So Disney is notorious for having a princess problem. The message they send to little girls (be pretty, wait for a man, live happily ever after) isn’t exactly one of female empowerment. So many people were super pumped when they went to see Brave, which tells the story of Princess Merida who has to defeat a curse using only her bravery and her sick archery skills. She doesn’t wait for a man, she solves her own problems, she’s independent, and she has a realistic body type (I mean, she’s not fat, but she’s not a Barbie). You can see her original form above, on the right.
But Disney, of course, can’t just let a good thing happen. Merida is being crowned Disney’s 11th princess on May 11th and received a makeover. She’s thinner, her eyes are wider, her hair is using some miracle product to make it less frizzy. Her new image is above, left.
So the internet is in an uproar, obviously. Peggy Orenstein, the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter who is apparently an expert on princess culture and how it affects little girls (what? why is this a thing?), thinks the whole thing sends a bad message: “In the end, it wasn’t about being brave after all. It was about being pretty.”
And of course, there is a change.org petition:
“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.”
I grew up with Barbie and Cinderella but also a lot Eloise and Hermione Granger. Girls need more strong role models in this world and Merida was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, Disney disagreed.