In celebration of Mother’s Day Weekend, Disney inaugurated Merida from the animated film “Brave” as an official member of the Disney Princess royal court. There’s just one problem. If the new designs for Merida are any reflection on the royal court, being a princess means the opposite of everything Merida stands for. The new girly makeover has sparked online outrage. Katherine Sarafian, producer of Disney·Pixar’s Brave, spoke to Nida Caceros on the Disney Post blog about Merida’s defining qualities:
K: Merida is an adventurer and a warrior. She fights her battles, advocates for what she believes in and asserts her point of view. She adores her family, her horse Angus and her sport, archery. Merida refuses to let others tell her who she is. These are such relatable qualities for girls today. I love that there is room for all kinds of girls in the royal court, all of which are inspiring role models. Merida is unlike any of the other Disney princesses we’ve seen.
She actually has quite a bit in common with the other princesses, according to Brave writer and co-director Brenda Chapman, and it’s a big problem:
I think it is atrocious!!! I’m all the way down in Santiago, Chile at a film festival, and this hits the fan while I am gone! It is outrageous! I’ve signed the petition and given Bob Iger a piece of my mind. Since I am no longer with the company, I’m sure they could care less what I think on the matter. But they have betrayed the essence of what we were trying to do with Merida – give young girls and women a better stronger role model. She’s strong inside and out – she’s not just a simpering pretty face waiting around for romance! She was created to turn that whole ideal on it’s head! – Oh yeah… that’s why I created her… they’re just in it for the money… not the integrity. They don’t care what message they send about women, as long as it makes them a buck.
A Mighty Girl launched a petition calling on Disney to “Say No to the Merida Makeover and Keep Our Hero Brave!” In its first two days, it collected nearly 9,000 signers and today it surpassed 50,000 signers:
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.
This isn’t the first time Disney has felt the Internet’s wrath; the company attempted to trademark Día de los Muertos — an important Mexican cultural observance that pre-dates the invasion of Mexico by the Spanish — but later dropped its plans after more than 20,000 people signed a petition on Change.org in less than 24 hours. Although Disney recently changed the graphic of Merida from the sleeker cartoon version to a more accurate CGI representation, it remains to be seen if Disney will changes its plans for the plucky heroine.
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