Disney's Newest Princess Sparks Controversey
Princesses are having a hard week -- the newest and littlest Disney princess is being called out for not being ethnic enough. And then a Supreme Court judge tells Sesame Street viewers that being a princess is not a career.
Princess Sofia the First is a different kind of Disney princess. First, she is a TV princess so I don't know how that affects her social standing with the other official princesses. She is also a child and becomes a princess, not through birth or her own marriage, but as the step-daughter of a King. The biggest news is, or was, is that Sofia is Disney's first Hispanic princess. At least that is what exec-producer Jamie Mitchell of Disney programming told reporters.
But then came questions as to whether Sofia is "Latina enough", with commenters wondering why her skin and hair was much lighter than their own. Disney quickly responded saying Sofia wasn't actually Latina at all, but of mixed heritage saying her mother hails from a country inspired by Spain, but adding:
"The lead character in Sofia the First is not Latina. She was never created to be Latina."
Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide stressed that Sofia is fictional:
What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world. All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures. The writers have wisely chosen to write stories that include elements that will be familiar and relatable to kids from many different backgrounds including Spain and Latin America.
But according to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor being a princess is a lame career choice anyways. In a must-watch clip from Sesame Street (see below), the proud Latina judge tells Abby that being a princess is okay for playing, but is not a career that you train for and plan on doing for a long time. Abby agrees to rethink her career prospects.
The prevalence of princess culture is a big deal for girls under the age of six. I love what Sesame Street does here by planting seeds of bigger dreams in little kids. (No offense to Duchess Kate, of course. She does work hard!)
Disney says that its not-so-Latina princess will also struggle with some of the bigger issues and constrictions of being a princess. Sofia may be less typical-princessy than her predecessors, but she may also have turned some people off already.
Do you think Disney has a responsibility to make princesses more ethnically diverse? Will you let your girls watch this show? Will you show them the Sesame Street clip?
Want more chaos? Last year, I was shocked at a co-sleeping advertisement campaign.