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One of my favorite movies that has recently been released is the Disney film Encanto. Not only is it one of the few representations for Latin America in Disney, but it highlights the struggles within a family that are often left neglected.   

Set in Columbia, Encanto is about the Madrigal family, a special family that receives “miracles” to protect and aid their community. The main character, Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, is the only one in her family who did not receive a gift and is left fumbling trying to prove herself to the family as a whole, but mainly her Abuela (voiced by María Cecilia Botero). However, Mirabel is not the only one with issues; the movie highlights all of the characters and their struggles to keep the family together and strong. 

There has been a lot of discourse on social media like TikTok, with some of the LGBTQIA+ community making the message of this movie about queerness, headcannoning characters as part of the community, and overall taking away what the movie is actually about. 

Luisa and her Anxiety/Stress

Luisa (voiced by Jessica Darrow), Mirabel’s oldest sister, has the miracle of strength. Due to her miracle and the promise of their family to help the community, Luisa is often in the situation of helping others, with all tasks. She has little to no time to herself to do things, let alone relax. Reaching the point of no return, a level of stress no one else deals with as she is the oldest daughter, having had more expectations set on her due to her position in the family. 

Because Luisa is strong, she does have a more muscular build. Some people have been headcannoning her as a trans man, which in itself, is very wrong. Not only does this take away from Luisa’s femininity, but it also negatively affects the trans community itself. There is nothing in her character that can display her as trans, this being purely cannoned due to her muscles. Her character is focused on her stress and anxiety, not her build. 

Isabela, Struggles With Being Perfect and the Marriage

Isabela (voiced by Diane Guerrero) is the 2nd oldest sibling of Mirabel. She is the “perfect” one, her miracle being making flowers (specifically roses). Due to her miracle and being seen as perfect, she is expected to marry a man from their community. At the beginning of the movie, it appears that this is something that she wants, getting mad at Mirabel when her proposal was ruined. However, she reveals to Mirabel that she never wanted to marry the man, merely doing it to appease Abuela, for the family, as this would maintain her perfect image that the Abuela stressed she kept. 

Isabela’s desire to not get married for her family’s happiness is common in Latino culture, something that isn’t new. However, some people tried to cannon her as a Lesbian. This takes away from the sacrifice that Isabela was going to make for her family. It had nothing to do with her liking women, but rather she was doing it for the sake of her family. While I am not saying that she can’t be lesbian, that is not the takeaway from her character and her struggles. The focus on her is her sacrifice for her family, not her possible sexual orientation.

The movie Encanto is about the struggle of Latin Americans and aspects of their culture that are common but are not spoken of. The movie spoke up about these issues and created a safe space for Latino minorities to talk about these issues.

Jade Zuniga

UC Riverside '24

I am a second-year Psychology major who is looking to improve my writing skills. I love listening to music, watching movies, drinking boba, and playing with my cats.
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