Why women and girls are celebrating 'Encanto' sibling Luisa: 'She's more than just size and strength'

·Senior Lifestyle Editor
·4-min read
Some women who've seen the Disney film Encanto are praising the animated movie for including Luisa, a strong and muscular female character many can relate to. (Christin-Shelley Scott/Walt Disney Studios/Toshi Jones)
Some women who've seen the Disney film Encanto are praising the animated movie for including Luisa, a strong and muscular character many can relate to. (Photos: Christin-Shelley Scott/Walt Disney Studios/Toshi Jones)

In her catchy solo tune from Disney's hit animated film Encanto, Madrigal sibling Luisa sings that she glows 'cause she knows what her worth is. Now, in addition to not being able to get the song and it's "drip, drip, drip" out of their heads, women and girls around the internet are celebrating their own worth thanks to Luisa's strength and muscular appearance.

Christin-Shelley Scott is a member of the Pueblo of Picuris and Mescalero Apache tribes of New Mexico and says the first time she saw Luisa on screen, she was "shocked that Disney would stray from their traditional depiction of women."

Scott, who lives in Bamberg, Germany and shares her cosplay outfits on Instagram, calls Luisa's appearance a "welcome surprise."

"I saw a bit of myself in her," Scott tells Yahoo Life. "Luisa is very muscular and a lot of women in the real world are as well. My body type is — how my parents and husband call it — that of a warrior. Growing up, in Disney movies, not very many muscular women were shown and I felt out of place sometimes."

Scott has posted several photos of herself to her Instagram account, dressed in Luisa's classic blue skirt and white top and posing in ways that show off her own muscles. But Scott says she relates to Luisa's internal strength, as well.

"Luisa is different from others because on the outside she is this strong independent beautiful woman and on the inside she is dealing with societal pressure and other emotional things we all deal with," she says. "That's why Luisa's character resonates so much with women of all ages and backgrounds: because it addresses exactly the issues that in the past have been deemed objectionable."

Maribel Martinez, a mom from Arizona, went viral on TikTok recently for sharing videos of her own Luisa cosplay. Martinez says she too felt that, when she watched Encanto, she related to a Disney character for the first time in her life.

"People are used to Disney princesses being small and skinny but Luisa was big and strong so it definitely was something different, but great at the same time," Martinez tells Yahoo Life. "Now little girls and women are seeing themselves in a Disney movie for the first time. People are loving her because she's more than just size and strength, she's also very beautiful."

Leslie Pester, a California mom who recently retired from the Navy after 21 years, says it was her 5-year-old daughter's sweet reaction to first seeing Luisa, who is voiced by Cuban-American actress Jessica Darrow, that made her day.

Leslie Pester says her 5-year-old daughter, Sienna, has asked to work out with her now that she's seen Luisa's muscles in
Leslie Pester says her 5-year-old daughter, Sienna, has asked to work out with her now that she's seen Luisa's muscles in Encanto. (Photo: Leslie Pester)

"As soon as Luisa was introduced in the movie, Sienna yelled, 'Look mommy she's strong like you! I'm going to eat all my food so I can get muscles too!'" says Pester. "My daughter is as independent and sassy as they come She loves everything princess — but since watching this movie she now makes it a point to ask if she can work out with me. Nothing makes this momma prouder than her daughter looking up to her."

Georgia-based performance artist Toshi Jones has also taken to sharing Luisa cosplay photos online.

"When I first saw Encanto I loved the story and how a lot of people, especially people of color, could relate to the characters and feel represented," Jones explains to Yahoo Life. "And as a woman who has always valued physical and mental strength, it was nice to see a strong physique represented on a woman."

Jones says the movie shows kids it's OK for aspects like beauty and femininity to be represented in different ways other than with princess gowns and tiaras.

"There's no one way to be a girl or to be feminine," she says, adding that another important part of Luisa's story is her honesty about the mental pressures she faces. "A lot of strong women aren't allowed to be seen as vulnerable and soft or to express their frustrations with the weight on their shoulders. As a mother and older sister who's always had to carry a lot of the family burdens myself, it was relatable and refreshing to see."

Video: Little girl sees herself in Disney's 'Encanto'

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