On May 11th, 2013, Merida will become Disney’s 11th ‘official’ Princess.
Well, first of all, she’s already a princess. They call her a princess about a hundred times in the movie. So, this whole ‘induction’ as a Disney Princess can be classified as only one thing – a marketing tool. Not that anyone really doubts that, since Disney is in it to make money just like any other business. We certainly can’t begrudge them their desire to make more millions as there would be little point in running a corporation if they weren’t doing it for the money.
However, we can certainly begrudge them their habit of sexualizing their characters. If you’ve taken a look at any of the current inductees, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Belle, Aurora and Ariel in particular have become something far different from their original selves. There is just something terribly wrong with their faces, their hair, their clothes and their bodies.
Now they’re doing it again. Merida is supposed to be sixteen years old, and Disney has decided to sex her up a bit. Hmm. Okay, sixteen-year-old girls often like to look sexy, and that’s their right, but when it’s a bunch of adults that are dressing and styling them people tend to look askance at that. It’s a bit like all those kiddie pageants where they try to make six-year-olds look like fully grown women.
Here’s the thing, though. Merida doesn’t want to be sexed up. Merida shows no interest in being sexy. Merida likes riding her horse and climbing mountains. She doesn’t like to brush her hair, which is usually in knots, and she wants her clothes to be comfortable so she can have fun with her archery. Her face is round and healthy, and her red hair is in tight, slightly frizzy curls. And she’s perfectly okay with that.
The last thing on Merida’s mind is attracting a man. At least, that’s what the movie tells us. The whole premise of the movie was centered on Merida wanting to avoid marriage. She went to a witch for a spell that changed her mother into a bear just to get out of marriage! Not only did Merida not want to get married, in the end her mother decided that she was right. Merida got to decide what she was going to do with her life, and by the end of the movie she still hadn’t decided on marriage.
Disney’s Brave is a movie that parents can happily give their children. One that shows them their value doesn’t lie in attracting romance, and most certainly doesn’t lie in their appearance. She is a hero to little girls and boys for something other than the way she looks, or the fact that she had managed to snag herself a man. Now that Merida will be an official Princess, however, Disney has changed all that. Suddenly Merida is no longer good enough the way she is.
Merida now has lush waves of hair, rather than tight curls. Okay, yes, a woman can brush out her hair and have a different style. That’s fair.
Her dress has been changed to an off-the-shoulder confection that’s nothing like what she wore in the movies. Okay, fine, a woman can change her clothes, especially if she’s going to something more formal. That’s fair, too.
What’s not fair? Her face. The entire shape of her face has been changed. Those round, rosy, healthy cheeks have been slimmed down. Her face has been elongated and her eyes have now been narrowed into something more cat-like, with the outer corners tilting up. Sure, many would say she’s beautiful, but she was beautiful before and now it looks like she’s been given massive reconstructive surgery. She’s no longer even recognizable as Merida.
The poor girl fought for the freedom to be herself, and her mother realized she was right and decided to accept her daughter for who she was. Then she was subjugated by Disney so they could sell some dolls. And that, my friends, is not fair.
What do you think of Merida’s Disney Princess makeover? If you don’t like like, sign the petition on Change.org to keep our hero brave!