When Disney Pixar released Brave
last year, the animated movie’s spunky heroine Merida was like a breathe of fresh air. With a messy mop of springy orange curls atop her head, Merida is sporty and fierce, determined and strong, and rides on her horse through the Scottish Highlands shooting arrows. She isn’t anything like the typical female protagonist in children’s films—a prissy, pink-wearing princess who’s waiting for her knight in shining armor to charge through the castle door.
Merida and her fiesty ways quickly captured the hearts of children and their parents. It was clear that America was hungry for a female protagonist, an anti-princess, a role model for little girls, somebody who could kick Cinderella’s butt (although Merida would never do that because she’s not a bully).
But now some moms are concerned that the girl with an adventurous spirit and independent mind might be losing some of her girl power. Is this really something to worry about?
This week, Merida was officially welcomed into Disney’s Princess’ Royal Court…after undergoing a mini makeover. Here’s the before… And here’s the after…
Notice her curls are more wavy than springy, her waist smaller, her cheekbones higher, her pose sassier, her mouth prettier. And she has lost her trusty bow and arrow. She has matured and looks more like a teenager on her way to a Taylor Swift concert than a determined young girl about to take aim at an archery range.
Moms are in disagreement over Merida’s new look. Some are disenchanted and think the new Merida is too sexy for young girls. They’re mourning the loss of her girlish, sporty look.
Over at Glamour.com, Petra Guglielmetti writes.
Some moms are so outraged that they’ve started petitions on Change.org asking Disney to bring back the original Merida.
Carolyn Danckaert, co-founder of A Mighty Girl, a girl empowerment website selling books, toys, movies, and clothing for “smart, confident, and courageous girls”, launched a petition on Change.org
a few days ago, and over 18,000 folks have signed on so far.
Merida inspired countless young girls by showing them that they too could go off on adventures and save the day; that it’s not about how you looked that matters but what kind of person you are. With Merida, girls finally had a princess role model that looked like a real girl, complete with the ‘imperfections’ that made her such a unique and appealing character. By redesigning her to fit the mold of the Disney Princess line and making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in her appearance, Disney is sending the message that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to this narrow definition of beauty. With our petition, we’re calling on Disney to return to the original Merida that we all know and love and to keep Merida Brave!
But some feel these moms are overreacting to what they’re calling a benign makeover.
Kristine Cook of the blog MamaPop.com
Certainly, this type of thing is subjective, but I’m, ah…I’m having trouble seeing the scandal here. There’s SLIGHTLY more skin around the shoulder, her hair looks combed, and she’s wearing relatively modest dress, but with more gold stuff on it. So, um, be furious?
Cook also reminds us that women sometimes get dressed up—and when they’re taking off their play clothes and putting on a ball gown that doesn’t mean they’re changing their interior qualities. We might lounge around the house in sweats in the morning, put on our sporty gear for a hike and then when we go out to dinner we slip into a dress, do our hair, wear a little makeup. When we put on our fancier attire, we can still be that independent, adventurous person.
“If a woman changes her clothes, IT DOES NOT EQUAL that the woman is therefore better one way or another,” Cook writes. What do you think of the Merida makeover?