By Alexa Bianchi
Throughout 2016, Disney has highlighted diversity by introducing Elena of Avalor, a princess of Hispanic heritage, and Moana, a princess of Polynesian heritage.
On July 22, the television show, “Elena of Avalor,” aired and unveiled Princess Elena on Disney Channel. The Disney community and fandom was taken back as they were finally able to get a look at the first ever Latina princess.
“When I think of Disney princesses, their ethnicity or culture is not something that initially comes to mind,” said junior Gina Sorrentino. “I think it’s great that Disney is using their huge platform to bring diversity to people’s attention. It’s about time the Latinas got their own princess.”
The premise of the show is that Elena saved her kingdom, Avalor, from an evil witch. She must learn to take the town under her wing and rule as their princess. Not only does this break all princess stereotypes, in which a prince needs to come and save them from despair, it also breaks the typical standard for a princess’s appearance.
The show integrates the Hispanic heritage into its episodes by including Latino-based styles of music, like salsa and mariachi, on the soundtrack. It also intertwines the Spanish language within the script allowing Latinas to feel a sense of familiarity with this princess.
“Although I have not seen the show yet, I do think it is very important for large scale corporations to embrace and showcase the diversity that exists between cultures and groups of people,” said Sorrentino.
Students also said how young girls can relate to the diverse princesses.
“I think it’s great Disney has incorporated princesses of different nationalities into their legacy,” said junior Kayla Phelan. “The majority of young girls all have phases in their lives when they want to be a princess. It’s nice that they can now identify with one that is so similar to them.”
Another princess with a different heritage, named Moana, has emerged this year. She is the first Polynesian princess, and her film “Moana” is due in theaters Nov. 23. The movie is about a young girl who heads out to sea to save her people. On the journey, she encounters crazy situations, but ends up discovering herself along the way.
“Elena of Avalor” focuses on the fact that she is learning to take on the world by
herself. She faces problems that are thrown her way, but she does so on her own. Moana also learns life lessons on her own in the upcoming film.
“It’s definitely vital for Disney to introduce princesses of all cultures because their target audience is a young generation,” said Sorrentino. “Expressing these differences through a platform that is enjoyable for them to watch will lead to more acceptance of others in our own community. It’s also great that they’re portraying them as independent girls who can do whatever they set their minds to.”
Phelan also highlighted the differences between Disney’s original princesses and the more recent ones.
“It’s cool to see the new pattern in the recent princesses like Merida from ‘Brave,’
Elena of Avalor, and even Moana now,” said Phelan. “They are independent and confident. It’s nice to see Disney relaying this message of being able to face your problems on your own regardless of your gender or ethnicity. The princesses I grew up with often relied on a prince to save them, for example, Snow White. I like this twist Disney has incorporated into their movies.”
Phelan and Sorrentino agreed on the fact that Moana and Elena of Avalor will serve as great role models to little girls of all ethnicities. Disney is now expanding their brand with the use of these diverse princesses by showing girls of all ethnicities that they too are normal and that they too can be princesses.
“It’s important to implement the idea that no matter how someone looks or what he or she practices, we are the same at the end of the day and deserve love,” said Sorrentino.