Disney Studios misses the point once again, said Vanesa Lorena Jalil, after the company recently launched a new princess, officially “inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore.”
Elena de Avalor, 16 years old, is Disney's first ever Latina princess, yet she fails to reflect the reality of Latin American girls, according to the author and historian, who specializes in Latin American pedagogy and education.
Firstly, Elena is physically unrealistic. Although the princess has slightly browner skin than her predecessors, she still has the common brown eyes, fair skin and light hair of other Disney princesses.
"Will we see a critical perspective of the colonization and conquest? It does not seem so."
Furthermore, the presentation of such an unrealistic model of beauty – Elena is tall, thin and has perfect face proportions – can have a devastating effect on little girls. The ideal is “impossible to reach,” explains Jalil, and therefore creates frustration and insecurity among little Latin American girls.
Worse still, the princess reinforces the fairy tale stereotype where the princess is given a passive role.
Jalil also questions the political background of Disney's storyline itself: a young princess trying to recover her throne.
“If she is a pre-Colombian princess, will the history of looting and destruction be examined? Will we see a critical perspective of the colonization and conquest? It does not seem so,” said Jalil.
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In contrast to Disney, Jalil’s “Adventuresses” series truly aims to recover the Latin American cultural and its historical traditions.
“Latin American history has a lot of examples of real women who demonstrated their skills for rebellion and for the fight for freedom, seeking equality or injustice.”
“Showing such examples to our children is the only way we can change the existing stereotypes and ensure there are true changes in our Latin American countries,” she concluded.