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Disney's 'Sofia the First': What does a real Latina princess look like?

Screen shot from SpanglishBaby's #LatinaPrincess Pinterest board

Parents have been sending in photos to a blogger's call to "Let’s Show What a #LatinaPrincess Really Looks Like," in response to a recent flap over a Disney character.

Last month, when a Disney executive producer  told reporters that a new princess in the upcoming animated telefilm "Sofia the First" would be Latina, a minor scandal ensued. While some cheered such a character, there were Latino media watchdogs, parents, bloggers and Disney fans who were incensed.

Why, they asked, was Disney not making a bigger deal about the new Princess Sofia's ethnicity, making her the child of a mother hailing from a fictional country with "Latin influences" (as one Disney spokesperson explained), but little more? And why did she have medium brown hair and blue eyes? The latter controversy launched a very public, and heated, discussion of just what Latinas/Latinos are supposed to look like — a question for which there is no easy answer.

In the end, Disney clarified that Sofia — who debuts Nov. 18 at 7 p.m ET/PT on the Disney Channel —  isn't really Latina after all. Her mother comes from a fairy-tale kingdom called Galdiz that's "inspired by Spain," as Disney described it; her father hails from a fictional land that's ostensibly farther north. Sofia is bicultural, but not quite Latina.


Disney's Princess Sofia: Not Latina but 'mixed-heritage'

Disney Junior

Princess Sofia from Disney's "Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess," which debuts on the Disney Channel Nov. 18.

After a Disney executive producer commented to press recently that a new Disney princess to be unveiled next month was to be Latina - and public reaction to her fair looks turned heated - Disney is now clarifying her ethnicity. Or perhaps making it murkier still.

NBC Latino reported today that a Disney executive stated on Disney's Princess Sofia Facebook page that “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.”

A Disney producer/writer interviewed in the story described Sofia as "a mixed-heritage princess in a fairy-tale world," with her mother coming from a fictional kingdom "inspired by Spain" and her birth father from a place "inspired by Scandinavia." In other words, Sofia is bicultural.