Since Snow White is 74 years old, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is 52 and Belle from Beauty And The Beast is a decrepit 20 years old, Disney, the font of all things princessy, has created a new princess, just for little girls. Really little: Youngsters between ages 2 and 7 years old.
What's different about Princess Sofia — who will star in a TV movie, and series, Sofia the First, on the Disney Channel — is that she is, herself, a little girl. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and the rest were all young women. Adults. According to the New York Times, Sofia will focus on learning, and things like "the importance of getting along with siblings and how to be a kind and generous person." But! Sofia, is, of course, a marketing gimmick: She will have "plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes," says Nancy Kanter, general manager for Disney Junior Worldwide. All of which little girls will be expecting their parents to buy.
But let's face it, little girls do not need more pink, princessy shit. They're inundated as it is. (In Sofia's defense, her dress seems to be a periwinkle blue.) Will kids love Princess Sofia? Absolutely. But while she teaches lessons about sharing, doesn't she also teach about institutionalized gender norms? Her dresses and bling are just another step on the road to hobbies like shopping and diamond-lusting, in a world where every kiss begins with vom. And don't even get me started on her being white. "Princess" is not an active occupation, like "student" or "gymnast." At least Dora is an explorer. Also, there's already a real-life Princess Sofia; she lives in Spain. As Entertainment Weekly's Kate Ward writes,
Yes, girls love princesses. But they'd also love, for example, a young math-loving character who also enjoys wearing a bedazzled top or two.
Disney Unveils Princess Sofia, Aimed At Toddlers. Why Couldn't She Be A Mathematician? [EW]
For Disney, a Younger Princess [New York Times]
Disney Debuts Their New Pre-School Princess, Sofia The First [The Mary Sue]