In Disney and Pixar’s “Brave” the main character Merida doesn’t care that she’s a princess.
She hates wearing dresses and doing her hair. Instead, she much rather be scaling mountains, riding horses, and shooting bow and arrows.
And unlike the 10 princesses before her, Merida isn’t interested in boys.
There’s no mistaking her from classic Disney princesses Cinderella and Snow White who need saving from a Prince Charming.
Instead, Merida has been part of Disney’s push in recent years to create more independent princesses beginning with Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog” and Rapunzel in “Tangled.”
So more than a few eyebrows were raised when a more slender, sparkly, and overtly sexier version of the character hit the web on Disney’s website.
This right image shows how Disney portrayed the princess on its site.
The redesign was created for Merida’s official introduction as the 11th Disney princess.
In response to the 2D character rendering, a number of protests hit the web.
Here’s an excerpt of one on Change.org. that has received more than 214,000 supporters:
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 recognised as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.
Commenters from around the world claimed the redesign lost the spunk of the fiery redhead from Pixar’s film.
Here are a few of them:
“Did you not watch your own movie Disney? She hated her fancy dress!”
“I do not want to see Brave turned into a “Babe”. Leave something for a girl to aspire to besides being arm candy.”
“There’s no need to sexualize a strong, young, active role model. Instead of making Merida fit the princess model, maybe Disney should change the princess model to fit girls like Merida.”
The film’s original director Brenda Chapman (she was later replaced by Mark Andrews) also found the changes to the princess “horrible.” Here’s what she told local paper the Marin Independent Journal:
“Disney marketing and the powers that be that allow them to do such things should be ashamed of themselves. 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!”
Since the backlash, Disney reverted the image of Merida on the site to resemble her 3D likeness from the film.
A Disney rep told EW the intent was to phase out the new image after a few months.
Though Merida’s character has since been changed back to reflect her film version, many of the Disney princesses still have more highly sexualized pictures of themselves on the site.
Here are a few of the other popular princesses who look remarkably different:
Belle has much longer, curlier brown locks.
Ariel has on blush and mascara.
Even when she’s dressed up in the film, Mulan looks ages younger than her regal counterpart.
See more of them here.
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