“Brave” Heroine Merida Gets A Disney Princess Makeover–But Why?!

Brave Merida Before After Makeover

Here’s Merida from Brave before and after her Disney princess makeover. | Source: Change.org

Merida from Brave has been regarded as one of the most badass Disney princesses in a while. She’s got no prince wearing her down or taking her attention away from archery, she’s got unruly hair and can’t be bothered by it and she’s proportioned like a normal girl who can not only stand upright but also shoot a mean arrow. But in her new Disney princess makeover, a lot of what makes Merida Merida is taken away.

Merida was regarded as one of the first feminist Disney princesses (though honestly, a lot of Disney princesses were strong in their own ways, especially Mulan, who was a warrior, Pocahontas, who was a peacemaker and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, who loved reading and the power knowledge gave her). But now people are up in arms that all of Merida’s bravery is being put on the back burner in favor of looking more like the Disney princess ideal: Her waist is tinier, her boobs are a little bigger in comparison, her hair is smoothed out and her eyes are wider and apparently coated in lots of liner. What’s more, her dress is slightly more revealing, which her character in the movie would absolutely hate.

Merida’s creator, Brave writer and director Brenda Chapman, explained that she developed Merida to be “a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn’t be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they’d be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’

People got so mad about Merida’s Disney princess makeover that they actually started a petition about it, because, you know, we don’t have enough to worry about. Petitioners want Disney to revert Merida back to her old tomboy self, which is fair–Merida herself would likely rebel against this new image, or at least be bored to death by it. But it’s also a little sexist in itself to imply that girls can’t be pretty or want to be pretty and still be strong, fierce and independent. You can be a feminist and wear a sparkly dress and mascara.

Which brings me to the only thing about the new Merida that truly bugs me: Her bow and arrow are missing. You can be pretty and still whoop some butt, and that seems to be the biggest Disney princess makeover mishap here. They made her pretty, which is fine. But why couldn’t they make her remain powerful, too?

Do you think the new Disney princess makeover for Merida is a good one or a bad idea? Do you think Merida’s character in Brave would approve of her official Disney princess look? Do you think giving Merida a makeover is anti-feminist? Tell us in the comments!


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  • Sophie Ariella

    I love the original Merida. Not the princess form one.

  • Meryl

    I would rather choose the old Merida than New Merida… I mean, geez! That’s not her dude!!

  • girlyit

    i allmost think she looks ugly in the new form

  • Jane

    This upsets me so much in many ways because this not the images represents a strong and independent young girl and hear the media trying to change it yes she looks good but it represent something that not her character

  • MyNameIsGiselle

    I personally don’t really like her the new look and I also think that there was no need to change it. :/

  • Ever Digressing

    “Kaylee Frye”… from Firefly/Serenity comes to mind.

    Or Danica (Patrick) before her own makeover (or maybe just after her first makeover when she actually looked more masculine in an ultra feminine dress and heels, kind of lunging around wide stance before she became an unnecessary pinup. Which some would argue was more about appealing to women than lessening the threat to men or attempting to gain male respect… or even recognizing she was more woman than just being one of the guys… in american pop culture, more of a fear of homosexuality/lesbianism than truly the games of men vs women. Which is likely part of the reason Merida wasn’t a full on tomboy.)

    but nah, Kaylee comes to mind more… in the fictional realm, sure Merida was less of the timid sort, but Kaylee seems more of a realistic ending to what an empowered youth in childhood might become in our various gender role wars… with Zoe, Inara and River setting up the triple goddess for supportive references too. All on the pretty side but less conventionally so… with character and caricature aspects that balance their place in the (fire/serenity) universe or the conflicts of appearances and gender roles… (‘course we do see other women, particularly the stronger sort living on the fringe planets, but I’d digress.)

    with all this outcry… there isn’t much of a thought to what sort of person Merida would become instead it seems its the same of the fantasies of parents’ dreaming of their child’s wedding or careers… an obsession with caste that in organically narrows the path of personal growth.

    Merida particularly for her universe setting as well as its reflection on our own and its historical bent… doesn’t have much room developing into something else. Will she become a pirate queen… a warrior princess (It didn’t fare too well for Xena… a lonely and complicated life.) …

    then there’s the questions of another Disney character, Lilo Pelekai, from Lilo & Stitch… which eventually does offer us a glimpse of her grown up, resembling her sister Nani and with a daughter, mini clone, of her own… that’s entertaining by contrast to the socio-political debates represented here. albeit Lilo as a child, even a fictional one, was expected to grow out of her some of her (antisocial) behaviors.. ‘course aside from the scifi fantasy elements, she was allowed to be more ‘human’ and ‘real’ than Merida that perhaps is more akin to Punky Brewster in both fiction and reality, that the public wasn’t able to handle her ‘growing up’ both physically and socially/mentally… that a a public we like strong characters but we aren’t too keen on creating strong environments and communities for them to actually live with the rest of us rather than to standout alone, ever on the outside… whether as fantasy heroes or real life villains.

    ‘Merida’ is setup to become a goddess (Athena), a figurehead, a poster child for a cause… there’s little in the way of humanity (Earth Girl Arjuna… ) for her to be.

    (as to the actual differences on appearances…. on first glance, I cringe at the shaving down of her bone structure and the plumping of her lips… the make up, distracting to thoughts, perhaps she was covering up bruises and injuries, wearing such clothing to draw attention away from them. Less the route of being abused or self injury per se than trying to keep the rest of the world off her back while she’s doing her thing… her supporters aren’t likely keen on watching women in the ufc, unless their on the sidelines… and at least that crowd can be pleased at least she didn’t go all muscular. You know it’s often worst from women, when you’re muscular and a chica than if you were fat or too skinny. ‘course though that’s more of a debate for the comics of superheroes crowd and the lady hulk debate.)

    • gg

      Gah i love firefly!

  • Sammi

    Honestly, I’m just upset that they made her skinnier and gave her better boobs. Have you ever seen those pictures saying they should make a princess with cancer? Or one that isn’t society’s idea of a “perfect” woman? I think that’s what this is like. Little girls are exposed to many things that make them believe you have to be skinny and have a good bust and nice hair in order to be desired. I kinda wish they left Merida the same.

  • Angel

    Both look pretty, as one is the classic Disney design (which can be appreciated) and the other being the strong and beautiful in a more ‘real girl’ like way which is also very amazing. Taking away the bow and arrow was a miss on Disney’s part because it’s part of her character but even in the design, it’s not like they can go back and do it again. Merida is the way she was depicted in the movie and no one can change that since EVERY has seen and fell in love with her in that form. So I’m not mad about it but they should think before they draw!

  • Sierra

    The “makeover” isn’t horrible they did that to Rapunzel as well, so that both of the digitally animated characters look in the same style as the other princesses. Imagine how weird a disney princess backpack would look like with all the other princesses as cartoons and then the two animated ones. She doesn’t even look that different from her animated counterpart only that she is drawn in a different style. I see nothing wrong with this at all.

    • Charlotte

      Same here.