Ever since my daughter was born, she has been a little princess. She rules our family in many ways, sometimes with an iron fist (just ask my son). Her name is Sofia and although her obsession with all Disney princesses ended when she turned six, we recently took her to get a royal makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Her smile says it all. Now her name will have a royal association, which she will surely love.
For a while she was entranced by Snow White, then Jasmine and for a long time, Belle. If you look closely at my daughter, she does look a little like Belle and she really enjoyed dressing up like her without having to wear a wig. It didn’t matter that Belle is French or that she did not speak Spanish, like we do. It was her story that captivated my daughter, along with Belle’s beauty on the inside and outside.
Now there is a huge debate about whether Disney’s latest princess, Sofia the First, is Latina. I have not seen an advance screening of their TV movie that will air November 18th nor have I spoken with the producers or creators. However, there are many things that have left me wondering what the discussion is really about. Mostly, I am a bit confused since it is not clear at all for me where the notion that Sofia is Hispanic came from and allegedly was confirmed later, but in a very low key kind of way. Others, like my friend Ana Flores, are not buying it.
Let’s assume that princess Sofia is in fact Latina. For many, princess Sofia the First is not Latina enough. Why? Because she has fair skin, light brown hair and blue eyes. From the trailer you cannot tell what her heritage is at all. If you were to judge on looks alone, she definitely looks more Princess Catherine (formerly known as Kate Middleton) than Selena Gomez. However, I think we all know by now that you cannot judge a book by its cover, even though the cover should help us know what the book is about.
From my perspective, the discussion surrounding Sofia’s heritage has more to do with the stereotype we have grown used to when thinking about Hispanics. My own family is a great example. When I show family pictures, many cannot believe we’re Latinos. We speak Spanish at home, cook Peruvian and Chilean food several times a week at home, have family in Peru and Chile and our playlists are full of Latino artists. But how we look makes some doubt whether we are Latino enough.
My son has dark hair and blue eyes; my daughter has light brown hair and hazel eyes, while I have brown eyes and blonde hair. Am I the most Hispanic of my family because my eyes are darker? What about my nephew and niece, who are blond and blue-eyed? They can’t be considered Latino because of the way they look?
More than focus on whether Sofia the First is Latina or Latina enough, I wish the discussion would center more on the storyline. I think it’s great that Disney is showing a single mom that remarries and how two families blend together. So many children today are going through that and offering them the chance to identify with that situation alone is great in itself. Let’s focus more on the stories and less on how characters look, just like my friend Roxanna Sarmiento says.
Read Jeannette´s blog in Spanish. You can also watch her on the Viva la Familia TV show on Univision.
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