The Disney/Pixar film Brave not only won an Academy Award as Best Animated Film of 2012, but it inspired a lot of animation fans with its depiction of the protagonist Merida, a strong, self-reliant heroine who wasn’t waiting for Prince Charming to come along and rescue her. Some of those fans may have been skeptical at the recent news that Merida is to be inducted into the stable of “Disney Princesses” this weekend at Disneyworld. Skepticism gave way to dismay when it was revealed that ahead of her “coronation”, Merida has undergone, um, a bit of work. Once a spunky young tomboy with wild hair, Merida has been made over as a more womanly and arguably sexier character. Her hair is still riotously curled, but now the curls are more artfully tousled and less plain messy. Her waist has been slimmed down, giving her more of an hourglass figure, and her gown is now (just slightly) off the shoulder. Her cheekbones have been sharpened, her eyes widened, and she appears to have learned to wear makeup. Her ubiquitous bow and arrow (kind of a big part of her character) are gone.
So what’s the big deal? Girls love Disney princesses, and who doesn’t want to be pretty? But Merida stood out as a slightly different heroine – one whose personality, not her looks, were at the forefront. By making her more conventionally attractive (and taking away the tools that defined her interests), Disney is sending the message that physical beauty comes first; that’s what really makes a girl worthy of Disney princesshood, worthy of being loved, admired and emulated.
Thousands have signed a petition at change.org asking that Disney change Merida back to her imperfect, feisty, teenaged tomboy self. What do you think?
Jennie has contributed to Imperfect Women since its inception in 2009. She writes about politics, celebrity news, and anything else that catches her interest.