Disney needs to watch their own frickin’ movie…
Unless you’ve been ignoring the internet for the past couple days, you’ve seen the redesign of newly-inducted Princess Merida, of the Pixar movie “Brave”. If you watched the movie, you know Merida is feisty, adventurous, confident young lady with an affinity for archery, and her character’s original design complimented her personality quite well– the unruly fiery red hair, the torn simple dress, the beaming round face and lack of the usual princess sparkle. Finally, a different kind of princess, one who saves herself and realizes there’s more to life than finding your prince. Not that all the other princesses are worthless, but we can all agree that variety is the spice of life…. and that surely makes Merida the cayenne pepper!
Disney felt her fire needed to be put out for her to be an “official” princess. Stripping her of her beloved bow, de-frizzing her hair, lowering the neckline, trimming her waist and giving her the princess sparkle and make-up… Merida is practically the spitting image of what she didn’t want to be in the movie. Combine the appearance makeover, with her coy and somewhat “come-hither” expressions and body language, Disney’s intent is quite apparent. You can’t be a real princess unless you conform. Speaking as someone who designs characters for a comic, and as a graphic designer, I KNOW there’s a better way to both remain true to a character’s personality AND match an illustration style. Either Disney is simply lazy, or they think the original Merida won’t resonate with enough girls unless she’s glam-ed up. Either way, the transformation voices a poor message for young girls out there, and it needs to be addressed.
So, here’s what I have to say about that:
In response to the petition, started by A Mighty Girl, to Keep Merida Brave, I drew up this piece last night. It’s getting quite a good response on social media; even the A Mighty Girl facebook page shared it and (dare I say) it’s beginning to go viral with 300+ shares in a couple hours. I’m pretty psyched. Not just because the first piece of mine that caught fire is also a subject that I feel strongly about, but also because through my talents, I helped to spread the word about how Disney undermined their own rebel princess. More importantly, it raises the question about how “princess culture” affects young girls and what parents can do to raise empowered, confident, strong your girls. Mighty, if you will.
Please consider SIGNING THE PETITION, and join the 200,000+ who will fight for Merida’s image. She fought for her own hand, we got her back!
Since the onslaught of backlash broke out, a few things have happened. First, the petition itself, then the creator of Merida herself chimed in (boy, she wasn’t pleased!), and then Disney removed the “new” Merida images from their US website. This fight is still raging folks, with new twists and statements coming out every day. Me, I keep tabs on A Mighty Girl’s website, most recently, this response to Disney’s statement regarding the redesign being a “one-time stylized version”. But what about the merchandise? Girls everywhere collect their princess toys, school supplies, tshirts, shoes… will Merida be Brave or just another pretty face?
This is DISNEY’S chance to act like Merida, and be BRAVE. Break the mold. Change their fate. But will they?