• Katie Delk

She-Ra Is More Than Inclusive, It’s Radiant

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is the letter I would hand to my younger self. 

(She-Ra and the Princesses of Power)

Dreamworks’ She-Ra and the Princesses of Power opens with rainbows and sparkles –– the perfect gay fantasy. But beyond the glitz, the show represents a spectrum of sexual orientations and genders. Characters’ sexual orientations are not blaring or their only trait, but a part of who they are, much like reality. And even though the show is fashioned for kids, it fulfilled many of my tucked away childhood dreams.


In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Adora is a white lead like most on television. From a young age, we are spoon-fed that white skin is preferable. As our minds absorb primarily white characters, white superiority is rammed down our throats. Meanwhile, Black, Latinx and Asian populations are substantially underrepresented on the screen. 


When people of color are represented, they are often portrayed as sidekicks, comedic relief or criminals, according to a research study. In turn, young marginalized community members’ self esteems and resilience against racism or discrimination is affected.


In our coloring books, the lines center around skinny people. According to Michigan Medicine, thin women are more represented on TV, and heavier women are belittled and put down. 


Our training wheels are also steered toward straight lanes, away from gay terrain. We’re told we’ll be safer that way. We’ll stay away from the menacing glares and pitiful looks from society. All the while, the purpose of “sheltering us” perpetuates the judgment and stigma around being gay. 


With surprising force, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power shatters all of these childhood teachings. 


Each princess has a different body style, from curvy and short to tall and lanky. The main character Adora transforms into a 15-foot-tall muscular powerhouse, She-Ra. Amazing, right? (The image of Adora cradling Catra in her brawny arms is glued inside my mind).


(She-Ra and the Princesses of Power)

In the original ‘80s depictions of She-Ra characters, the cartoon characters were mostly white. But in the new 2018 version, the characters reflect the diverse individuals who make up this nation. Culture is not discussed, but the variation in size and color is actually representative of women. The original She-Ra had thinner arms and legs and showed cleavage. The new She-Ra is less sexualized with an outfit that rises to her neck. Importantly, the show demonstrates heroes, especially women superheroes, are not just tall and toned. 


Princesses and wives Netossa and Spinnerella also are interracial. Did you catch that? Wives! In the original show, the two were close friends but writer Noelle Stevenson added a gay subtext. And Bow, a main character, has two dads. When he finally introduces his best friends, Adora and Glimmer, to his dads, he isn’t embarrassed because they’re gay, he’s embarrassed because they’re nerdy historians. In She-Ra, many of the characters are queer, but the most beautiful part is that their coming out stories aren’t necessary. They are just queer –– plain and simple. 


As for gender inclusivity, another character Double Trouble is gender fluid. With clever thought, Double Trouble is a shape-shifter, emblematic of their shedding of the gender binary. With no questions asked, the characters used they/them pronouns for them. In this world of radiant color and magic, the characters did not have to explain themselves. They simply were who they were, villain or hero, and lived as they chose. 


(She-Ra and the Princesses of Power)


But She-Ra goes even further than other “inclusive” shows. It gives prejudice an identity. 


The evil force and true villain, the Horde, seems to represent colonialism. With the hopes of spreading their reign and dominating the foreign force, the Horde slashes and kills creatures in the Whispering Woods. As the name suggests, the Whispering Woods is alive with sentience and magic. In the forest, we see beauty and interconnection between all beings, similar to our earth. Colonizers, the Horde, overtake the land with greed in mind. Notably, those who aim to take over the world are clones, which is symbolic of the herd-like mentality of capitalism. In the end, the princesses prevail and save the land, but only through overcoming their differences and combining their powers. 


For many though, the finale of SPOP is what cemented its importance.


*Spoiler Alert*

A lot of the time, queer stories end in death or are left ambiguous, and yes, they are sexualized. But, in the finale, after long hours of tension and hints, Adora and Catra embrace and kiss. “I love you” echoes on their lips. Finally, the two women say they love each other in a romantic way, and their love is not sexualized. Even more so, a children’s show canonized a lesbian relationship, and their love is a necessity to its conclusion. In fact, lesbian love not only saved the planet but the universe in the show. 


 *End spoiler alert*


I can’t help but think how I would’ve felt as a kid watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Would I have felt my heart swell watching two girls kiss? Would I have felt relief knowing I wasn’t the only one?


An important line is when Mara tells Adora: “You are worth more than you can give to other people. You deserve love too.” She-Ra is the letter I would hand to my younger self. It says: you are worthy no matter what shape. You are worthy whether gay or straight or she or he or they. It would say to cling to the nourishing earth and not let it fade. It would say love never dies and always wins. 








Katie Delk is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include meditating, sitting beneath trees, writing poetry and blasting ’70s music. She cares immensely about the earth, powerful women and social justice. You can reach her at kdelk@ufl.edufor more info.