Merida was a break from the standard Disney princess motif of the thin, waify, doe-eyed princesses eager to be fulfilled by a standard prince charming who delivers her from distress and brings her into a happily ever after. Merida, “Brave’s” independent teenage heroine, will be crowned Disney’s 11th princess on May 11, and to commemorate the event, Disney has given her what some are saying is a bogus makeover: thinner body, wider eyes, and princessy hair.
Though Merida may ultimately be inspired by their competition, DreamWorks’s Fiona, from “Shrek,” a red-headed princess who uses martial arts to rescue herself from distress and who ultimately ends up finding her inner beauty in an ogre’s body, Disney’s reactionary character Merida at least learned the lesson of autonomy, which is a central value to feminist ethics. The move to make Merida more graceful and princessy has come as a shock to many viewers.
Huffpost blogger Kristen Howerton wrote that “’Brave’ may be considered by many to be the first feminist princess movie. Merida does not pine for a prince to come to her rescue, and solves her own problems without the aid of a suitor.”
This has lead Mighty Girl, a feminist website, to launch a petition on Change.org to debar Disney from giving Merida the makeover.
Their letter reads:
The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.
They have gained 19,000 signatures so far.
Offering another type of princess was a timely and calculated move by Disney, but they seem to be undoing the effect now with their touching up of Merida’s image.
What do you think about Merida’s recent makeover? Do you think Disney was right in making the change, or do you feel they should have left her the way she was? Share your thoughts by commenting below.