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Enchanting Themes of Encanto

If you’ve interacted with social media lately, you’d know that references to the film Encanto are everywhere. If it’s not for the hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” you’ll hear about “Surface Pressure.” Most importantly, you’ll hear and witness the conversations sparking about this film’s accurate or authentic representation of the Madrigal family, and thus, the Latinx/Hispanic community. The explosive commentary regarding this film makes many question, why are fans responding so well to Encanto?

Released in theaters on November 24, 2021, and on Disney+ on December 24th, 2021, Encanto has received a lot of praise for its storytelling and meaning. Encanto tells the fictional story of the Madrigal family. In a magical home (or Casa Madrigal, aka “Casita”) in Colombia, each Madrigal family member is given a “gift” or magical power (e.g. healing powers, controlling the weather, seeing the future, etc.), excluding our main character, Mirabel. Throughout this story, Mirabel struggles with a sense of belonging in both her home and community and must take on the challenge of bringing her family together to save their lovely Casita from ruin. 

Diversity and Inclusivity On-Screen 

The film certainly captivates its audience for its creative depiction of the Madrigal familial powers. However, the most captivating aspect of this film is how it depicts forms of diversity within the Latinx/Hispanic community. For instance, Encanto refutes colorism (or the prejudice or discrimination individuals face due to their skin tone) with its representation of the Madrigal family. The film’s inclusion of Afro-Latinx family and community members, thus, gifts its audience with much-needed realism of the Latinx community. That said, many of us are reminded why representation matters, which is why many of us have already seen the viral social media posts of 2-year-old Kenzo Brooks and 2-year-old Manu Araújo Marque, mesmerized by their own representation on screen. If you have not, I highly suggest that you do! It was not long ago that I stressed the significance of representation in a previous MEDIAGIRLs blog, “MCU Deaf Representation.” As I will reiterate in this blog, the concept of being seen is incredibly essential, and representation in film bestows us with this power of being seen and heard. In fact, some may argue that the notion of being seen is something so much more powerful than the powers of the Madrigal family. 

It’s Mirabel’s character that helps us recognize this concept as well. Mirabel, a part of the Madrigal family but not granted a unique power like the rest of her family members, reminds us why being seen and heard is crucial. Her experience with exclusion is a real experience for many minority groups, a fact that must be rejected in reality, as it eventually becomes tossed aside in the film. If Maribel’s character represents the exclusion of certain groups, we ought to recognize her integral part in this story. If it were not for Mirabel, her family would not recognize their own dedication and her own dedication to their community. Without Mirabel, the Madrigal family would not acknowledge the piece of their home that was missing. With Mirabel’s character, girls+ can sympathize with her experience of exclusion but, more importantly, project her power of unity, familial bonds, and the miracle of love to integrate powers of inclusion. 

Image courtesy of cottonbro on Pexel

Encanto on TikTok

Encanto is gaining much attention on social media. For instance, NowThisNews, states “Disney’s 60th animated feature film with an acclaimed musical score featuring the work of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been making waves on TikTok for its diverse representation of Latinx characters on screen and its portrayal of intergenerational trauma.” As with most trends on TikTok, TikTok creators are turning to the social media platform to address the noteworthy (and relatable) topics that appeared in Disney’s film, Encanto.  

If you search Encanto generational trauma” on TikTok, you’ll see 195.6M views of several videos produced by TikTok creators that confront the characteristics of family members and motifs in the film that identify as forms of generational trauma. Generational trauma, intergenerational trauma, also called transgenerational trauma, refers to “trauma that isn’t just experienced by one person but extends from one generation to the next” (Health). This type of trauma can present itself in various ways, and it persists at the center of the Madrigal tale. Abuela, a refugee, forced to flee her home due to armed conflict, attempts to suppress her traumatic experience. Yet, Mirbel, also a victim of these traumas (feeling alienated and wishing to fit into a family that perceives her as an outcast), helps her grandmother recognize the unrealistic and burdening expectations she forces upon the family, expectations that originate from the trauma she endures from her past. As this film and TikTok creators point out, we must acknowledge and respect the consequences and effects of generational trauma on certain communities and cultures. 

Mirabel is not the only family member receiving recognition on social media. Constricted to and expected to conform to beauty standards, sister Isabela struggles to be herself. However, it is also sister Luisa that is gaining a lot of action on social media. For instance, you may have already seen Maribel Martinez, who received 36.1 million views on her TikTok video, which highlights her connection to Luisa’s character and her song “Surface Pressure.” Luisa is Mirabel’s sister, a middle child with the gift of super-strength. Similar to the other members of the family, Luisa uses her powers to assist members of the community. Luisa inevitably feels the pressures to do the best, be the best, and struggles with an identity outside of this persona, fretting over who she is “if [she] can’t carry it all” (Genius). Maribel Martinez comments in her video, saying that Luisa’s character, as she explains it, “tells [her] story” (TikTok). Luisa’s character, thus, mirrors many fans’ and viewers’ lives and signifies the laborious pressures and expectations that surround our everyday lives.

Image courtesy of Ylanite Koppens on Pexel

Encanto Soundtrack

The Encanto soundtrack hit No.1 on Billboard’s album chart, with “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” surpassing Frozen’s “Let It Go” record. However, if you want to know more about the hit song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” check out this link: from The New York Times. Instead of 

talking about Bruno, let’s talk about Encanto’s song, “Surface Pressure,” which reached the top ten on the Billboard chart (Vulture). Sung by Luisa, “Surface Pressure” resonates with many viewers as a song that is far too relatable. Luisa can be described as “a strong woman, with bulging muscles and a butch demeanor,” yet her message in this song is, “you can be strong and feel weak, be tough and feel insecure” (CNN), a lesson that we must all learn to accept. 

In essence, Luisa’s character can teach girls+ to push aside the false constructs that tell us that we have to act one way or another, that life is black or white, and that gray cannot and does not exist. Girls+ can be advocates for a world that accepts who we are, unapologetically, a place where we “know what [our] worth is,” as Luisa reminds us in her lyrics (Genius). Luisa’s character and the Encanto story, therefore, leave us with one important reflection: we may feel the pressures of being something that we are not, of being told what to do and how to act, yet, we can also, and must, take control of these pressures to reach our own ultimate happiness. 


To Learn More about Generational Trauma Visit: Health.com and the APA 


Aryana Martin, Editorial Intern, is a student at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass. She studies English with a double minor in Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies. She’s passionate about reading, writing, learning, and creating new relationships and experiences. She is thrilled to contribute to the MEDIAGIRLS mission.

Featured image courtesy of encantomovie on Instagram

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