Although the Walt Disney Animation Studios movie Encanto has become known for its emotional plot, record-breaking music, and Golden Globe award, one of the biggest highlights from the new Disney movie is its characters — and Luisa Madrigal, the Madrigal sister who is gifted with super strength as her unique magical ability and who has become an audience favorite, was almost turned into a typical “petite” Disney princess despite her strength!
In the past, Disney princesses are almost always portrayed as finely-boned, thin women with slender shoulders and delicate frames. The closest we’ve come so far to a stockier or more well-muscled body type in the world of Disney princesses has been the confident posture of Merida, the ‘cankles’ of Moana, and the training sequences or fight sequences carried out by Mulan.
Since Luisa Madrigal is literally “the strong one” in the Madrigal family in Encanto, her character was the perfect heroine to represent a more fit, muscular, broad-shouldered woman — but Disney balked at the idea, and Encanto artist Dylan Ekren apparently had to actually work hard to get Disney to approve Luisa’s body type, even though it was literally a plot point for her character!
Luisa has also become a favorite due to her song “Surface Pressure”, which has done well with viewers despite being overshadowed by the success of Disney song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. The Disney character is also popular with audiences because she’s played by alto Jessica Darrow (who also released a jazz version of the song), and most Disney princesses or Disney heroines sing in a higher range!
Are you surprised by Disney’s hesitancy to approve a well-muscled female character, particularly since the character’s entire storyline revolves around her physical strength? According to the illustrator Dylan Ekren, “we [the artists] all just wanted to do it in a way that worked well with the style and really made sense for the character and I’m really proud of the way that she turned out…The entire team was so awesome”.
Apparently, Dylan’s method to get Disney onboard with an accurate portrayal of strongwoman Luisa was somewhat simple: he “just pushed buttons in the right order.”