even matter once the movie and its series after airs on the Disney Channel? There are people that are going to be sensitive to the issue while there are other people that will think this is just blowing things out of proportion.
In the case of Sofia not being Latina, it gives the call for an actual Latina princess. That would give call for Disney to have its first Latina princess. This is similar to Tiana, from “The Princess and the Frog,” in which she's the first African-American princess.
If Sofia is Latina, it is the question on whether she is Latina enough. The criticism hails from Sofia's physical appearance. By looking at Sofia, she has light skin and brunette hair. Critics of the character claim that her skin color is not dark enough.
On one hand, it would seem that the criticism is warranted; but, on the other hand, the criticism is unnecessary. Critics on both sides of the spectrum need to remember that not all Latinos or Latinas have a darker skin color. There are plenty of people from the Latino community that do not fit the skin color that's associated with the racial stereotype.
One example would be notable voice actress Brina Palencia. While Palencia was born in the United States, she has strong genetic ties to the Central American country of Honduras. In the case of Palencia, the Honduran blood is strong with her. But, her physical features do not fit the Latina stereotype.
The second example would be Armando Christian Perez, known as rapper Pitbull who was born to Cuban parents.
The third and strongest example would be actress Alexis Bledel. In terms of appearance, Bledel does not fit into the stereotype of the Latina. However, Bledel is of Latina descent. According to IMDB, Bledel's mother is Mexican and her father is Argentinian with the latter being born to Danish immigrants.
Again, there could be enough to warrant questioning Disney about having its first Latina princess. At the same time, if Sofia is confirmed to be Latina, the appearance does not warrant the criticism. There are plenty of people of Latino heritage that have very light skin and lighter colored hair.
Ultimately, are the viewers going to care or not?