Recently Disney inducted Brave’s heroine Merida into the princess collection. There was a big celebration at the amusement park to mark the momentous occasion and like any star who hits the red carpet after having some work done, everyone noticed a change in Merida. No longer the cute spunky girl with wild curly red hair and a “normal” figure, Merida sported a larger bust, cinched waist, relaxed wavy auburn hair, and paraded around in a new sparkly off-the-shoulder dress minus her bow and arrows. Filmmaker and co-writer for Brave, Brenda Chapman, has voiced her outrage and disgust with Disney for the sexual makeover of her once-empowering character. Chapman has said that her goal with Brave was to create a character who wasn’t the norm for Disney. A strong, empowered female that parents and children would approve of. Brenda has referred to the makeover as:

“A blatantly sexist marketing move based on money. I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida. When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come-hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible!”

Merida’s makeover has also received a lot of criticism online and there has even been the start of a petition to change to the character back to it’s original look. According to the petition by A Mighty Girl:

“Merida was the princess that countless girls and their parents were waiting for – a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess ready to set off on her next adventure with her bow at the ready. She was a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the ‘imperfections’ that all people have.”

I grew up with all of the Disney princesses. I think that’s why I grew up with a sense of needing to find a prince charming. As I started to grow up and move away from princesses and into more mature influences, I started to realize women could be more than just a damsel in distress. By the time I went to my second college away from home I really started to discover myself and become empowered. I didn’t have the same ideals that I had when I was a child. I wanted to be a role model for my future daughter, to show her that women could do and be anything. That’s a main reason why I’m so passionate about Beutiful. If I could just reach one girl who isn’t sure of herself, I feel like I’ve conquered the world. I like to think of Beutiful as a stepping stone for my daughter’s future. Hopefully we can accomplish a new way of thinking and acceptance through this site. That’s my goal. I think it was incredibly ambitious and admirable of Brenda Chapman to create such a unique and strong-willed character. However, we shouldn’t have put it past Disney to change her – Disney often does sexualize their princess characters. At the end of the day, Disney has a criteria of what they think little girls are going to want to buy. As parents we have to step up and guide our children towards positive role models. There’s nothing wrong with playing dress up and pretending to be a princess, it’s when you get older and are still stuck in that mindset there in lies the issue. We must teach our daughters to separate fairytale (and sneaky marketing) from reality. UPDATE: “Disney has pulled the 2D image of Merida from its website, replacing it with the original Pixar version. Perhaps we’ll be spared an onslaught of sexy Merida merchandise yet.” – Rebecca Hains BoingBoing