On Disney Princesses and Magical Realism

So, the media tells me that we have a Latina Disney Princess. Interesting.

I have to admit that Ana’s post is the first I heard about this. Maybe it’s because I have boys? In any case, I’m not sure why people assume that she’s Hispanic/Latina.

Is it the spelling? “Sofia” is the most common spelling of the name — “Sophia/e” is an Americanized version, but it’s Sofia in most of Europe and Latin America. So she could just as easily “be” Bulgarian or Guatemalan.

I tend to agree with Ana. I don’t think she’s Hispanic — we have too many cultures and too much fascinating history to have her be from two fictional countries. If Disney really wants to reach out to us and have the first (and yes, long overdue) Hispanic princess, then they should base her on one of our real cultures. But she isn’t because I think she’s just meant to be from anywhere — which is a clever business decision, and nothing to be ashamed about.

I can’t speak for Disney, but I can speak to them. If they were hoping to not offend anyone by making her “Latina” from two fictional lands then they don’t really have a Latina princess, in my opinion. I’d love it if she was Ecuadorian and Mexican, even though I’m Dominican and Colombian myself. But “Enchancia and Galdizian” don’t mean anything to me, so while it doesn’t offend me it certainly doesn’t celebrate me.

My guess is that part of the problem is that it’s easier for the general media to lump Hispanics/Latinos into a homogenous group, when in reality there is so much diversity. Latinos recognize and celebrate that within our community, but I can see how it’s somewhat hard to navigate that if you’re not Latino. Here’s the short version: We’re proud of both our differences and the common threads that unite us. Like brothers and sisters, we might tease each other mercilessly about the little things, but when the going gets tough, we stand up for each other.

We’re a big (sometimes dysfunctional, sure, but ultimately welcoming) family.

How about celebrating our rich heritage with a real Latina princess? It’s not about what she looks like, because we are so diverse, it’s about who she is.

With our rich literary tradition (magical realism, anyone?), ancient cultures, and mix of European, Native American, and African heritages, Disney would have a fascinating movie on their hands.

What do you think?

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