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!