With all the talk about diversity in entertainment right now, Disney couldn’t have joined the conversation at a better time.
The company introduced us to Princess Elena of Avalor on Thursday, to much applause from the online community.
While Disney has been cognizant of introducing a wide variety of princesses in the last few decades (Princess Jasmine, Mulan, Princess Tiana), they have yet to introduce us to one inspired by the Latina culture. Until now.
Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in 2016. She will appear on a special episode of Sofia the First, the network’s hit show geared towards preschoolers. And, rather than a feature film, Princess Elena will get her own spinoff series on Disney Junior called Elena of Avalor.
Disney described Princess Elena in a statement as “a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore.”
And while some are calling Disney out because Princess Elena is not exactly Latina, we think Disney should be applauded. Of course, the stories the network is telling are fiction, so the heritage of their princess is not always going to be spot-on. The point is that it gives young girls a diverse pallet of beauty and role models.
But there is a bigger picture to the Disney princess, aside from heritage.
More than her outward appearance, Princess Elena will, no doubt, be an intelligent and confident young woman coming into her own and teaching girls some valuable lessons along the way, and that’s something we can all appreciate in a world where a lot of children’s “role models” make me blush watching them. So thank you, Disney, for offering girls a different kind of woman to look up to. One who actually wears clothes and takes the time to think about right and wrong. More than the color of her skin, these personality traits are what will make Princess Elena stand above the rest.
Disney also deserves praise for the timing during which they chose to announce their new princess. Between the Super Bowl’s objectification of women, heated discussions of feminism and women being left out of the Oscars race, we ladies need some positive news.
Princess Elena won’t solve all of the problems that media geared at young children needs to address, but one positive step from one of the most powerful networks for children is a big statement that I’m looking forward to seeing.