From the moment Disney’s first Latina princess, Princess Elena of Avalor, appeared in my Facebook feed, the objections started coming in:
“She doesn’t look like me…”
“She looks like Princess Jasmine …”
“She doesn’t look Latina enough …”
One commenter suggested Disney “leave [Latinos] alone” since there are too many to fit into one Princess.
The Huffington Post said that Princess Elena “doesn’t count as Latina.” Even my best friend sent me an email regarding the new Princess, and she never cares about this kind of thing.
While the newest princess is “inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore,” to many Princess Elena is either too much or not nearly enough. Who knew there would be so much pressure to be a Disney Latina Princess?
While many claim to want one, they are always quick to scrutinize any one that comes along. I can’t help but wonder if Latinos will ever be satisfied with one.
As a non-Spanish speaking Puerto Rican, I have been criticized and questioned about being “Latina enough” myself. I have spent most of my life explaining why I don’t speak Spanish. I have had to reassure strangers that I am proud of being Puerto Rican even though I do not speak Spanish. As if language and cultural pride go hand in hand. I wasn’t raised being taught about Puerto Rican history — I sought it out. I’m not an expert, but we can have a conversation and I’m always open to learning more. And I am trying to teach my son, Norrin, the same.
I may not speak Spanish but I self-identify as a Latina. When I look in the mirror, it’s who I see. I know that I am enough. Cultural pride and identity goes beyond speaking a language or looking a certain way. It’s about knowing who you are, being proud of your roots, and being your best possible self.
Latinos are a diverse culture with a rich history. Our skin, hair, and eye color come in every shade and our hair comes in every texture. We all eat different food and even our language varies slightly from country to country. But we have one unifying trait: we all identify as Latinos, and we are all extremely proud of our culture. It would be nearly impossible to create a Latina Princess that would fit everyone’s ideal.
Norrin loves Anna, Elsa, and Ariel. (Yes, I am totally OK with my 9-year-old son loving Princess movies.) And I am excited to introduce Princess Elena to him. I don’t care what she looks like and I don’t think Norrin will either. I am looking forward to learning more about her and discovering the Latina she is. She doesn’t have to look like me for me to identify with her. The only thing that matters is that Princess Elena represents a culture similar to my own.