We’ll soon be introduced to a new Disney princess – and this one is much, much younger. We’re talking about a niña here.
Sofia the First is a new Disney made-for-television movie and series centered on a princess by the same name whose mother marries a king. The young girl is then brought into the posh world of royalty – and even gains two stepsiblings, Amber and James. According to The New York Times, the series will play on both Disney and Disney Junior channels. Grey’s Anatomy star and Mexican American actress Sara Ramirez will reportedly voice the mother of the little princess.
Criticism has already begun to stew around the planned series; Kate Ward from EW recently expressed her dismay at Disney’s newest character, which she described as “disturbing.” The writer said to disregard the fact that the character Sofia looks like a beauty queen from TLC's controversial Toddlers & Tiaras and that her face is caked with makeup.
“All of that matters much less than the simple fact that Sofia only continues to sell dangerous, out-of-date gender norms: Young girls should aspire to be beautiful, dependently wealthy, and the object of affection for a future Prince Charming,” Ward argues.
Still, Disney's plans for the new series is chock-full of positive messages. In its announcement, the company outlined its concrete goals through Sofia the First. Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President and Original Programming and General Manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, said Sofia is a “peer to peer princess” – a “relatable” girl that experiences the same social issues as Disney Junior’s young viewers. Lessons will reportedly include how to make friends and build relationships with siblings. The television movie for Sofia the First is set to premiere next year, and the series with Sara Ramirez is reportedly set to launch in 2013.