Disney faces backlash over new “sexy” Merida; pulls new image from web site as a result

UPDATE, May 16, 2013Disney has stated that 1. the 2D image was never on their official web site in the first place (though, oddly, it’s all over the official Australia/NZ version of the Disney Princess site–which may have been the source of any confusion), and 2. they will not be retracting the new Merida.

Click here for my new post, in which I argue they missed the whole point of the petition. Clearly, we still have work to do.

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On Saturday, Disney held a “coronation ceremony”(1) for Merida, star of the Disney-Pixar film Brave. In the coronation, Merida officially became part of the Disney Princess lineup. This means that her image has been added to the 2D collection of princesses in a cartoon form that fits stylistically with that of her princess peers.

Unfortunately for Disney, the new cartoon image of Merida that Disney created for the lineup overshadowed all conversation online about the coronation. The reason? The new cartoon sexualizes Merida.

That’s right: Although Merida was created by a woman as a role model for girls, the male-dominated consumer product division at Disney has ignored the character’s intended benefits for young girls, sexualizing her for profit. Merida_web_small

merida-princess1-550x546

Compared with her film counterpart, this new Merida is slimmer and bustier. She wears makeup, and her hair’s characteristic wildness is gone: It has been volumized and restyled with a texture more traditionally “pretty.” Furthermore, she is missing her signature bow, arrow, and quiver; instead, she wears a fashionable sash around her sparkly, off-the-shoulder gown. (As Peggy Orenstein noted when she broke the news of the redesign, “Moms tell me all the time that their preschool daughters are pitching fits and destroying their t-shirts because ‘princesses don’t cover their shoulders.'” I’ve heard the same from parents, as well.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. Some might argue that the changes to Merida are simply a result of her being rendered in 2D, but these are deliberate, calculated changes. She has been presented in 2D form in children’s books since before the movie was released, and she’s still looked like herself.

No–these changes to Merida’s appearance are significant. Sadly, they align with the American Psychological Association’s definition of sexualization, which says that sexualization occurs when any of the following four conditions are present:

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

Since Merida is beloved for breaking the princess mold, proving that a girl needn’t be stereotypically “girly” to be a princess, realigning Merida’s look to echo the other 10 Disney Princesses’ narrow range of appearances is a huge mistake. 

The backlash from parents has been tremendous; a petition on Change.org already boasts more than 120,000 signatures. The petition explains:

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.

What’s more, Brenda Chapman–Merida’s creator–has gone on record voicing her outrage at this redesign. Chapman argued:

They have been handed an opportunity on a silver platter to give their consumers something of more substance and quality — THAT WILL STILL SELL — and they have a total disregard for it in the name of their narrow minded view of what will make money. I forget that Disney’s goal is to make money without concern for integrity. Silly me.

As of today, Disney has quietly pulled the 2D image of Merida from its website, replacing it with the original Pixar version. Perhaps we’ll be spared an onslaught of sexy Merida merchandise yet.

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If you haven’t yet signed the petition, you can do so at Change.org and at MoveOn.org.

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For further reading: To view more of my posts on Merida, click here. For more of my posts on the Disney Princess brand, click here.

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Do you like this post? Follow Rebecca Hains on facebook or twitter.

About the author: Rebecca Hains, Ph.D. is an associate professor of communications at Salem State University, where she teaches advertising and media studies. Her new book, Confronting Cinderella: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, will be released by Source Books next year.

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(1) Disney holds “coronation ceremonies” for its princesses about a year after a film’s release–a great way of bumping up interest in a princess after her film’s momentum has died down.

484 Comments on “Disney faces backlash over new “sexy” Merida; pulls new image from web site as a result

  1. Great news that they’ve pulled the image from the website. The proof will really be in what they do next. It’s good they know we care and are watching.

    • The traditional ‘Merida’ character reminds me of Florence and the Machine and the way she has positively influenced the representation of strong females in media. Sexualising role models frustrates me…the celebration of female sexuality is not the problem…it is the changing of her exterior in such a way that worries me and I hope that this nod of thing will not influence the younger generation to feel pressured to change themselves

    • What’s the big deal, what about the other characters, they all look overly sexy ad beautiful to me. I think that no matter how the character looks, people will still exploit the images.

      • Yes, we’ve been complaining about what Disney has done to the other characters all along. It’s only the case of Merida that has gained so much traction.

        • The damaging effect I see is that young ladies sometimes go to all means to try and define beauty by what Disney portrays. But people even use dragon characters to exploit. I think this is a great post though, we should all share

        • In my opinion I find it silly to get so worked up about a Disney character. Disney is “imaginary”, everything is happy and pretty. If the characters started looking normal, it would mean changing “Disney”. If you don’t want your child to grow up believing false propaganda, then give them real material. Read them books, with very few pictures, and let them imagine. Debating whether a cartoon is too sexy or not, seems silly. Look at every other disney character..even Mulan who was a warrior princess has been sexified. This is not new.

          • Okay, but there are still lots and lots of children who really like Disney princesses (if there weren’t, then why would Disney be such a valuable and influential enterprise in the first place?), and chances are they’ll like the newer ones (like Merida) more than older ones. Many of the kids using these Disney products are little toddlers. They are still learning about the world around them through playing. If they see that the princesses that they respect and value look a certain way, they’re going to emulate them through that certain appearance and grow up thinking that they have to look sexy and mature in order to be like the princesses they look up to. Instead of focusing on character and integrity and self-confidence, which are sometimes hard to spot in princess movies, the kids will imitate the princesses in the way that is most available and immediate and, therefore, one of the most important, to them: appearance. And the truth is, that’s neither okay nor healthy.

      • so typical just too make money… and alot off parents dont care either… they let their school kids walk around shopping centres half naked and think its ok … its a pity class has been replaced with ass…. I grew up with disney and it had alot off influence on me as all kids… its so disgusting they exploiting children this way…… music videos are the same… if i had a teenage daugher i would not let her watch any music shows… its all like soft porn these days… all to make money…

        • Amanda, what a teenage girl chooses to wear is her own business, and you don’t have the right to shame her for it. You are only perpetuating the notion that women’s bodies belong to the public rather than to themselves.

          What female music artists choose to wear on stage or in their videos is also their own business.

          The issue here is a cartoon character intended for children, not what teenagers are wearing.

          • Its funny that you think just teenagers today dress like that.

          • While you are right it is their business it is still disturbing to to see little girls under 10 mimicking this form of… expression.

            • Yes I totally agree! There is a line and kids are going over board and the adults in there world are letting them do and wear what they please any where any time.
              And one day when they can’t do any of those things, do to work or court, or for what ever reason they can’t and don’t handle it well! Monsters!

            • I totally agree, however, little girls under 10 are not teenagers and their clothing choices are not the fault of older girls or women.
              The widespread notion that what a teenage girl or an adult woman wears should be policed by complete strangers is also quite disturbing in the context of society’s general attitude to women’s bodies.
              If you have a daughter or son under the age of 10 you are solely responsible for what that child wears. Perhaps s/he *wants* to dress like a teenager but it is entirely up to you to actually provide the clothes.

          • That’s because you make a practice of shaming young women for exploring their sexuality in their own way and judging teenagers for following fashion. A teenager ‘s choice of clothing is a) none of your business and b) a normal way of exploring and declaring her identity, since clothing is one of the few areas of her life in which she actually gets to exert any control.
            It’s regrettable that you think you have the right to police the dress choices of strangers, and very disturbing that you think a teenager who happens to bare her midriff deserves to be shamed for it.

    • Am I the only one who can’t tell the difference between the Merida overhaul from the original? This is controversy? A god damned Disney cartoon? 120,000 signatures on a Change.org petition. We’ve got legislation going through basically making everyone a criminal on the internet, republicans are trying to get rid of overtime, and this is what we’re getting up our own ass about? You get the country you deserve. Stop bitching about being taxed to much and our politicians spending too much, or your rights are being attacked if this is how you want to prioritize.

      • The perceptions of the changes aside, yes, this is controversy. We have (at least I do and I suspect all of my friends) have the capacity to be concerned and active on multiple subjects at the same time. It’s not like I have to choose just 1 social issue to be outraged about. Being active and vocal about this does not mean I’m not also vocal and active about other issues as well. Our children are out future and we should be very concerned and active about what images and messages their little sponge minds are absorbing. It goes all the way from “No I won’t let you watch that (or play with that or wear that) this is better for you” to voicing our opinion on the public forum and to the companies that market directly to our children on what we think are appropriate and inappropriate messages, or changes to existing items. You don’t have a problem with it. That’s fine, that’s your prerogative and unless it’s directly and tangibly harmful to your young ones, I won’t say a word. But don’t come blast those who are taking a stand and voicing their opinion to the contrary just because there are “bigger issues”.

        Just my own 2 cents.

        • Unfortunately I think the biggest issue here is that a lot of people don’t understand how the industry works. What you have here is 2D hand drawn concept art that you’re comparing to a previous final product from a 3D render. You have to realize when something an object is built in 3D, the spacial perception is going to change radically. Another thing people don’t understand is that in any cartoon, features get exaggerated, I don’t care if it’s a female, or male character, or even a dog or a banana, the physical features get exaggerated. Honestly working in the industry myself, I can’t even tell any physical differences apart knowing that it’s concept art. They only real difference is she’s wearing a different dress and doesn’t have a bow. If you don’t believe me, look up all the concept art from any Star Wars movie, the concept art is drastically different than the final product. Personally I think this is nothing more than people going out of there way to look for something to be offended by. Barbie/Matel has been legitimately getting away with this for decades. Parenting starts at home, not at Disney’s concept room, and they shouldn’t have to answer to the public for some crappy concept art that leaked on the internet. If you don’t want your kids objectified by something, explain it to them, they’ll understand it more than you think.

          • I have no argument with any of that. What I took exception to was the attitude of “There are bigger things to worry about, why are you wasting your time on this.” That makes the assumption that I’m (or the collective “we”) am ignoring everything else in favor of this one thing. And It’s my own opinion maybe, that being concerned about what’s marketed to children is pretty darned important. Even if the issue at hand is more on the subjective side, it’s good to raise the point to the companies who do that we are watching and we do care. Parenting does indeed start at home, and this is a part of that. My last word on it :)

        • How can one entertain this nonsense amidst multiple legitimate concerns without realizing how childishly absurd it is?

          You’re worried about the starving children of the world that go to bed hungry. But you’re also upset that someone drew a cartoon character in a way that, with the application of gross overwrought exaggeration, appears sexual to you (but not children or rational adults)?

          Maybe your ‘outrage’ is clouding your judgment.

          • Yes. Believe it or not, it is possible to have more than one matter concern a person simultaneously. Why should we not be both concerned with, say, starving children and ALSO with issues that impact our own children in our own homes?

            Also, if you can’t see what we’re discussing here, you might want to read further on the concept of sexualization. The APA would be a good place to start.

            • I was commenting on the lack of perspective that allows this issue to be ‘seriously’ entertained alongside other legitimate concerns. Sort of like noticing your fingernail has been chipped after your arm has been cut off.

              You included the APA definitions in your original post. I’m not capable of the sort of imagination it takes to apply those definitions to the evolution of this cartoon.

            • I don’t understand why you argue this matter can’t be taken seriously. The fingernail/arm analogy really doesn’t work.

              For a more apt analogy, consider the way a student’s college semester might run. A student can take both biology and media studies the same semester, and take equally seriously final essay assignments on cancer and representation in children’s television. The results will weigh equally in the student’s academic progress, and the importance of the former doesn’t render the latter less worthy of one’s time.

              Both can be seriously entertained because both are legitimate concerns.

            • My analogy is meant to convey that I don’t take this issue seriously. Your immediate reply is proof that my analogy does work. Your analogy conveys that you do take the issue seriously, and it works well for your position.

              Your APA definitions are certainly not as subtle as the observations you use to justify their application here. I see a bit of irony in your efforts to make this real to me.

              All that said, thank you for discussing it.

            • “you argue this matter can’t be taken seriously”

              Your first sentence. My analogy is meant to reiterate my position.

            • Oh. Well, in the sentence you quoted, I was paraphrasing the first sentence of your post. My paraphrasing your first sentence doesn’t “prove” anything about the analogy that follows.

              Anyway, thanks for clarifying what you meant.

          • You are correct, and I apologize. My confusion began when you correctly paraphrased the sentence that my analogy claims to be sort of like.

        • yes very true because facts like these affect children. Children will be the future of the country. So this is not a petty issue.

      • Hey have you ever done any research on advertising in the media? Have you ever watched the documentary about Edward Bernase (Freud’s nephew) who basically, propelled the corruption of society for corporate ends? Have you ever read the work of Gerge Gerbner: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic38/gerbner/? Hey Lady time to get your head out of the sand, your innocent corporate rhino might just come and ? watch your little tooshy. Whilst I doubt you would ever read Derrick Jensens “A Language Older Than Words” – I wonder why rape statistics are on the increase?

  2. This makes me sad that in this day and age,that’s all that counts. I’m shocked they let her keep her red hair. Sort of. Hollywood is prejudiced against red hair.

  3. It looks like they’ve just adjusted their new version to include a bow… the original version is not there.

    • Kate, where are you located? Can you post a screen shot of what you’re seeing? I see the original cgi Merida now.

          • Yes, apparently the Australian/NZ site still has the new Merida. Either someone from the Disney Consumer Products headquarters needs to let folks in other territories know to make the change, OR they need to be clued into the fact that folks around the world are critical of this change to Merida.

        • That illustration uses the same proportions as the CGI one. The impact of colour palettes can have a shocking effect on a character’s depiction. When a less saturated palette is used, for example, it produced a very different effect on the t-shirts: http://www.stitchkingdom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/meridacoronationtshirt.jpg

          Thing is, the images here and the images in the storybooks that are referenced at another point on this page — they all use very similar, if not the same, proportions. A quick Google image search reveals that Merida’s 3d body model used the same proportions.

          I think caution needs to be used here, as this is quickly turning into a dogpile. Does Disney need to be made aware that the customer base appreciates the character as-is, and doesn’t want her overly dolled up? Absolutely. It’s the right thing to do. But I’m beginning to see people jumping on the image with critiques that simply aren’t true — and if we’re worried about what Disney’s princess imagery can do to children, then I’d say we should be even more concerned about the impact that it has when we, as parents, obsess over a fictional character’s shape to the point where we ourselves are distorting it to fit our own agenda. There is balance to be had, and the image used here: http://home.disney.com.au/disneyfilms/princess.html — it’s not that bad at all. It is, in fact, a very good translation of the character model into 2d art. Perhaps thin out the blackline around the eyes and restore the dress to the greater cover it originally offered her shoulders, and it would be spot on.

          • Northcott, I’m pretty sure that if the 2D character didn’t have so much eyeliner, had the original neckline, and wasn’t posed coyly with her head at a preposterous angle, there would have been few complaints.

            But since that’s not the case, and since little details matter so much, I’m glad the girl empowerment community is stepping up and speaking out about the issue.

            • Ted: There are several shots in the original promo art, the character stills, and in the movie where the lighting creates a contrast reminiscent of what you’re labeling as “eye-liner” — which, incidentally, I think is dangerous to label as “sexualizing”. That brings us down the very dangerous path of presuming that women wear make-up or want to feel pretty simply to be better sex objects. Additionally, as an artist you well know that strength of contrast is required for clear delineation in simplified/cartoon 2d art. Do I think they went overboard? Absolutely. But a lot of people seem to be looking to toss the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. Some leeway has to be allowed. There must be a middle ground here.

              Rebecca: I agree that Disney fumbled the ball here, but to be fair, this is a ball that requires great subtlety and is fairly new territory for them. Mulan, for example, was an easy step: she started out 2d, and so there was no potential for mis-translation from one form to another. Merida’s another thing entirely. I am glad that this is being addressed, and given how market-driven Disney is there’s little doubt that they’ll step up their efforts to rectify it in the face of the backlash they’ve received; that said, I think this is also beginning to verge on a witch-hunt where many people are expressing themselves in absolutist terms and/or demonizing a company that, in the grand scheme, has attempted to be a socially beneficent force (that they fail or make mis-steps is unquestionable; that the effort is there is another thing entirely).

              The differences are subtle. There is, however, a vast difference between bashing a person over the head and constructive criticsm. I believe the latter is more productive here, but I’m seeing a great deal of the former instead: people going so far as to use the hair, of all things, as an example of how she’s sexualized here — when, really, can you think of a better way to draw mussy hair in the relatively abstracted style that’s utilized for their characters? I can’t — and I worked as an illustrator for a decade and a half. And I specialized in this kind of thing.

              Additionally, some of this varies from person to person. You see the first pose as being flirty or sexualized — I don’t. At all. To be honest, I find the idea kind of revolting. That’s not meant to be a personal jab, just that the image doesn’t present that notion to me at all, and trying to reframe it to view it through that lense is… well… disquieting. It’s an ugly cognitive leap. I just see it as playful, questioning, challenging — the kind of body language and facial expression that might be displayed from a confident person showing amusement at a challenge.

              Again, I believe it’s a good thing that Disney’s been confronted over this, and I think they need to find a new way to visually bring that character into their line (more subtlety is better, in this case) — but I think there’s a real danger in pushing the criticism too far. When it becomes one-sided, when it becomes aggressive rather than constructive, I think the lesson it teaches children is just as toxic as the negative influences we’re striving against.

              Thank you for fostering the exchange of ideas on this subject.

          • My first response was to say, huh, there’s not a lot of difference between the two. And honestly, the differences are small. But when I stopped and looked with my artists eye, and began to really dissect the new image, I started noticing what had been done. While individually the changes are small, together the impact is not negligible. For one thing, the eyes are tilted and the addition of the bold black line gives the appearance of both make up and a lower lid. When contrasted with the very light, wide open eyes of the 3d model, the difference is obvious. As artists, we learn the visual cues that enable us to communicate our narrative. Art is all about the manipulation of symbols to communicate. A good artist knows them well. Slanted eyes with slightly lowered lids are used to denote slyness. Eye liner draw attention to the eyes and is a token of sexuality. Why do you think it was so strongly omitted in the 3d character? Wide open eyes denote innocence and wonder. What a contrast. When you start piling on the rest of it… She has a definitely narrower waist in the new version. Disney also went from a a covering sensible neck line to an off the shoulder decolletage. The neck line definitely drops. They are all subtle changes, but as an artist, taken together, it smacks you in the face. “Ohhhhhh, I see what you did there! I get it…” Thing is, artists aren’t the only ones who see it. The average Joe might not be able to explain the differences because he hasn’t been trained to do this sort of thing, but it all still registers. It’s like that song in the mall you know? 20 mins later you’re wondering why you’re humming the theme to Titanic. you never registered it, but you definitely HEARD it, you know. Same here.

            • There is NOTHING wrong about Meredia’s new look. Are you all prunes? Cindy got a make-over but I didn’t complain or like it. She now has a wisp of hair out of place! Furthermore- everybody went into a rage over Tink’s image in 1950’s but Walt did not change his adorable “money-making” pixie- NOW that everybody adores! Go feed the birds you sour-puss mothers and save the planet, don’t worry about Merida’s new regal look. After all girls Do Grow-up. Get off the wagon for God’s sake!

            • Ed, really? I’m the parent of a young boy, who does watch all sorts of Disney movies, and I want him as well as young girls to have positive role models in these princesses.

              I think the question is why does Meredia NEED a new look? What was wrong with her old one?

        • Amy is right. I just clicked in the link and it is the sexy Merida, not the original.

          • They must only have made the change in certain (eg, US) markets. What will it take to have Merchandise Merida pulled globally?

  4. Now we just need to get Disney to fix Belle, Mulan and Pochahontas.
    They’re not as noticeably changed as Merida was but still changed from original form to look sexier.
    I have four daughters and Disney is not something I want to promote to them right now.
    Take note Disney!

    • Anna! you are right.
      I grow up on the 90s early 2000’s princess (Mulan and Pochahontas, as well as Ariel and Jasmine) and i just went into the Disney website and wow!, the first two look incredibly different than the way i remember them from the movie, Mulan especially, she looks rounder; Pochahontas is wearing make – up and has higher cheek bones than i remember- though i may be wrong.
      what i also noticed was how several characters eyes, mainly Merida and Rapunzel, don’t look very real, they are overly large- very similar to that of the Japanese anime characters.

      • Proper grammar and punctuation will make stronger a statement for developing young women than pretending that cartoon characters should be role models to strive towards.

        • First of all you are missing the point. It is because she is a cartoon, or to be exact a character that is loved and idolized by young (and older) girls that there is a problem; in a nutshell it is the taking of a beloved character and changing her so she can fit into the “normal” of what beauty should look like.
          Yes parents are the ones responsible in educating and raising a strong smart girl into a strong smart woman, but there is nothing wrong with using outside examples, both real- such as amelia earhart, and fictional- such as Merida.

          Secondly, you didn’t know when you commented but English is not my first language so yes my grammar and punctuation are not top notch, especially at 12am.

          • Actually, you’re missing his point. Seems your English is greatly improved over your post as Maya. So if you try, you can be a better example. Let’s not teach our young ones that there is always an acceptable excuse…

            • Perhaps teaching them to be gracious to people of other cultures in their learning process is also a good idea.

          • It was evident to me from reading your post that English is not your first language. No worries. Your points are terrific!

        • George,
          Disney and most of the modern media industry are constantly producing “role models” for young women to strive towards and have been for most of the last 100 years- for some reason always based on their sexuality!
          If we show girls that success is achieved by looking sexy, why would they believe in education of any sort? For that matter,why can’t we have positive realistic role models and have literate children?
          I think you’ll find that aspiration and commitment to learning are usually linked.

        • George,
          not only is your comment quite rude, it contributes nothing to the discussion.
          It’s also quite ironically ungrammatical.

  5. Children’s media is an area particularly resistant to change, and particularly resistent to promote gender equality and diversity. I wonder why is that. I work with a team of very cool people coming from Italy, California and Argentina to change this. We publish an iPad magazine for kids in elementary school called Timbuktu Magazine, and this is exactly the kind of things that we don’t do. I’d love you to check it out, if you’re interested in an alternative approach to entertainment for kids. http://www.timbuktu.me

  6. In this instance I see how the depiction is not true to the character. As a third wave feminist, however, I want to be careful in general about demonizing sexuality and/or men’s physical desire for union with a woman. Archetypally, young Artemises can grow up to be Aphrodites – which is not shameful bu is a part of the natural development of many women.

    • The problem is that Disney and many other mass-media markets are trying to turn our Artemises into Aphrodites AT FIVE YEARS OLD. Sexuality is something that should be celebrated as adults, not as grade schoolers. We’re shoving our girls in particular faster and faster toward adulthood, and it’s just too soon, both culturally and psychologically.

      • Wendy, that’s right. It’s age compression, plain and simple: Barbie dolls used to target eight-year-old girls, but now they’re wooing the three-year-old set. There’s no need for it. Adolescents certainly benefit from healthy representations of sexuality, as Weavingfox said; however, Disney’s emphasis on glamorous beauty and romance for the preschool set is unhealthy.

        • Quantifiably unhealthy. Nothing short of a ‘body blitz’ as I wrote in the harm duly noted in the APA Task Force +Packaging Girlhood.com post on the early sexualization of childhood. “making cash registers go ‘ka-ching’ and kids’ psyches go ‘ka-boom.’

          The corp creation of public health problems vis a vis age compression is short sighted greed, monetizing and profiteering on the backs of kids with zero concern about their welfare, right to healthy sexuality, and natural stages of child development. http://www.shapingyouth.org/body-blitz-apa-study-shows-harm-of-early-sexualization/ :

    • I totally get what you are saying here, but why turn an Artermis into an Aphrodite for no reason when it doesn’t fit with the character?

  7. My daughter has already banned Disney from my granddaughter’s life, because of the overt branding and commercialism. The sexualization of the Disney girls is just the icing on the cake.

    • Good for her! How old is your granddaughter? It can be hard to keep up an outright ban as kids enter school, because Disney is ubiquitous–but as long as your daughter shares her values with your granddaughter, that will help tremendously.

      • Sometimes schools can help. My children are in a Montessori school that has a dress code specifically banning any clothing, shoes, bags, etc. that have representations of anything that isn’t real. (For example: a butterfly is fine; a fairy is not. A bulldozer is fine; an anthropomorphized car is not.)

        There are children at the school who are really into princesses and superheroes (3 and 4 year olds who’ve seen “Avengers” and all the “Iron Man” films…that’s another issue!), but they aren’t allowed to bring that stuff into school. That relieves a lot of the pressure on the families who are trying to stay princess-free as much as possible.

        • That’s a terrific point. Would that every family could have access to schools with such a sensible approach to children’s popular culture!

          • It’s a matter of opinion. Banning any imaginative representation of the world around us doesn’t seem terribly sensible to me. It seems cloying and controlling on par with the mindset that generated the dysfunctions we inherited from the Victorian mindset.

            • Just FYI, the “dysfunctions” you mention are the legacy of America’s Puritan founders, not the Victorians. The Victorians actually liked sex a lot and were far less repressed than their American contemporaries.

    • I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I thought I was in an alternate universe.

      • Me too. The one on the bottom looks a little more traditionally feminine, for sure, but not at all what I would call sexualized. The only differences I see are the absence of bow and arrows, the poofier hair, and the more colorful dress. It looks like the same little round-faced red-headed girl, otherwise.

        • Narrower waist and a lower decolletage. Although the second pose is very strong and self-confident, the first is coy and flirtatious.

          • Exactly. FWIW, I believe the folks having a hard time seeing these images as sexualized are just very used to seeing sexualized images of women. If you’re used to it, it’s harder to see.

            If you want to know what water is like, don’t ask the fish.

            • ha! That last one is a keeper, Rebecca; great reminder. And yes, be patient with the tons of ‘I’m not seeing it’ desensitization comments; or ‘it’s a first world problem get over yourselves’ bit…they come in waves. I’d remind readers that this generation has seen a tsunami of sexualization, to the point of being ‘urban wallpaper’…context is key.

              When we’re swimming in a sea of formulaic sameness, (whether it’s the sparkle silo with the princess posse or the sexualized thin-spindly Monster High/NoviStars/Bratzillaz dolls http://www.shapingyouth.org/bratzillaz-novi-stars-monster-high-same-sexualized-snorefest/ the lack of ‘choice’ and narrowcasting itself is harmful to developing identity w/the over-arching cues to kids being ‘one way to be’ …

    • I am not seeing this image as sexualized. I do see a different rendering of her stylistically. The truth is, at the time period Merida would have lived in, the lower form of the dress is a lot more accurate. I am a student of historical fashion, and the form and function of how clothing did and did not cover the breast has changed vastly to show and hide the breasts and waist over the years. I am not understanding how as parents we are applying what we see as sexual for five year olds. FIVE YEAR OLDS ONLY HAVE A CONCEPT OF SEXUALITY IF WE AS PARENTS GIVE THEM THAT CONCEPT. As a little girl, I used the words “pretty” to apply to pricesses, and yes I wanted to be a pretty princess. But I also grew up a in a mixed Lebanese American household where I watched belly dancers at a young age and thought they were just as much princesses as Belle and Jasmine. What we need to be focused on is teaching our girls self image, and that it is not bad to be pretty, or stand out and pretty is our own ideal.

      My 6 year old saw the image said, “They drew her different here mom”. SHE IS A DRAWING, not a person. Characters are constantly being re-rendered in different ideas. From a drawing standpoint, Merida has a lot of features that would not render as well in 2D as 3D and for continuity in drawing style, I believe she was re-rendered so as not to “stand out” as weird visually. I am a fiber artist and graphic designer, color is my job, and I can see how they wanted her to match.

      Merida’s strong character has made her one of my favorite princesses, but to me the movie was not a feminist movie, but a movie about duty and parenting and childhood and growing up. The fact that the word sexual and disney princesses are put together by adults show how sad American society has become, in my opinion.

  8. The backlash wasn’t only coming from parents. I’m not a parent and I signed the Change.org petition. There was absolutely no need to redesign Merida; it sends out the wrong message to young children, especially girls – and you don’t have to be a parent to realize that and speak out against it.

  9. GET a life, so many politically correct people with nothing better to do than destroy the world !!!!

  10. If your children are trying to model themselves after a cartoon then you are obviously not doing your job as a parent. Do I agree that kids are being influenced in the wrong ways absolutel the idea that they have to be super thin wear makeup and be a model in everyday life is ridiculous however a cartoon is just that NOT real. My daughter knows those and knows it’s just a drawing and that is why it is perfect. This petition is a joke when there are so many more REAL issues that people should be concerned with.

    • Nailed it! You should receive a golden hammer and some golden nails. Always hate when parents try to blame everything else over how their children grow up. Spend time with them and they will emulate you.

    • I was thinking that same thing. Change.org should be about real issues not a freaking cartoon. Instead of people arguing about a cartoon being sexualized or not they should try to be this passionate about a change that matters. Hunger, animal abuse, domestic abuse, etc….

      • Shay, James, McKinney:

        Blaming parents is simply wrong. Many of the people objecting to these changes spend every day trying to help their daughters avoid being overly influenced by Disney, but it’s hard to compete with a $2 billion marketing machine.

        Two more quick things:

        One, objecting to the sexualization of a character beloved by young girls is not trivial; it is, in fact, a very real issue, as the American Psychological Association’s report on the sexualization of girls so carefully points out.

        Two, there is room on Change.org for a range of issues. It’s not like folks can only be concerned with one issue at a time. Does it occur to you that perhaps a person can fight against girls’ sexualization while also fighting for other causes?

    • You’re right, people live in a psychological and social vacuum and receive no influences whatsoever from the world outside the household and the media has no power whatsoever over public opinion.

      You would certainly revolutionize the field of sociology. Why don’t you write a book?

    • Hi, Shannon: Yes, I saw the coronation ceremony. The new version of Merida is meant for the marketing of products to little girls and wouldn’t necessarily alter Merida’s presentation in Disney’s parks. Thanks for reading!

    • I don’t think anyone here lacks calmness. Most people who critique media representations do so in a thoughtful, measured fashion. But thanks for reading!

  11. As an illustrator and a female, I think this is a tad bit on the over-reaction side. There was more than likely a single artist assigned to draw them, so the art styles will be changed. The eyes will look different compared to the original designs, and really, complaining about Merida’s hair? You’re taking CG textured hair, and trying to draw it in the tradition 3D flat color Disney style. It’s going to look less wild.

    Plus the “coronation” dress and hairstyle of Disney princesses always are “fancied” up if they didn’t have much of an elaborate dress originally. I remember growing up being confused at how different the dresses of my Disney barbies were to the movies, and I’ve come to realize they do these to make the dresses look more appealing on dolls, be it easier to sew, or attract more with it being more of a “Fashion” dress. Traditional Merida will always be around. This is just the coronation edition. You don’t see Arial always represented as she is in the princess line, do you? And what princess would show up to her coronation with a bow and arrow? You can just explain it off as her mother explaining to her daughter that a coronation is no place for her bow and arrow.

    I’m a girl who grew up with the early 90s Disney princesses, consider myself a strong feminist, and don’t think for one moment that they had any sort of negative effect on my life or how I saw my body image. I don’t know where these little pre-schoolers pitching fits about covering their shoulders are coming from, but it sounds more like a bad case of soiled little brats with mother’s who have a parental problem to me. A lot of these princess designs do NOT have bare shoulders. I learned from Belle reading was cool, and from Pocahontas that running around and rolling around the ground and climbing trees was perfectly ok, and from Mulan that all you need to do is be yourself. If you fear your daughter is being exposed to too much rich little damsel in distress BS, then why don’t you, I dunno, read her books with more kick butt girls? Don’t ban Disney, just make sure they’re exposed to more the world has to offer.

    Next thing you know you guys are going to be complaining because the actress they hire for the coronation will have a waist and a chest, and no where near a round enough face.

    • Well said. I had the same thought regarding the 5-year-old tantrums. They don’t need princesses with covered shoulders, they need parents who tell them they’re not princesses.

    • Ayla, first of all, no one is trying to ban Disney, and to my knowledge, no one is complaining about the coronation itself.

      As far as your main points go:

      1. I’m not buying that this can be chalked up to different illustrator’s styles. I have a few children’s editions of Brave in storybook form, and there are cartoon illustrations that are 2D and make terrific representations of Merida’s film counterpart. This version of Merida is made to match the other princesses, who have recently been redesigned in sexier versions by Disney–making this part of the same problem, really.

      For more details on the redesign that this Merida is meant to align with, see Peggy Orenstein’s site at http://peggyorenstein.com/blog/introducing-cinderella-2012 and http://peggyorenstein.com/blog/belle-the-bratz-version .

      2. It’s easy to lay the blame upon parents, but ultimately wrong-headed. What you describe above (reading other books, exposing girls to what else the world has to offer) is exactly what parents concerned about their girls’ princess obsessions do–but Disney has billions of dollars to spend to target little girls. It’s almost impossible for parents to successfully compete with a marketing machine of that scale, unless they have some incredible media literacy resources at their disposal.

      • The styles of the princesses need to match each other so they can coexist in the same Disney universe. That is why each of the princesses has been slightly altared over the years. You are trying to align characters that were drawn over a 60 year span by hundreds of different people and in various styles to ONE STYLE. Even if there was a good looking and true to character 2D Merida, it wasn’t in the Disney Princess style that the other 10 are drawn in. And I don’t mean “Style” as in drawn pretty and sexy, I mean the actual drawing style. The way the face, body, and features are drawn. They need to be consistent through out all 11 Princesses, and each and every one of them has gone through a change from their movie versions.

        Finally, I was at Disney World for the coronation, and Merida was there with her bow, so it’s not like they are taking that aspect away from her. They are trying to keep her as true to the character as possible, while making sure she fits in with the other princesses they already have.

        • Hi, Mike: You’re absolutely right. From a marketing standpoint, the characters need to be drawn in a way that is cohesive for the Disney Princess brand identity. Nevertheless, with the tremendous resources at Disney’s disposal, they can make Merida match the look of the other princesses without implying that she is coy and flirtatious. They can use a lighter touch around the eyes, too, so that they don’t look heavily made up.

          What’s interesting is that what happens at Disney World and what happens in the Disney Consumer Product Division are two different things. So while Merida at the Coronation was indeed armed with her bow, the Merida being launched for products that will enter little girls’ homes apparently is not. Kids live with the representations on the products they buy, not the ones they visit (if they ever get to do so) at the parks–so this is an important matter to many of us in the girl empowerment community.

          • This is a fabulous addition to the ‘interpretation’ convo…love how you’re bringing in all the artists, animators, cartoon folks to do some schoolin’–salient points on diff btwn charac dev storylines +mktg dev/narrowcasting…

            The one artist who said, “even Disney Princesses themselves do not need such a standardized sense of design…it amounts to is the merchandising or marketing division of the corporation attempting to stamp their impression on characters created somewhere else (by animators). It amounts to overstepping their boundaries insofar as they may adapt characters to their work, but outright changing them is unconscionable” resonates…http://animationanomaly.com/2013/05/07/meridas-makeover-and-character-continuity/#.UZJeKMpOrbx

            At what point does it shift from ‘adaptation’ to overhaul; infringement of the original creation, both in spirit of the art AND qualities of the storytelling? (yah, I know, Pixar/Disney same mouse house since ’06 +all but worthy larger DRM convo ;)

    • I’m also an artist, and I can see precious little between the CG model and the 2D model. Other than her bustline dropping a little and her hair being volumized, what exactly is making her sexualized? Unless they pulled a Jessica Rabbit on her, I seriously doubt anyone is going to view her differently just because she’s wearing a differently colored outfit.

      “She should dress in one way and only one way to make sure she isn’t viewed sexually!” Does this sound like any particular religion to you?

      • I think if you remember that the main audience/target market for the Disney Princess line is girls who are about 8 and younger, the differences become more important. Why does a young child need a character to have a dropped bust line and volumized hair? Any artist worth his or her salt could render the character in 2D without making these changes. So the question (or one question) becomes: Why?

        I think it’s completely appropriate for parents or care-givers of young girls to be wary of characters that are “viewed sexually.” If the character had always been a sexual being, that would be one thing–but this feels like bait and switch.

      • ““She should dress in one way and only one way to make sure she isn’t viewed sexually!” Does this sound like any particular religion to you?”
        Well, no prizes for guessing who Brian’s talking about there. It’s so obviously the Amish, that’s pretty much their view verbatim.

        Oh, or did you mean the Puritans, Brian? No, wait, maybe it was Judaism, I’m pretty sure the Torah has a whole bunch of stuff about what women should wear. So does the Bible, btw. Not to mention the fact that Eve gets all the blame for “tempting” Adam with that “apple”.

        Seriously though, the fact that pretty much every major religion has a whole truckload of misogynistic rules and commandments all aimed at keeping the womenfolk in line makes it quite surprising that we can all gues you actually mean Islam. The notion that women are solely responsible for men’s actions when sex is involved is a factor in basically every religion ever. (Except Buddhism, AFAIK).
        Brian, I’m not sure what would be an appropriate forum for you to air your bigoted Islamophobia, but I do know that this isn’t it.

        I think your sense of superiority is a little misplaced. If you don’t believe me, keep an eye out for the next time a rape trial makes the news. I’ll bet you $100 there will be people talking about what the victim was wearing, and how she is to blame for what happened because she “dressed slutty” / walked alone after dark / had a drink at a party / had a condom in her purse / gave a man directions on the street etc etc etc.

    • Merida would totally show up to her own coronation with her bow and arrow. And if you want to be really “historically accurate,” she would have been married by the age of twelve, although she would not necessarily have had her first period. Also, Merida’s mother would age slightly slower than a poor crofter’s wife since she would spend much less time outdoors and do far less physical labour, but by the time of Merida’s reaching marriageable age she would be very wrinkled and have few teeth left. Not to mention the fact that any sort of historical accuracy would render the entire story impossible, because in real life there is no way anyone would allow Merida to refuse to be married whenever and to whomever her father chose, nor would it even occur to Merida to try.
      My point is, this film (even more so than, say, Braveheart) is not a documentary and historical detail is very definitely secondary to the telling of a story meant to grab the attention of children. Details of medieval Scottish life were carefully picked and chosen based on whether they enhance or distract from the story. Historical accuracy is so poor an excuse for any of the changes to Merida’s costume that even Disney hasn’t bothered to offer it.

      I’m not going to tell you you’re “doing feminism wrong” or whatever, but personally I dislike being referred to as a “female” rather than a woman or a person or a human being. Referring to “that female there” is how people discuss animals, not people. The term “female” misapplied to women is usually a hallmark of misogynists, just FWIW.

      • My bad, that was a reply to Zoe’s comment, but I think my iPod touch is messing me around again :(

  12. I really don’t see what the big deal is.
    People make such a big deal out of something minor. I think she looks adorable either way.

    I grew up with Disney and NOT ONCE did I ever associate being a princess with being skinny or pretty. It was about going after your dreams and never letting anything get in your way.

    People freak out over such silly things.

    • I agree Zoe. Why would anyone look at these cartoons and think about sex? Seems there are a lot of women out there that need to get their minds out of the gutter and quit bashing men. There are a lot of women in the board rooms too…

      • Tim, sexualization is a technical term used by psychologists. Saying that a person or character is being sexualized is not the same as thinking about sex. Those of us critical of this 2D rendering are looking at Merida and seeing a new emphasis on a rigidly stereotypical form of beauty.

        Although in the film Merida is unconcerned with her appearance, in this permutation she is suddenly wearing lots of makeup and making come-hither eyes. The little details–such as her exposed shoulders–were carefully calculated by Disney’s consumer product division; they did not happen by chance, and they add to the sense that the character is being sexualized.

        The fact that Merida has no more bow and arrow is also important, as they signify her as an active individual; without them, she is easier to interpret as a passive beauty object.

        • Um, you know women don’t always dress the same way every day, or carry the same accessories each and every day, right? There’s just as many times you see Robin Hood with a bow and arrow as the times you don’t. As long as she isn’t screeching “Lets go to the mall and shop!”, she isn’t Malibu Stacy yet.

          • Brian: Um, obviously. But do you see Robin Hood in a codpiece when he’s not holding his bow and arrow? Are his six pack and pecs showing? This isn’t simply about what she’s wearing–it’s about the total presentation of the character.

            • Yes, well said Rebecca!
              BTW, Brian: Malibu Stacy, like pretty much everything on The Simpsons, is exaggerated to make a point. In her case to make the point that toys marketed to young girls push a damaging ideal of feminity. So basically exactly what Disney does with all its princesses, and what it’s tried to do to Merida.

  13. I attended Merida’s coronation on Saturday, covering it for my site. There was certainly nothing “sexy” about it. All 10 previous Princesses made appearances on stage, some sporting their newest theme park looks. But I wouldn’t necessarily call any of those new looks “sexy.” Dresses are bigger and feature more sparkles. Hairstyles are a bit more modern. But they mostly look the same as they always have.

    And then came Merida, arriving boldly on horseback, leading a grand procession of flag bearers and musicians. After dismounting, she proudly walked up to the Cinderella Castle stage with her signature strut, straight out of “Brave.” She was giddy to be there, seemingly accepting her new role as a princess, as she clearly learned a lot from her big screen adventure. And after her mom officially crowned her as the 11th member of Disney’s royal court, she loudly exclaimed, “I am strong! I am brave! I am Merida – and I am a princess!” She was clearly the same strong female character seen in the film, dressed no different.

    (My report, with photos and video of the ceremony, can be found here: http://www.insidethemagic.net/2013/05/merida-becomes-11th-disney-princess-in-coronation-ceremony-with-first-ever-queen-elinor-appearance-at-walt-disney-world/)

    Meanwhile, my press credential for the event featured the new 2D Disney Princess look of the character that all the controversy has surrounded. But while that look didn’t exactly match the Merida everyone was excited to see on stage, it was clear that this event, organized by Disney Consumer Products, was intended to bring attention to the character that everyone got to know in “Brave” – not a “sexy” version.

    The 2D version of Merida was created to meet the style guide that the Disney Princess brand follows. And in doing so, her overall look was indeed modified, just as the looks of the rest of the princesses were. They were united in sparkles, vibrant colors, and copious amounts of makeup. And this is nothing new. The princess makeovers have been rolled out for several months, an attempt to update their looks to match today’s popular styles.

    Now, I can’t speak to whether these new styles are appropriate for advertising to children. I don’t have children of my own and I am in no way educated in child psychology. But I can say that not once during Merida’s coronation – an official welcome to the world of the Disney Princess product line – was it even hinted that she needed to change who she is. And in a product display shown off to hundreds of moms in attendance at Disney’s Social Media Moms Conference over the weekend, Merida looked only like herself on dolls, toys, and packaging.

    Does the 2D Disney Princess look of Merida change her appearance? Obviously. She’s going from a rendered computer generated character to a hand-drawn version. By definition, that makes her look different.

    But does that really make her “sexy”? Or just… a bit different? It’s clear that her CG rendered appearance doesn’t fit in with the others on the Disney Princess site. Rapunzel was converted from 3D CG to 2D and doesn’t look exactly as she did. But is it okay for her to get that makeover simply because she wasn’t “strong” and “brave”? (I think she was…)

    I have a feeling we’ll see a new 2D version of Merida created, perhaps this time with a bit less makeup and sparkles. But I wonder if there is any 2D version of the character short of the slouching, messy-haired free spirit (some would say brat) we saw at the beginning of the film that will make everyone happy. Or have we all forgotten that Merida and her mother strongly bonded by the end and that now Merida has taken the next step and accepted her role as princess?

    • Hi, Ricky: Thanks for your comments. I’ve seen the coronation ceremony, and it was great. I’ve also seen 2D illustrations of Merida that are great (for example, in my four-year-old’s Little Golden Book version of the movie).

      I don’t think we can brush the changes to Merida off as the result of her simply becoming 2D. It’s about the details that change her nature and contribute to her sexualization: the makeup, the come-hither eyes, the coy head-tilt, the rounder chest and narrower waist. I’m certain that these details were consciously calculated by the folks at Disney; there is too much money in the Disney Princess line for them not to have been.

      In fact, folks have been complaining about the new rendering of the Disney Princesses in general for quite some time. For example, see http://peggyorenstein.com/blog/belle-the-bratz-version . Merida’s re-imagining just seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, because Merida’s character is SO much different than that of all the other princesses.

      No one has forgotten that Merida has “taken the next step and accepted her role as princess”; Merida’s fans celebrate that fact, because by accepting her role as princess, she has expanded the Disney-brand definition of “princess” to include MORE TYPES OF GIRLS. Being a princess–which Disney equates with being a girl–doesn’t have to mean giving up one’s bow and arrow for eyeliner, sparkles, and sex appeal. But this new redesign implies that it does.

      • I agree that it’s SO much different. And yes, some of the others are far worse. Belle looks like she had a face lift and Mulan looks like she changed races. They look bad. It’s a poor artistic decision made for marketing.

        I suppose my point was that it wasn’t played up in person at the ceremony. Even the princesses that have new dresses and hairstyles still, for the most part, look the same as they always have.

        But it should be noted that Merida hasn’t given up her bow. When I first wrote about this story (before any of the major outlets picked it up), I included an image of the new 2D Merida still sporting her bow and arrows that has also been passed around:

        http://www.insidethemagic.net/2013/04/merida-to-become-11th-disney-princess-with-new-look-for-royal-coronation-ceremony-at-walt-disney-world-on-may-11/

        I don’t think she has given it up, but she’s just not always holding it either. You don’t expect every image of Rapunzel to show her holding a frying pan, right? That was her empowering weapon of choice…

        I definitely get the outrage and completely agree that there are far better 2D versions of Merida that more closely resemble the 3D one. It’s clear the Disney Princess brand sends the messages you are stating, that girls need heavy makeup and sparkles to be a princess. That is most definitely wrong.

        But my point was that Disney isn’t EXCLUSIVELY pushing this new look. It’s one of several, including the original CG version. Moreover, it isn’t just the “sexiness” of the new look that’s a problem. It’s really that the new look barely resembles the original character. It’s more like Merida suddenly found an older sister. To push that as Merida is certainly confusing.

  14. It would be nice if we could get the old Mu-Lan back too. Wonder if we can pitch enough of a fit for that?

  15. I’m not an artist myself. And I can see the differences. But would it not be hard to re-create (coz wasn’t Merida in Brave CGI?) CGI stuff as just standard cartoon? Personally I find most cartoons (not only Disney) over sexualizes girls and portrays them as weak fools most of the time. So my two girls pretty much watch the same stuff as myself ( within reason) They’ve grown up on everything from Criminal Minds through to Doctor Who. And they are both well adjusted, no issues with t-shirt wrecking kids. (Touch wood). Socializing at school is starting to do alot of damage as most other children carry the same issues that adults have with beauty and fashion and all that useless crap.
    Also I enjoyed the blog it’s nice length and interesting. Thanks

      • Thanks. Checked it out. It’s not an overly fantastic likeness. But I think that’s just the adult in me being pedantic. But yeah she does not look sexualised in that book the way she does in the pic that was released. But at the end of the day as parents, I really do think we just need to stop, take a breath and educate our kids. In a globalized and sexualised era where how you look and what you have and how good it looks – how sexy it all is – signifies who and what you are. We need to stop crying over the little stuff and teach our young generations. You know sort of merge old fashioned values with new age thinking. It can be done. My five yr old can be defiant. But she does it with manners. And when she talks about one of her barbies being a princess, the others are slaves and servants – This is due to how she perceived what I taught her about history in regards to kings+queens etc..

        • You’re absolutely right: parents need to educate their kids. It’s a tough battle to fight, though, when Disney has a $2 billion marketing machine targeted at our young ones. Sexualization is most emphatically not “little stuff”; it’s a huge issue, one that is writ large in young girls’ lives.

          That’s why parents and the girl empowerment community speak out on issues like these. You may see it as “crying over the little stuff,” but really, it’s rational, level-headed discourse meant to effect change in the public sphere.

          We can’t do much better for our girls than that.

  16. Sad.. all of this. The new look was just what she looked like older as an adult. She was big boobed, she wasn’t in a salacious outfit, she still was herself just what she would look like if an adult. All you took this way out of proportion. sad. You set women back.

    • What makes you think it’s supposed to be her when she’s older? None of the other Disney Princesses are presented as older once they join the lineup. They don’t age. Even Ariel, who in direct-to-video sequels has a daughter, is still presented as a teenager; and Rapunzel, whose hair is cut at the end of her film, is presented in her pre-haircut state, meaning that the iconic Disney Princess Rapunzel is still the age that the character was in her film.

  17. I am totally disgusted at your need to sexualize toys meant for young children.These dolls have a strong influence on little girls who can,t seem to get enough of them. I will never again purchase a Disney product until you start using some common sense when designing toys meant for children.

  18. I haven’t seen “Brave”, but from the footage I’ve seen and the images here, the main thing I notice is that original Merida looked like a bit of dork, and I mean that in a good way. I don’t perceive the difference so much as one of “sexualization” per se, but one of beauty versus glamour – beauty in its awkwardness and earthiness, glamour in its unattainable desiredness. If these two girls had been in my class in high school, I would have wanted the Disney princess to give me the time of day and be devastated when she didn’t, but I would have wanted the Pixar version to be my girlfriend.

    • Sam, thanks for these comments. Sexualization is actually a pretty technical term that psychologists use, and that the glamourization of Merida is a good indicator that she’s being sexualized. Glamour is all about projecting a form of beauty that is narrowly defined with a lot of sex appeal, and glamour suggests that image is paramount. But that’s at odds with Merida’s character from the film. She “looked like a bit of a dork…in a good way” because she was most definitely not interested in stereotypically girly things.

  19. I think you’re making a mole hill out of an ant hill – or whatever that phrase is…don’t see it – she’s modestly dressed – if you want to complain about this sort of thing (which I totally agree is a problem in the media) I think you can find much more clear cut examples.

    • But, Will, the little things count–and the fact that there are other, worse examples doesn’t mean that this isn’t a battle worth fighting. There are so few major media depictions OF girls that were created as role models FOR girls that people have good reason to be up in arms over these changes to Merida.

  20. This article is so bias and over the top. People need to calm down. I can’t believe people have the time to be upset at things like this. If you have so much time, why don’t you go and teach your daughters to not be influenced by this. If they don’t listen to you, it is your fault, not Disney’s. Seriously though, how about you people go and complain about things that actually matter. There are problems that are way worse in the world.

    • Jay, I’m amused at your suggestion that people making these criticisms are “bias” (the word is “biased”, FWIW) and anything but calmly measured in their criticisms.

      Many of the people objecting to these changes spend every day trying to help their daughters avoid being overly influenced by Disney, but it’s hard to compete with a $2 billion marketing machine. Blaming parents is simply wrong.

      If you are a male, I can understand how you might think this is not a thing that actually matters. But it does matter, very much, to girls and parents everywhere. The fact that there are “way worse” problems in the world doesn’t mean that this one is not worth addressing.

      • How is blaming the parents wrong? They are the biggest influence in a kid’s life. If they can’t control their kid, that is their fault. People just like to blame other people so the fault doesn’t fall on them.

        They made her look better. I do not think this is “sexualization”. The people complaining about the redesign probably has worn something like that or something even more revealing.

        I see why females would go crazy over something like this. Females tend to go over the top over small things. They just want something to complain about. If it’s not nagging about one thing, it’s nagging about another. It’s okay though, we understand, must be the hormones. Keep addressing these small problems, it just seems like your priorities are in the wrong place. Also, it is entertaining for me to see people complaining about such trivial things.

        • Studies show that parents, media, society, and peers all influence children significantly. (In fact, studies show that peers can have a stronger influence than parents in the pre-teen and teenage years.) That’s why it’s wrong to place the blame squarely on parents: though they are influential, they are only one part of the picture.

          As to your second paragraph, in afraid you’re missing the point. It’s not about one variable like what she’s wearing; it’s about the sum total of the many little changes that, taken as a whole, are truly problematic.

          Regarding your third paragraph…wow, thanks for that *brilliant* analysis. So glad you could get that misogynistic outburst out of your system.

        • Why did she need to “look better”?

          One of the things that I liked about Brave and Merida for my 4 year old son is I thought she was a very positive and strong role model.

          I can see by your very chauvinistic statement though that responding is probably useless.

          I bet you still expect women to do all of the housework, laundry and have dinner on the table with your slippers ready by 6PM sharp even if they also work full time.

          Times are changing and I want my son to respect and value people and I don’t think changing a cartoon in this way teaches the type of respect that I want him to learn.

    • I don’t remember seeing EVE in an off-the-shoulder gown; are you sure you really understand the issue here?

      • I certainly do understand the issue here and dislike the Merida makeover, as well. I believe that there’s a special place in hell reserved for the product managers of the “Disney Princesses” merchandise. (Luckily, my 4yr old daughter is not into it, although she’s very fond of pink and purple at the moment.)

        What I tried to point out is that Disney hasn’t been consistent with their values since ages. They produce a movie with a pro-environment message that basically says “we humans are throwing away too much stuff and fill the planet with waste” and then sell wasteful, difficult-to-recycle merchandise for that very movie.

        Also, DisneyCorp has been evil in politics (copyright extensions) since decades.

        • Yes, well Uncle Walt was exceedingly racist and his company reflected *those* values for a long long time, but that, like the environmental issue, aren’t really the focus of this particular discussion, which is about Merida being made “sexier”.
          Forgive me if I got the wrong impression, but your comment seemed to imply that anyone who was annoyed by Merida’s makeover was some kind of hypocrite for not also dragging in Wall-E and the environment. This may not be entirely your fault, as “OMG shut up you women this is no big deal why don’t you get annoyed about things that REALLY matter” is a ubiquitous, if illogical response from certain quarters.

          • What surprises me is how passionate people feel about this movie. I found it a rather weak example for a female empowerent message to young girls. The story was entirely predictable from the plot summary and the ending not very satisfying. There are far better movies featuring young female heroines. (And I’m really looking forward to watching them with my daughter, once she’s a bit older. We watched Kiki’s Delivery Service with her recently and the finale was still a bit too exciting for her.)

            • “once she’s older” being the key words there. The plot of “Brave” *should* be predictable to a grown man with a lifetime of media to draw on. I highly doubt any three-year-old would have the same reaction. Quite apart from the fact that a small child doesn’t have that many other films in her head to compare “Brave” against, children enjoy films in a different way. For example a child will happily watch her favourite Disney film every day for a month, whereas an adult probably wouldn’t. As a film for young children, it does its job excellently and manages to avoid passing on the damaging and sexist values in so much other media. That’s one reason why Merida’s makeover rankles so much – she is Disney’s most “empowering” princess to date, which means she’s one of frighteningly few genuine role models for small girls and to have this undermined so radically is very upsetting for many people.
              Wondering how Merida compares to a character like Ellen Ripley is pointless, because all that matters is “How does Merida compare to the other female characters a three-year-old sees in films and books?” Seen in that context, Merida’s right up there at the top.

            • “Wondering how Merida compares to a character like Ellen Ripley is pointless, because all that matters is ‘How does Merida compare to the other female characters a three-year-old sees in films and books?’ Seen in that context, Merida’s right up there at the top.”

              Exactly! Well said.

            • Ok, so there is no more nested level for another reply, so this is actually in reply to redsky.

              Hey, redsky, yes, of course I’m spoiled and bored more easily by knowing more about storytelling than my daughter. But I expected more from Pixar. Most of their movies are not paint-by-numbers when it comes to the storyline. “Nemo”, “Monsters”, “Incredibles” were not as predictable as “Brave” by a wide margin.

              And I’m a bit bitter about your “Alien” reference. I never compared “Brave” to the “Alien” series or talked about Ripley as a better role model for my 4yr old daughter. (Though I hope she’ll grow up to be a sci-fi movie fan, too.)

              I meant specifically that Brave is a rather weak example for a childrens’ movie with an uplifiting, empowering message for young girls. “Brave” was standard stuff, well executed, but boy, was it boring. There are far better ones, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” or “Ronja Rövardotter” being just two for a 4yr old girl (the latter being so much better than “Brave” in many ways, though I don’t know if it ever made it to the US). Heck, I can’t wait to show my girl “Whale Rider” in a few years!

  21. I agree that sexualization and glamourization in the media are a huge problem. This example however is a bit over the top. As you have repeatedly pointed out, Disnery is a multi billion dollar BUSINESS. Look at the difference between the Winnie the Pooh characters in the original A.A. Milne books and the Disney versions. The same is true of all of the Dr. Seuss work that has been what my friends and I call “Disneyfied”. It’s not about gender issues, it’s about making money. They have no social conscience. All they’re interested in is the profit margin. If their market research shows that sexualized or glamourized merchandise is more likely to sell then that is a reflection of the state that society has already reached. I agree that this trend is disturbing but we need to understand that while this issue is important, it has gone way beyond the possibility that changing a few dolls will make any difference.
    I am a mother and a feminist. I believe that it is healthy for little girls to see all of this, with the proper guidance. My daughter watched all of the movies. She was given a Princess blanket (in 2009 – so it was the sexualized version). She did the whole pink and purple girly princess thing. She loved crowns and ball gowns and all of the stuff that I hated as a child and I despaired of the type of woman she would grow into, but I guided her to investigate all of the themes instead of banning it.
    At the age of 10 she insisted on making her own placard and carrying it the entire 3.7kms of Slutwalk rape protest march. At the age of 11 she insisted on being a marshal with me at Slutwalk. This year (age 12) she is trying to convince me that she is not to young to participate fully in the planning committee. She has volunteered to be the junior spokes person to go around to schools to talk about rape culture and victim blaming!
    I don’t know what the jargon is but the way I see it Feminism is about giving women the choice to be WHOEVER WE WANT to be. By fighting this fight you’re implying that there is something wrong with being a sexual female. For me that is as sexist as the opposite end of the scale. Being sexy and being strong are not mutually exclusive. Why can’t we have role models who can have hips and boobs and beautiful hair AND know how to use a bow and arrow.

    • Karmilla, Brenda Chapman herself (Merida’s creator) is up in arms about this revision to a character she meant as a role model and who was modeled after her own daughter.

      Yes, feminism is about giving women the choice to be whomever we want to be. But when variations on the SAME images are served up to little girls day after day, year after year, choice becomes an illusion. Choosing between sexy Merida and sexy Belle is like choosing between Coke and Pepsi.

      Why can’t we have role models who DON’T “have hips and boobs and beautiful hair” but DO know how to use a bow and arrow? Do girls only have value insomuch as they conform to the very narrow Western beauty ideal?

      Just because market research says “X will sell to girls” doesn’t mean it’s ethical or just for companies to sell X to girls. Yes, they’re here to make money–but as Brenda Chapman stated in the quote I included at the end of my post above, Merida was selling just fine as she was: “They have been handed an opportunity on a silver platter to give their consumers something of more substance and quality — THAT WILL STILL SELL — and they have a total disregard for it in the name of their narrow minded view of what will make money. I forget that Disney’s goal is to make money without concern for integrity. Silly me.”

  22. I’m in the UK, Merida is not visible on the DP website at all. Will keep an eye on it.

  23. I would like to make a technical request, if I may? In the future when including links in your blog, could you please have them open in a separate tab instead of having the linked page replace the blog page? The way this is set up, I have to skip all the links to read through the blog, then go back and remember which ones interested me, and then have to click on “back” after reading each one to find the next one I wanted to see.

    The way I usually read articles that have lots of links is to click on each one that interests me so that it opens in a new tab for me to read later, while I continue reading the original article.

  24. I’ve never been able to stomach Disney in it’s Cartoon forms. This is pretty awful to me as well seeing something sweet and fun turned in to a standard. An Unreachable and unrealistic standard, for most.

    The next thing for me is to see Disney put together a character who is both Overweight and not useless/stupid/constantly eating/unloved and in a position of stature within their film. That would be…. Magical.

  25. I was absolutely enraged when I saw the new design!

    When I saw Brave last year, I was in love with Merida! I’m a bit biased being a Scot, but there was more to it than that as I was driven to see it again…I grew up a tomboy, I was never a princess and my parents taught me that was ok. There’s such an onslaught now of pink-fluffy-princessy stuff that, although I’m not a mum, I wonder/worried what message it’s putting across to young girls…Then Merida comes along and she destroyed all those stereotypes. She was clever, independent and didn’t NEED a prince. I was proud to see that maybe, just maybe…the tomboys of the world would have a voice through her and the princesses might find a new hero.

    Then Disney puts out this “coronation” crap, her waist is trimmed, she has bare shoulders (seriously, this isn’t just a question of decency…does Disney not realize how quickly Celtic skin BURNS?? Poor Merida if she ever goes in the sun for more than 2 minutes, those shoulders will be a “lovely” shade of red), her hair is sexy and stylized and WHERE IS HER BOW??? This is why I have problems with Disney and what it’s become.

    • Agreed! Thanks so much for your post. And good point about how quickly Celtic skin burns. I hadn’t even thought of that. Poor Merida!

  26. You’re an idiot. This is simply a subtle change in how the character is designed to make her appear more feminine in 2D. I’d be more worried if she looked like a bloke. Personally I’d rather not have to explain trans-gender and why some women want to look like men to my young daughter. Her waist is slightly slimmer – but that’s just down to stylisation. Disney have a brand and other princesses – and this character can’t look out of place within them. The bust hasn’t changed one bit. I’d say her hair looks ‘sexy’ on the film itself, and nothing has changed about it other that how it has to be represented to look best in 2D format. “Volumized” – LOL. How could it have any more volume?!

    I get the impression you’d prefer it just be a stick figure with an orange squiggle on top. That way no one can be offended by it.

  27. I dislike the way all the princess’ are presents for the Disney princess franchise. Let us not forget that Mulan is in that line up, she is presented in the gheisha image she spent the film rebelling against, her hair is longer and she wears makeup and a dress. Mostly I like the message that Disney sends out to young girls with their princess’, Belle; although she is the town beauty she is considered odd because she shows she is intelligent and she carries on regardless of public opinion. Jasmine again rebels against the social expectations and teaches that women have a right to their own opinion and voice. Tiana works night and day to independently earn her restaurant despite he up bringing and we see her initial success at the start of the film despite it then being ripped away from her she still pays for the place with all her own money. Even the early princess’ have their merits, Snow White teaches kindness, otherwise the dwarves wouldn’t have saved her. Although the moral is she was saved by a man ultimately because of how she looked. The point is that the Disney princess campaigne is there solely to make them money and there are tons of problems, look at how European looking the entire cast is in the new drawings, many would call it racism too. I think Disney should be given credit where it us due promoting the roles of women using the princess films, and the campaign should be written off as a terrible mistake by its marketing team.
    I apologize for the essay.

  28. I agree that her look and style changed in the picture, but couldn’t it be explained as her being fancied up for her addition to the lineup? I mean, do we need to stop letting brides dress up and do their hair and makeup for their big day?? If Disney had completely replaced her with the redesigned version, I may be more upset. To me, this just looks like a case of getting dolled up (perfect term, don’t you think?) for her coronation. Tell your girls it was a special occasion and you’re sure she just couldn’t WAIT to get home and change out of that fancy dress in order to go play with her bow and arrow! Or something..
    On the other hand, as a tomboy growing up, I always had issues with how busty the Disney girls always were, but I thought it was because they were big girls who got to dress pretty if they wanted to do so. I never thought they (or Barbie) were doing it just to be sexy for the guys. Maybe I was just incredibly lucky to be so level-headed about the matter..?

    • Misha, this isn’t about a one-time coronation. This is about how Merida will be presented in the Disney Princesses line, and, in a larger sense, the coordinated campaign by Disney’s marketers to trivialize and marginalize girls.

      First of all, remember that these dolls, clothes, accessories &c are being marketed to girls as young as 3 — children who are very attentive to visual and behavioral cuse and learnign from them how they themselves are expected to behave in life. The pouting lips and the coy mannerisms are not merely insgnificant aesthetic choices — the focus on glamour, make up, and dresses at the near-exclusion of everything else is not just a fun, occasional splurge on the part of a character — when that’s ALL that ever gets shown. Children internalize that. Girls bombarded with these images and with toys that stress these values are being taught that THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE.

      Moreover, The folks behind the Disney Princess line seem determined that that’s all girls ever SHOULD see.

      Take Mulan, for example. Mulan, by rights, shouldn’t even be IN the Princess group. She’s not a princess by birth, and she never even MEETS a prince, let alone marry one. What she does do, however, is take charge of her life and win a great position for herself without even the THOUGHT of finding a husband. Mulan isn’t looking for romance or wating for a guy to sweep her off her feet. She wants to protect her injured father and save China from marauding invaders. So she joins the army, becomes a respected and distingushed soldier, defeats the Huns almost singlehandedly, and earns a job at the Emperor’s court.

      So how does Disney market Mulan? Do they sell Mulan dolls in armor? No. Does she at least get a sword, or one of those canons she was in charge of? No. Is she at least shown dressed as a boy, like she spends more than half the movie? Don’t make me laugh. She’s in DRESSES. Like that bridal outfit she wore for about five minutes at the start of the film for her disastrous appiontment with the Matchmaker. THIS is what Disney is telling girls to be like. THIS is the role model Disney wanted to promote. Not the brave heroine charging off to defend her homeland, not the ingenious soldier who BROUGHT DOWN AN ARMY WITH ONE EXTREMELY WELL-PLACED SHOT, but the passive, hyper-feminine maiden whose ONLY WORTH was in finding a husband and bearing him sons.

      Why would Disney “crown” a non princess, if not to take their bravest, cleverest, most self-reliant heorine, rein her in, and chickify her?

      Which brings us to Merida. Her mother, Queen Elinor, is trying to mold her into, well, the classic Dinsey Princess — and Merida isn’t having ANY of it. Merida HATES being a princess, and most enjoys the days that she DOESN’T HAVE TO BE one. She’s an adventurer, a wild child, and very much her own person. She flat-out refuses all her suitors, and insists on the freedom to choose for herself when and whom she’ll marry, and by the end of the film, the boys all AGREE. She fights with her mother CONSTANTLY about matters of courtly ettiquette, appearance, and Merida’s insistence on having her bow on her at all times, even at the dinner table. By the end of the film, has Merida come around? Brushed her hair, put away her bow, and donned the tight, glamorous dress? NO. Absolutely not. THE QUEEN has come around, accepted her daughter for who she is, and even loosened up a bit herself. The lessons Merida takes to heart are the ones about public speaking and the history of her kingdom — things she needs to know to be a QUEEN, not a princess.

      So, again, when it came to market Merida, what side of her does Disney choose to show? The adventurer who climbs the waterfall and hits bullseyes from atop a galloping horse? The daughter who’ll protect her family — to the death, if need be — from a monstrous bear? The practical outdoorswoman who teaches her mother how to fish? The fiercely independent young woman who’s determined to shape her own desinty?

      No.

      They make her the “Princess” her mother was trying to force her to be. All Merida dolls I’ve seen, since BEFORE THE MOVIE CAME OUT, show her in the dress she HATES. Many even take away her bow in favor of a HAIRBRUSH. Because THIS is what Disney wants girls to take away from the experience.

      If this were just a couple random marketing blips it would be much of a issue at all. But it’s CONSTANT. For many girls, it’s practically INESCAPABLE. And it’s an excellent example of how our society continues to oppress and marginalize girls and women, which is a very serious issue indeed. And many of the other “way more important” problems in the world CAN’T BE SOLVED until it is STOPPED FOR GOOD.

  29. I was a bit disappointed in the film in that I expected her to be more of a warrior figure, and instead her entire sphere of action was confined to domestic concerns. Improving her relationship with her mother (after making a very contrived and unbelievable blunder when she asks the witch for a spell to make her mother “change” without even a vague explanation of what she means, real laziness on the writers’ parts.). I thought Mulan was a more feminist character, due to the fact that she acts in a public sphere usually reserved for men.

    • Mark, you do make valid points, but remember that you are able to judge Merida and her story very differently because you are an adult and have a lifetime of media consumption to draw on, not to mention an adult level of critical thinking. The film’s actual target audience, however, sees these things entirely differently. Crucially, a three-year-old girl has very few suitable role models because her frame of reference is so much smaller.
      I would also hasten to add that operating in the domestic sphere is not automatically unfeminist. Although girls should not grow up believing that their ONLY place is in the home, modern society has long devalued occupations that are deemed “feminine” such as caregiving, homemaking etc. This is unhealthy for many reasons.
      I know it doesn’t help to start going into what is and isn’t “historically accurate” about “Brave,” but in trying to prepare her daughter to assume the role of a queen, Merida’s mother would naturally need to teach her about courtly issues, etiquette etc. (though tbh, if we were really going for historical accuracy, Merida would be married whenever and to whomever her father chose; she might still enjoy archery as a hobby, along with hawking, and the laird and family would eat in a ‘great hall’ along with the servants and other vassals; modern notions of etiquette like using knives and forks etc would not be applicable).

  30. Pingback: Disney faces backlash over new “sexy” Merida; pulls new image from web site as a result | bellabacklog

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  32. Pingback: Women as Fighters or Sex Objects? | Gunnvor's SCA Fighting Blog

  33. Princess Diana was a media favorite, Princess Anne: not so much- Princess Margaret:not so much. I’ll let that statement stand on its own social implications. Disney is a business first; social conscience is NOT what they make money with. Making money with sexually charged images is a proven method of marketing. In this case and many others the subtle sexuality of women does minimize their equality. It places them in the historically submissive role to the historically powerful male figure simply by assigning and overtly maximizing the dominant/submissive roles women have had to fight for years to be recognized as equal to men in social and political value. This occurs sub-consciously for many people but undeniably so in a very real way for society as a whole. This issue is not petty considering the level of impact that Disney has worldwide. I stand behind the cause of making this issue rise in world consciousness. This from an old white male who *gets it*……

    • It may just be my way of thinking, but I just don’t see how subtle sexuality minimizes anyone’s equality. Our society has come to realize that women are NOT just sex objects, inferior, etc. They are valued for their minds and personalities, in my opinion. Just because a woman is sexy, or a man views her as sexy, does NOT mean that that’s “all she’s good for”. If you think about it, all of the princes in these stories are sexualized as well. Just think of the guy in Mulan, parading around shirtless with all of his muscles.

  34. My 7 year old daughter likes the original version of Merida. I think Disney missed the mark with the updated image.

  35. I have to say this does not surprise me with some of the tween shows that they have on the Disney channel. Disney used to be about kids just being kids (which was great when I was a kid) and now they are showing little girls that they need to grow up sooner, and act more adult, wear makeup, dress differently.

    There are some Disney brand clothing at Target that I was shocked to see them put their names on. And it would have been ok if their target market was for 13 years or higher but the outfits range from 4 years to 14 years. 4 years! ! I have a 4 year old and I wouldn’t dream of putting dresses with zippers that go all the way down the front (there is a fabric panel, but still). Or a sweetheart neckline dress that is much to low and revealing. What ever happened to a Disney t-shirt, or a pretty little dress to make a little girl look like Minnie?

    Screw sexualing Merida, what about our children! ! ?

    • Sexualising Merida is part of sexualising children; the inappropriate clothing you’re mentioning is part and parcel of this process. It’s not an either/or situation, both are problematic.

  36. Reblogged this on Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker and commented:
    Check out Rebecca Hains excellent summary of Disney’s sexying up of Merida and the backlash that followed. Can we believe that consumer pressure may have forced Disney’s hand on this? Time will tell.

  37. At 17, I was in a size 12-14 dress. I admit I was kinda big for my age and nowhere near the size of the princesses at Disneyland. For my prom, I wore a powder blue ball gown style dress, had my hair in an updo with subtle makeup and my glasses on so I could see. Dinner before prom was at the rainforest cafe in downtown Disney here in Anaheim and I still remember, even though it has been 11 years ago now, walking through downtown Disney on my way to the restaurant and seeing 2 adorable little girls leaving with their father. As I’m walking past them (with my glasses on) I hear the little girls both commenting to their father, “look daddy, it’s cinderella!” I thought it was cute how they mistook me for being Cinderella considering how tiny the actuall princess sizes really are!I may wear a smaller dress size now, but I would never try out to be one of the princesses, I’m still not in that actual size range and my chest is considerably larger than theirs are and I know the real Disney princesses aren’t created for sex appeal, they were created to give little girls someone to look up to, someone to show them through their stories various life lessons.

  38. Many of you seem to be suggesting that this isn’t an important topic. Are you so sure about that? Studies show that if we educate all of the girls in the world we will decrease poverty dramatically as well as increase worldwide economic conditions. How do we educate girls? Well first we have to stop marginalizing and objectifying them. Rebecca Hains, and other educated women who use their voices to empower girls, recognized that the new Merida had not only lost her youthful appearance but also her bow and arrows. The loss of these was both marginalizing and objectifying her. Worldwide change starts with one voice at a time asking that our girls have strong role models both in real life and in entertainment.

    I found it odd that you needed to criticize someone so harshly who not only has a voice but who uses it without name calling and with the hopes of making changes that could ultimately benefit girls worldwide. Merida showed girls that strength, ingenuity, and a skill would allow her to be strong and independent. Why wouldn’t we want the same for girls worldwide?

    Rock on Rebecca Hains!

  39. Reblogged this on RolePlayWriter and commented:
    Role players, too, need to be aware of the characters they project. Are the choices we make in creating our characters, particularly our OCs, perpetuating stereotypes or transforming them?

    • As a roleplayer with both a twilight account and an original character I would say Yes and No, I’ve seen some who use characters that aren’t even the characters used in the movies or resemble the ones in the book. Though the same could be said for those who cast people for the movies when they are taking it from a book. I say no because you have to go with your gut when you’re deciding who is right for a specific character.

      • True in both directions. Admittedly RP is all about escape and being someone else. The parallel is see with the Disney Princesses is that so many OCs want to be Victoria Secret models or someone along those lines. There are legitimate reasons for picking avis/FCs that are models and celebrities, among them being the variety of images available, however I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t also helping perpetuate the “perfect person” ideal….

        • Agreed, I’ve seen enough of Miranda Kerr in particular to last me a lifetime. My original character uses Shia L. and admittedly sometimes I think of changing the avi to someone different for appearance reasons but then I go back to why I picked him in the first place. Ironically it’s because he was my favorite character on Even Stevens, A disney show, and his antics worked well with my OC. However I have a friend who for a very long time, I played a Jacob Black and she was my sister, used her own face for her avi in the character I admired her immensely for it yet I was never I guess the word here would be brave enough to do the same.

  40. They should have Merida back to her original form. OMG people, Merida represents a more natural person and probably what a princess would have really looked like. CHANGE HER BACK!!!!! The dolls are for the little girls, not for THE MEN!!

  41. Yeah, I’m a teenager who grew up with older princesses but honestly I don’t find a problem with the difference of images they are showing here. Disney hasn’t hit the greatest taboo in history with this. The radio it’s self is allowing curse after curse to be slipped into songs that children start to listen to as they become popular. I’m hearing children sing “thrift shop” and a middle school dance, children are grinding with one another. Disney hasn’t increased this…blame it on the generation and what were allowing our children to listen to and observe. The princess is the least of my worries at this point..

    • No, Disney is entirely to blame for this one. If Merida’s makeover is the least of your worries, that’s probably because you are neither a three year old girl nor the parent of one (I assume).
      Children dancing with each other at middle school is a different issue. It involves normal, healthy adolescent sexual exploration in a safe setting. Yes, the popular dances have become more “sexual” in that the culture as a whole has changed, and will always change. And the presentation of women and girls as sex objects is of course highly problematic. However, a middle school pupil is old enough to realise the influence of popular culture (something that IMO should be discussed in school anyway) whereas the messages a pre-school child absorbs from media should be examined closely because children of that age are too young to do it for themselves.
      Likewise, a three year old probably shouldn’t know a lot of “curses,” but a fifteen year old using swearwords is not earth-shattering; it is another part of the normal adolescent processes of rebelliion and defining one’s own identity.
      It’s great that you are viewing popular culture with a critical eye and thinking about the messages it sends, but it’s a fallacy to suggest that “X is not a problem because Y is a problem.”

  42. The same could be said for the male characters in many of the Disney movies a few exceptions of course being Milo and Kutzco, as a guy I don’t aspire to be the most fit guy around, i’m slim and girls seem to like that just fine. I’m signing this petition solely because of my niece who is five loves Disney and who I love, however I feel for my nephews who might see these characters and think this is the idea of beauty for woman and this is what woman want to see in a man.

    • Yeah, what about teh menz??!!!11!
      No, but seriously. You do have a point, Yondario, but the difference is that your nephews will not grow up with the same message as your niece; they will not be judged on their appearance above all else, and they will never receive the message that their only worth is as an object to be looked at. Your niece will receive this message her entire life.
      What is definitely a factor with regard to your nephews though, is that when we tell little girls “This is what an attractive woman looks like” we are also telling that to little boys. You may have noticed that Western standards of “beauty” are extremely narrow. While this damages women to the point of being a factor in such things as eating disorders and cosmetic surgery, it doesn’t do men any favours either.

      • If you look at mass marketing and advertising from the 1950’s on, that’s exactly what we’re heading toward. The trend is more visible with women because it’s always been there, and blatantly obvious, and so we have a clear line to follow in seeing how it’s evolved. It seems to be a general trend in imagery, however. One only needs to look at examples of masculinity in mass media from the 50’s to now to see that more androgynous looks are being favoured. As a society we seem to be allowing a pushing of a more shallow, weaker stereotype as a whole.

        I hadn’t thought of it in that light before (as a father of a young girl, I tend to be more focused on the impact on women). This has provided some more food for thought.

        • On the subject of examples of masculinity in mass media, the popularity of androgynous-looking men as fashion models etc. is only a small part and, like all fashion, is something impermanent and subject to rapid change. In the wider sense of ideas and representations of masculinity, yes, the nature of that “masculinity” has changed, as society’s notions of what constitutes masculinity change. Overall this is arguably a good thing; for example the typical father in a 1950’s film would not necessarily discuss emotions with his children. In fact the majority of the child-rearing would be done by either their mother or a nurse or nanny. Many people, particularly men, who grew up in the 50’s would recall their father as a somewhat distant figure. Compare this with the modern father who probably knows how to change a nappy and is not afraid to tell his sons “I love you.” Unless I’m mistaken you appear to be describing this man as somehow “weaker” than his 1950’s counterpart. That’s quite worrying.
          I think that you are placing physical strength quite high on the list of masculine characteristics, and although physical strength is still valued by many, it is no longer considered to be the most important quality of “masculinity”. This is hardly a bad thing, surely?

          • Ps. When examining media it’s alway important to remember that the effect goes both ways – society influences media, and media in turn influences society. Sometimes what you see in media is a reflection of society’s values, but sometimes it’s the values that the author/filmmaker/studio etc wants to encourage in society. This is obvious when you look at, say, films from the 1940’s, where a character might be a criminal, but the audience is clearly supposed to sympathise with him/her. No matter how sympathetic the character, though, the film would always involve their crime being punished, because the “bad guy” could not be seen to get away with it. The Hays Code dictated this – a clear example of media being used to push certain values.
            Obviously you’ll be familiar with the idea of propaganda, just keep in mind that it’s not always as obvious or as deliberate as your average WWII filmreel.

          • I believe, and I may be mistaken, north meant in an appearance sense what we’ve been talking about. The fact that since the 50’s we have been influenced to believe that men should be neither slim nor overly masculin in appearance sake. That a good looking man with “feminine” features are what ladies seek. Though I may be wrong lol.

      • I can concede partly to this assessment in that I was raised in a family primarily female. With seven aunts, three grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, my mother and sister still living I’ve seen it all. However the fact is my older brother I watched grow up to become the person he is now. As a child he was always on the plus size and was regrettably teased, teased so much and so often by woman that by the time he was in high school he had not only worked off the weight he had become rather a bully. Men do have these issues, we are self conscious as much as woman are, granted its not heard of as often or as much as woman, however we do go through the same. I’m with you on the issue of my nephews, I’m hoping they won’t grow to be so blinded. I’m pretty much the free spirit in my family and personally don’t care if someone what or who you are if I fall in love with you then it doesn’t matter but how to impart knowledge like that to my niece and nephews as well as any future children of my own when things like, in this case, imagery is an issue. I also see the other side to this argument as a whole as one who would buy these products I fear I might pick up the sexist merida as opposed to the “plainer” one.

        • I certainly agree with you that the high value Western society places on appearance affects men too, particularly teenagers who are already trying to cope with the massive and confusing changes of puberty. I don’t want to discount that suffering, but the fact remains that appearance is only one of the ways in which men are judged, whereas for women it’s often the *only* one. Take for example someone like a television newsreader: yes, both men and women are more likely to get this job if they are good-looking, but a male newsreader will not be fired for greying hair, while a female newsreader will be expected to dye her hair. Women are judged on their appearance all day, every day, in a way that simply isn’t the same.

          • Eh, Race and health also play into issues with men. Look at this scenario using as you said an anchor position: Person A is 50, Hispanic with cancer in remission yet he’s a seasoned radio personality. Person B is 24, African American graduated from lets say NYU and has been interning for CNN. Person C however is 22 a background in Journalism, An attractive caucasian female with no t.v. experience. Who would you say gets the job? For added points let’s pretend person a and b are both male then pretend they are both female.

            • Race is not the issue here. The point is that women are judged on their looks much more than men are, as a logical extension of women being viewed as sex objects. I don’t know why that isn’t obvious to you.

        • When it comes to being attracted to someone and how much their appearance matters, that’s really more of a personal thing, and some of the reasons we fall in love aren’t even known to us but are more subconscious (like being attracted to someone who reminds us unconsciously of a parent). Sure, some people are shallower than others and will only pursue people they consider to be very good-looking; but that’s humans for you.
          The problem comes in when we tell children “This narrow version of feminity or masculinity is the only acceptable one” or “You must fit this standard of beauty in order to be considered worthy of love” – a message which damages the self-esteem of young girls demonstrably more than young boys, and which continues to affect them in very serious ways throughout their lives.

          • I agree and disagree that its a personal thing, we could go back to the whole discussion in the first place media changing a character into something it was not. Pointing out that imagery and media influence a persons idea of sex. I could also point out that wealth, status and race played a point throughout most of history in choosing who someone would marry. Then I would point out the Amazons and Egyptians two societies that were more matriarchal in nature. I wonder how those poor men felt. In the end this is why I was so much of a comic fan. Granted comics had their issues. Physically the woman were just as strong if not stronger then the men. Everyone wears revealing costumes and their is a character for everyone. My opinion comic books the great unifier.

            • The representation of women in comic books is a whole other issue, and by no means free of problems, but they are generally meant for a much older audience.

            • I’m going to throw both replies into this one comment. As i said before I was raised by woman, my father was not around growing up so I saw it all. My grandmotheris a pastor and a caterer although those werent her only jobs those are the two i remember. My mother was a paralegal until she decided to start her own company. One of my aunts is v.p. fora branch in bank of america another is working on her doctorate. I could go on and on. You ask why i don’t see that woman are viewed more on their looks…well I could answer that a number of ways. Yes I understand the issue but being one of the few males in what I guess you would call a primarily female society as my whole world is viewed one way, my views may be skewed. The woman in my fakily are solely independent and do not necessarily need a male in their life. Furthermore I should say that they were raised by strong woman and therefore are stronger themselves because of it. These woman taught me the value of their worth and that if I didnt play my cards right no woman would need me. That withstanding I know my family is considered as a whole rather good looking and the woman especially. I have observed as a young kid that men viewed the woman on appearance first, the few who were lucky to stick around then got to see how intelligent they were and then the really lucky ones who got to marry them saw every aspect. So again yes I see that woman are viewed as sex symbols more then men however growing up i learned to put more value in woman then men. So maybe im a little biased in that I feel empathy for my fellow man when compared to a woman. Then again I’m just giving my opinion something we all are doing. As for woman in comics yes as I stated there are issues in it and is, you are correct, another issue entirely. However all that said I can’t agree with the statement about woman being viewed entirely as sex objects or to that affect. There are plenty of woman in society and history who you can not lump into this category. Woman with intelligence, strong beliefs and a stronger character have shined more throughout the centuries. Pocohantes for example wouldn’t be a great beauty by societies standards however she’s remembered in history. H.Tubman, M. Thatcher and Mother T. as well. I know im off topic but I felt I had to point out one a male perspective and two how this all affects a male kid. Thats all.

            • Dear Yondario, I’ve tried to explain this to you as simply as possible, but you don’t seem to be listening, so:
              1. Please stop going on about your family, I don’t care

              2. Women are judged on their appearance to a greater extent, from an earlier age, in every sphere of life, for their entire lives, in a way that is simply not the case for men. This idea is neither new nor radical; I am astounded that you have managed to reach adulthood without being aware of it, but I’m beginning to suspect it has something to do with the fact that when a woman tells you what being a woman is like, you refuse to listen, instead contradicting her with the benefit of your supposedly superior, priviledged male viewpoint.

              3. Assuming you can’t actually bring yourself to shut up when people are telling you about their lived experience, I do strongly suggest that you refrain from bring up such noted anti-feminists as Margaret Thatcher and Teresa of Calcutta.
              As a Roman Catholic nun, Teresa strongly opposed any form of reproductive rights for women and firmly believed, and proclaimed, that contraception is against God’s will and that even women and/or children who have been raped should not be allowed to have terminations. There are also many details of her actual treatment (or lack thereof) of the people in her care that might make you think twice about holding her in such esteem.
              Margaret Thatcher ruined Britain with a vast array of policies which targeted the poor, the working-class, and women and children, to line the pockets of the rich. The country is still struggling under the burden of her legacy.
              Both women maintained strong friendships with genocidal dictators like Augusto Pinochet and Nicolai Ceaucescu.
              Very few people who want to empower girls and women actually think highly of these two women and your proclaiming them as idols only gives the impression that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

              4. In any case if you apply a little logical thought you will see that “These women have been ‘successful’ and/or made their mark on history” has nothing to do with the fact that women are judged by their appearance as I explained (again) above.

            • Dear Redsky, you’re now being completely obtuse. Splitting hairs when I was agreeing with you? I was not pointing out M. Thatcher and Mother T. to point out their ideals but how they are represented in society. I no longer care to go into the details of that. However if I may I will say:

              1. I can speak about my family as much and as often as I like.

              2. I no more think of myself as superior nor argue with woman about an issue as multifaceted as this without hearing what they say.

              3. I believe it was a little disrespectful to me to even say those things as I’ve given nothing but respect to you. I also believe that at this point you just like to trash any man who gives an opinion you don’t particularly like.

  43. if you scroll to the bottom and compare the “old” Merida with the other, vacuous air-brushed princesses surrounding her, you can’t help but pitty her for being amond such a crowd. I think, in particular, Mulan’s look is especially disheartening.

    http://princess.disney.com/merida

    • She does stick out there, doesn’t she. I guess the real point here is that she shouldn’t. It took me a minute to even recognize Rapunzel. She’s been equally watered-down.

  44. It makes me so sad to read all the comments from people who 1. can’t or won’t see the difference, and 2. think this is a “silly” issue or a “waste of time”. I honestly thought we were doing better! Silly of me.

    • Indeed! In some cases, I think it’s willful ignorance; in other cases, I think people are so used to sexualized images of women that they can’t see this for what it is.

      If you want to know what water is like, don’t ask the fish!

      • I don’t agree fully with this assessment. I believe there are some who see the market today different then it was years ago. In my opinion this is a battle that may have been won but it’s just going to set the next princess up to be western’s idea of beauty. Which it actually is seeing as the next two princesses will be blonde’s with blue eyes and sisters at that. A pity since we were getting newer princesses from across the world. Unless people are willing to stop buying Disney merchandise this war is lost. Side note as I posted above my fear for my nephews I would also point out the fact that so many cartoons are focused on violence yet not much is done about that.

        • Actually, there are a lot of critics working on the issue of cartoon violence. If you’re interested, check out the work of Diane Levin at Wheelock College in Boston. She speaks out about cartoon violence and children constantly.

          • Has any action been taken place? I don’t mean that all cartoon violence should be banned but it should be more censored. I have a hard time when i’m babysitting my niece and nephews to find a program later in the day that does’nt have some violence in it unless I go to pbs kids and show them repeat shows they’ve seen a million times and of course their tastes are so diverse. Then I worry about forcing them to watch something they don’t want to see and of course then I realize i’m the adult so they should be happy with what I decide. Of course then I worry, because my older brother and younger sister used to boss me around, that i’m being too hard on them and you see how my day goes. I’m 23 years old and I believe I may go grey early lol.

            • I wonder if you could avoid this stress by finding activities to do while babysitting that don’t involve watching television? Arts and crafts, or nature walks, or playing a board game or whatever suits both you and your niece & nephews. Just a suggestion. We sometimes assume that watching television is the only option, when actually most kids really enjoy age-appropriate activities.

  45. My daughter just celebrated her 8th birthday party over the weekend with a sleepover (first one for my daughter). The girls slept in a tent in the backyard and watched the movie Brave. I sneaked outside for a bit and listened to them from outside the tent and giggled and felt a bit proud as I listened to them cheer for Merida when she stood up for what she beleived in and of course, kicked they boy’s butts while doing it. What young girls (and parents) love about Merida is that she is the OPPOSITE of glamorous. She is the princess who gets dirty, has a wicked aim, outsmarts the boys at their own games, loves who she is, and desparately tries to convince her parents that she doesn’t HAVE to be like “the other girls” who in the movie marry young. The message is good. Why mess with that? I know that my 8 year old gifted athlete/tomboy really idendified with Merida and has a (nerf) archery set because of it. I think this movie was an outside factor that told her it’s okay to be herself (aka not a girly girl).

    This new “sexy” Merida doesn’t even have a bow and arrow… what the hell? That completely changes the character and what she was all about. Now the new Merida… ***A CHILD**** has make-up, the appearance of a smaller waist and bigger boobs, off the shoulder dress, no bow and arrow, and perfectly quaffed hair. Not AT ALL the spunky, curious, quirky girl who could outsmart and kick the boys butts any day of the week. Shame on Disney!!!!!!!!

    Do I think this one movie or doll revamp will ruin a child’s self esteem… NO. I understand that I am in contol of that. But it’s just one more thing that pushes sexuality on young girls… and a so-called child friendly company -DISNEY- is pushing sexy down our kids throats. It’s NOT acceptable!!!!! I plan to show the new Sexed up version of Merida to my 8 year old and explain how marketing tries to control what we think and how we percieve things.

    • This is so well stated. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and perspective! Will you let me know how the conversation with your 8-year-old goes? I’d love to hear what you say and how she responds.

  46. Brenda Chapman herself says: “I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida” and I agree.

    I think it’s atrocious what they’ve done to their “princesses” in general.

    I’ll come out and say it now, I really REALLY hate the Disney Princess franchise with a passion. I love the characters, the ORIGINAL characters, but I despise what Disney has done to them.

    They’ve turned some truly great characters like Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella (my God… what have they done to you, Cindy??!) into bland, lifeless corporate mascots. It’s incredibly disrespectful and downright offensive marketing ploy to anyone who loves and studies classic animation.

    And now, thanks to the “Princess Franchise”, they’ve created this stupid misconception with people that great movies like SNOW WHITE or CINDERELLA were made for five year old girls which was NOT the case. Those classic movies were made just as much for adults as they were for kids. That the modern day Disney does not remember that is just shameful.

    People don’t look at these characters as individual characters anymore with their own unique backstories and worlds… thanks to the marketing idiots at Disney, they look at them as corporate mascots that babysit little girls.

    Read more about the atrocities Disney is committing to their classic characters here (WARNING: May cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and violent seizures due to all the bright unicorn-barf colors and off-model drawings):

    http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Disney_Princess

    ^UGLY with a capital U!!! And wtf… Mulan isn’t even a princess!!! So is the requirement to be “a princess” now just to be female?

  47. Pingback: La Femme Critique: Marketing Merida | Word of the Nerd

  48. Don’t ask a fish what water is like…and if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you’ll be sure to find it. Over react much? The changes from the neck down are subtle. She has little boobs now. So what? The major changes to the image are from the neck up. The hair is fuller. Is that sexy hair? Who knows? Someone searching for a needle could make that argument, I suppose. The major change is in the eyes. Are they sexy eyes? I don’t know…the updated image makes her look more like a curly haired Ariel. They need to keep the bow and arrow in the image so all us males who find Disney cartoon images sexy can tell the two apart.

    • Mike… I’m pretty sure that if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you WON’T find it.

      Sadly, in our culture, sexualized images of girls are much *less* rare than needles in haystacks. If they were, the girl empowerment community wouldn’t have so much work to do! We have an obligation to speak out when the rare non-sexualized characters like Merida are made over.

      If you don’t think it’s a big deal, you’re missing out on years of literature documenting the negative effects of media sexualization on children.

      • You missed the point with the “needle in the haystack” reference. Yes, you’re looking in a haystack…and you “found” one (that is, you made one up).

        I’m not discounting the sexualization of girls on the whole. I’m saying you and the rest up in arms over this are overshooting your intended target. And that’s sad because when you cry wolf over a case like this, it inevitably muffles the screams when there is a legitimate argument to be made.

        I have two daughters, and neither of them ever trashed their t-shirts as described. I think that’s more a statement about the failings of parents than the DC. It’s so sad that our culture has turned into a culture of blame rather than accountability.

        And you know I’m right about the eye change making her look like Ariel now! ;)

          • I admire your passion.

            And due to that passion, I expect you give equal time to lambasting the many parents who disagree with the sexualization of the Disney princesses yet obviously allow their daughters to be over-exposed to said princesses. Could you please provide a link to such a blog post? I’d be interested in reading that. Thanks.

            PS-If you’re too anal to think wee bit outside of the box on the idiom, so be it.

            • Oh, and I didn’t say that I don’t see the sexualization of the character. What I don’t see is the extreme sexualization that is implied. Hopefully Disney will create a traditionally dressed Amish Princess…maybe then you’ll be satisfied. :)

            • Why does sexualization need to be extreme to be a problem? Any amount of sexualization in a children’s property is a problem. Full stop.

            • I have no interest in lambasting parents. Most parents are doing the very best they can with the resources they have at their disposal.

              In fact, I’ve spent the past two years interviewing parents about how they negotiate the unavoidably ubiquitous princess culture. The results have been enlightening, showing just how good Disney is at marketing to this age group–and how it is nearly impossible for even terrific parents to mitigate.

              Unfortunately, I can’t do a blog post on that topic because of my contract with my publisher, for whom I’m writing a book on that topic. It’s called Confronting Cinderella: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, and it’s due out in 2014. I hope you’ll watch for it.

            • There’s a difference between “thinking outside the box” and using a figure of speech when you actually mean its exact opposite. The way language works is that we all agree on the meaning of words, so congratulations on being a free spirit and making up your own definitions, but you’ll probably find that the result of your creativity is that nobody actually understands what you’re saying.

  49. I think people are looking way to much into this. Kids don’t care. And neither do I. My cartoons smoked and drank and beat each other up, and I’m still a decent person, kind to others, and an upstanding citizen. I get so tired of everyone whining about how corporations are corrupting our youth, not allowing them to think freely, etc. Guess what, that comes from bad parenting. Not cartoons. Set a good example for your kids people, don’t rely on a cartoon to.

  50. I’m glad the new shiny Merida has been repealed. For me, I’m hoping that this whole thing won’t affect how many Pixar movies feature heroines like her. Maybe that’s me being alarmist. As much as I’m grateful for the artists who have created immortal characters for many generations to love, I don’t trust Disney as far as I can throw them.

  51. Did you not actually watch the movie? The whole story revolves around Merida growing up. The character moves from a self-centered whiny teen to a responsible mature adult. Do you know anyone that has made that transition mentally but didn’t change physically as a result? Merida understands her responsibilities as a princess as they were taught to her by her mother. She also keeps the ability to ride and hunt as taught by her father. She is not defined by the clothes that she wears she is defined by her actions.

    As for Disney wanting to make money, all I can say is, “Duh?”. Do you know of any entertainment corporations that don’t want to have a successful product? Do you really think that the marketing department at Disney is planning on only ever having Merida in her new Princess Costume? They will use this as an opportunity to double her market appeal. They now have two characters in one. There is the Princess Merida that must play the diplomat and be the politician that her mother has always been and there is Adventure Merida that will go into the forest and defend her kingdom against all comers.

    My daughters are 7 & 5. I love the fact that Merida is their favorite. My 7 yo wanted a bow for Christmas and has learned to shoot quite well solely because of her love for Merida. Now she can see that there is more to growing up than riding and hunting in the forest and for that I thank Disney for continuing to give girls powerful role models…

    BTW, where was all your outrage when Mulan hung up her sword and put on her dress? Do you think Belle lost her love of books when she fell in love with Beast? Did Jesse’s cowgirl spirit crumble when we found out she had a thing for Buzz? Change is life people. Take a lesson from the dinosaurs, “Adapt or Die”.

    • Hi, Joshua:

      It seems you are a bit late to the party, as the girl empowerment community has been complaining about Disney’s treatment of its princesses (such as Mulan) for years. Check out the archives on Peggy Orenstein’s blog to get a sense of this post’s place in the overall conversation.

      Yes, I’ve seen Brave and am quite familiar with it. And to answer your question, yes–people change on the inside without external changes every day. Oddly, your post makes it sound like anytime a girl goes through a growth experience, she gains a cup size–which we know is not the case! ;)

      Merida was created specifically as a role model for girls who breaks the mold and stands out from the crowd of the other Disney Princesses. By having her appearance regress to the mean, CP is being untrue to the character–and selling out girls’ best interests in hopes of making a few more bucks.

      Just because Disney’s Consumer Products Division thinks it CAN double its market share with this new Merida doesn’t mean it SHOULD.

  52. Simply dressing Merida up in a pretty gown and taking away her weapons is not in and of itself marginalizing or objectifying her. Embracing your beauty and femininity does not dimish your equality or character, and her bow and arrows are not what made her a strong heroine.

    Where I do see merit to the complaint is in looking at how the other pricesses have also been altered from their original appearance. The fact that all of them appear more sexy now adds some weight to the argument I think.

    From a standpoint of equality, Merida has made a similar impact and contribution as the other princesses and deserves equal treatment. In this case a gorgeous princess gown is appropriate I think, and could have been done with more taste.

    • So are you trying to say that Merida was not beautiful or feminine before her “makeover?”
      The point of Merida’s story is not that she is “unfeminine.” The point is that she rejects traditional, restrictive notions of femininity such as “Girls don’t hunt, they don’t do archery, they’re supposed to look pretty and do embroidery.” Merida is not trying to be a man so she can enjoy “masculine” pursuits. She is a girl who takes part in activities that are traditionally seen as “masculine”. The film deals very progressively with ideas of femininity and masculinity, which is why forcing Merida back into a more “traditionally” feminine look is so inappropriate.
      Incidentally, the narrow definition of femininity against which Merida struggles actually belongs more to 1950’s America than 16th century Scotland.

  53. Pingback: some thoughts on being brave | julie kundhi

  54. Petitions are nice and all, but Disney owns merida and her trademark and can do whatever the fuck they want to with it. Perhaps they altered her a bit to make her not look out of place next to the other princesses. Stop going too deep into things people. It’s like you keep looking for something to get mad at.

    • “Perhaps they altered her a bit to make her not look out of place next to the other princesses.” Yes, that’s exactly what they did, and it’s exactly what folks are objecting to.

    • Sadly, jihn, we don’t actually need to look for things to get angry about. They’re all around us.

  55. Pingback: After massive protest, Disney pulls new Merida from site | Reel Girl

  56. Mulan is pretty hardcore but you don’t see folks kicking up a fuss because shes not wearing her armor in the lineup.

    • Actually, there have been lots of complaints about that; for one example, see Peggy Orenstein’s blog.

      But one key difference is that Mulan was part of the Disney Princess lineup from the start. No one knew how huge Princess would become. Now that we see what a behemoth it has become, and how influential it is in girls’ lives, people are more attuned and ready to push back against such problems of representation.

      • My worry is that people are starting to confuse representations of violence with empowerment. The two are not synonymous. Empowerment is in the will to choose her own destiny, but people focus on how she’s dressed or the potentially lethal actions she takes.

        • Northcott, it’s difficult to empower women and young girls when they are being given the message all their lives that they are only worth something if men think they are attractive.

          • I agree entirely, but that doesn’t touch upon the issue at hand, where violence is confused with empowerment. Violent action may be required, but it is not empowerment in and of itself — and the tools and symbols of violence do not make one empowered. I think that’s a critical element that most people don’t grasp, given how sanitized violence is in our culture.

            The real thing is swift, brutal, and horrific. It leaves scars both physical and mental that may last a lifetime — even if you’re the one who wins. I’m not against violence per se, but I believe in keeping the bigger picture in mind. The weapon does not empower; the will does.

            • I don’t think anyone here has actually confused violence with empowerment, though. If you’re talking about Mu-Lan, the critical point is not that she kills a bunch of people; it’s that she enters a male-dominated sphere of influence and therefore challenges the narrow notion of femininity her society tries to push on her i.e. “Girls can’t be soldiers, that’s for men.” The traditional femininity being forced on her is one which makes women passive, objects to be acted upon, as opposed to active, agents who act of their own volition. It’s not the violence that empowers her, it’s this agency.

  57. Another great example of extreme feminism and stupid politics exploding over an insignificant cartoon image… just keep bitching, because no ones listening :)

    • No one’s listening–except for you, John, who took the time to read and comment on this post!

    • Over 100k views in 24 hours. I guess some people could consider that “nobody”, if they’re trying really hard to not see reality.

        • Does the 130K exclude repeat views? This post has taken on a bit of a FB virality. It is an interesting debate, to say the least.

          • That’s unique page views. Unbelievable.

            Say what you will about Disney Princesses–they’re a bit of a lightning rod in the parenting world these days.

            • Silly us, our mistake for thinking that the views of thousands of women carry the same weight as those of one man!

  58. I was wondering why so many guests were coming in from WordPress into our site (Mousesteps) – thanks for the mention Shannon! Merida pretty much looked the same in person as she always has. I like the older version better, she looks younger and more independent.

  59. “..instead, she wears a fashionable sash…” HEY, that’s her tartan. http://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails.aspx?ref=10641. I think of all the changes on the redesign, including her tartan made the most sense. Also, it didn’t replace her bow & arrows; there were other pictures with the redesign that had her bows and arrows in them.

    I generally dislike the new, made up look of Merida and the off-the-shoulder design of the dress in particular. I hope the protest changes these things, although with the amount of products with the new design on them, it’s rather late in the game. Disney announced this redesign last month as well.

    • Including Merida’s tartan does make a certain amount of sense, although it’s not really historically accurate. But placing it as they have doesn’t really make any sense – a sash that goes over one shoulder would make more sense. Of course, that would cover up at least one of her boobs, which is probably why they didn’t do it.

      • I think also, as Rebecca Pahle from themarysue.com pointed out here http://www.themarysue.com/merida-character-redesign-disney/, the dress redesign was supposed to mesh the two dresses that Merida wore in the movie-her formal betrothal gown and her casual dress, I think they wanted to add the tartan without substantially changing her new design from those two dresses. (And it’s not like Brave was a stickler for historical accuracy anyway-though I bet there’s some fun fan-art out there somewhere.)

  60. As a mother of a young daughter, Merida is my go to princess. The one princess out of the entire Disney franchise that I feel is a fantastic representation of strength and independence of spirit I hope she achieves. I am my daughters biggest role model, but that doesn’t change the fact that she will also look to society and over saturated marketing for social cues and expected norms. In the realm of the Disney princess, where they have tried in more recent years to bring about characters that had more value than just their looks, the have ultimately failed. (Bright young Ariel gives up her identity for love, brainy Belle chooses someone emotionally abusive, etc.) Merida stays true to herself, while still growing and learning. Her image, as a fiery girl with unruly hair that climbs cliffs and shoots an arrow is one that means far more to me as a mom than a princess whose only outward asset is that she’s the most beautiful girl in the land. (Aurora) it is crucial to me that my daughter sees examples like this in the media, particularly in the one thing most heavily marketed to her as a preschool girl. A Merida with almond eyes, lack of freckles, overemphasized hips and a smoothed mane is a more “prettified” if not sexualized version of Merida. It’s not the Merida we fell in love with as a role model to our daughters. And we have every right to be angry that they’ve turned our tomboy into a prom queen. If you don’t get that, you’re part of the problem.

  61. Pingback: “The Brave” Makeover Debate | Christian Michael

  62. Pingback: Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover

    • Yes, there are bad things happening all over the world. Does that mean we should neglect the issues facing us at home because they appear trivial when compared to fanatical oppression or genocide? Food for thought.

  63. There is a lot of “slut-shaming” and sexuality shaming being tossed around in this thread.

    • Yes, and it’s mainly being done by people who deny that there’s anything wrong with Merida’s makeover because “teens I don’t know are dressing too sexy wwaaahh…”
      Unfortunately I think “you have no business judging what a random woman wears” is a bit advanced for folks who are still struggling with “we probably shouldn’t be trying to make a character marketed to little girls all ‘sexy'” if you know what I mean.

  64. I don’t know why you people are complaining. I’m a guy, and I see nothing sexist or sexually exploitative in the 2D rendition of Merida. She seems to look exactly as one would expect, and ‘sex’ was the last thing that came to my mind. And the example that you gave in the children’s book is atrocious; it’s far too minimalistic and lacks detail.

    I suggest you people tone down the Feminazi dial and stop looking for faults where there is none.

    • “I don’t know why you people are complaining. I’m a guy.”

      Okay, so you’re a guy. Put yourself in Batman’s shoes, then, and see if you can get a little perspective:

      http://thedaysarelongandshort.com/post/50220183714/the-brave-and-the-bold

      PS If you think this moderate, reasonable post is “Feminazi” content, well–a) I’ll take that as a compliment (because apparently I’m rocking your sheltered worldview), and b) good luck to you if you ever find yourself up against radical feminists! Wow.

  65. Women outnumber men. Why are we still allowing them to be in charge and keep calling the shots?

  66. Pingback: [link] Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | feimineach.com

  67. Does anyone else think that the 2D-Childrenbook version is in fact slimmer than the princess-version or the 3D-Model? How does this fit into your argumentation? Is she already sexualized in this book? Because she’s drawn differently from the 3D-model?

    Also wow… never considered a belt as means of sexualisation before.

    • The 2D children’s book version doesn’t have the coy facial expression and posture that mitigate her original strength and character. Nor does it appear bustier and in a slightly more revealing gown. You see, it’s not JUST her waist size (or, “wow,” the belt)–it’s about the whole constellation of variables working together.

      For a cartoonist’s take on this (using Batman as an example!), check out http://thedaysarelongandshort.com/post/50220183714/the-brave-and-the-bold

      • His reply is good for comedy, but not much else. He oversells the idea too much for it to be taken seriously, and is factually incorrect at several points. (Ironically, the image of Tarzan — who he uses as an example on that page — was altered in this precise way to make it more marketable to the public)

        Again, I agree they went overboard with the design changes… but criticizing something like the inclusion of her belt and sash is not just inane, but it transgresses into the insulting when the bearing of a clan tartan is used to make such an example (dismissed as a shimmering sash… really). Nor does the posture really mitigate her strength of character in any way, shape, or form. Look up the basics on how profilers, police, and psychologists interpret crossed arms. Hint: It’s not “submissive”. Not in the slightest. That pose is nothing short of defiant and bemused. Hardly “weak and submissive”.

        Once more: I agree that they went overboard, and changes need to be made. Grotesquely over-stating the case does nothing but undermine your point, however.

        • FYI, Northcott, context is key in reading body language. Crossed arms do not automatically signal defensiveness, as popular belief would have it. Sometimes it is a gesture of self – comfort (literally giving oneself a hug) and sometimes it is done to draw attention to the breasts while simultaneously making them appear higher.
          Compare with a man putting his hands on his hips: sometimes this is an aggressive gesture, but in a different setting it functions as a way to draw attention to the groin.

    • A belt draws attention to the waist, particularly if it is used to draw in a loose garment. The emphasis of the difference between the waist and the hips is one way to display sexual characteristics, because the change in waist-to-hip ratio is part of sexual maturity (small children do not have narrow waists and wide hips).
      Also, next time you see a man wearing a huge belt buckle (it’s probably in the shape of Texas or something) observe how the buckle draws the eye to the crotch area.

      • PS Make sure you don’t get caught looking though, God forbid anyone think you’re gay amirite?

  68. Pingback: Disney faces backlash over new “sexy” Merida; pulls new image from web site as a result | Beautiful World

  69. Pingback: Disney bows down to BRAVE fans

  70. ‘I hate the new Merida redesign because I support women’s rights, so I’m going to dictate everything my daughters read/view and decide for myself what’s appropriate for them’- Anyone else see anything wrong with this mindset?

    • So, 4-year-old girls should have complete freedom to decide what is appropriate for them? What a novel parenting idea!

    • Yes, obviously there’s something wrong with it: it undermines patriarchal society’s attempts to indoctrinate children early. Sorry.

  71. The only Disney FEMALE character who HAD character was Belle, in Beauty & the Beast. Her looks were not emphasized. She was brave, singlehandedly fighting off wolves. She sacrificed herself to save her father. She was strong, defying the fearsome Beast. She was no melting idiot, waiting to be rescued by some big strong man. She was intelligent, preferring her books to the company of the handsomest man in the town. She saw behind the Beast’s exterior to his heart. My daughters and grandchildren would be better off seeing Belle than all the Disney Princesses who were actually secondary characters, as they didn’t ACT, but were acted upon by the big strong men who were their rescuers.
    The changes in Merida are typical of the image that advertising promotes as the feminine ideal, especially young girls. (Yes, they DO seem to have a prejudice against redheads!)

    • Yes–have you seen how Belle looks in the current Disney Princess merchandising lineup? As Peggy Orenstein noted, it looks as though she’s had plastic surgery!

    • Belle is a great character, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that her looks were not emphasised; she is the “Beauty” in “Beauty and the Beast” after all. Even her name means “beautiful.” Gaston wants to marry her despite the fact that she clearly can’t stand him, mainly because of what she looks like (also, thanks to patriarchal society, her father’s property will become his) and genuinely has no idea there’s anything wrong with that. It doesn’t even occur to him that a wife should be someone you can have a conversation with.
      Also, the Beast becomes handsome in the end, ironically emphasising the ridiculous notion that outward appearance is an indication of character. Compare that with Fiona and Shrek.

  72. Pingback: Disney turns the heroine Merida into a sexy babe, sparks outrage – Marketing, Media and Childhood

  73. Pingback: Cartoonists and animation experts weigh in: the new Merida doesn’t HAVE to look this way | Rebecca Hains

  74. Pingback: Why Sexing Things Up For Kids Is Stupid: A Study in Illustrations

  75. May I ask why everyone is so goddamned busy trying to find sexualization in a new drawing of a prepubescent fictional girl?

    • I think if you bothered to actually read the article or the comments you’d know the answer to that question. In case you’re too lazy to do so, the answer is because the images small children see affect them deeply, and parents naturally don’t want their children absorbing harmful messages in their media.

      • PS I just checked out yor Facebook page and wow, that is quite a collection of misogyny and racism you’ve got there. I look forward to seeing you on Sexistfacebookdudes. Do you actually use the word “darkies” in real life? Good luck with that. You know potential employers can see that stuff, right?

  76. Reblogged this on lowdramamama and commented:
    COME ON DISNEY. You can do it. You can break your own self-made mold. You can toss aside your old mess of conditions for princess-hood. You can FIX IT. And you should fix it. I hope you have fixed it.

  77. It’s upsetting to me that Disney couldn’t find a happy medium between the “princess” and the heroine. It is important for marketing and general cohesiveness that Merida fit into the lineup of princesses without being awkward, but this did not need to strip her of the strong characteristics fans have grown to love.

  78. Wow, that’s a pretty overt change. I’m unacquainted with that Disney character or story but, frankly, when I glanced at the two images I thought one was of her mother. It’s heartening to hear that so many rose up in protest with such ferocity and speed to force some changes.

    Now, if we could only get the country as a whole to rise up and say the same thing about women in general. Sorry, ladies, but fist pumping and shouting “Girl Power” isn’t fooling anyone. When you buy clothes for your toddler that has a tiny fitted bra inside, when you let your teenager go to school dressed like a twenty dollar Hollywood hooker, when support your eight-year-old in her diet to “lose that baby fat,” you need help.

      • So true, Rebecca. Hopefully, we will be part of (or at least witness to) an up swell that sees ladies of all ages unabashedly exercise their natural power simply because it personally and individually feels good to do so.

            • Thanks for your intelligent and measured reply. It shows that you not only took the ~2 minutes to read my comments, but actually understood them – even though some of the words had more than two syllables – and managed to grasp some concepts which are entirely new to you. It’s heartening to see an older person who is still able and willing to learn new things and broaden her worldview beyond the 1940s concept of how a woman should live her life. Your response is full of insight; it contributes greatly to the discussion and shows you are intelligent and not at all ignorant or backwards.

              (I’m guessing that since you watch Jon Stewart you might be able to pick up on sarcasm. There’s not much point in talking to you any more so I’ll just ask you again, please, for the sake of the world, don’t breed. Nobody deserves to be brought up with your disturbingly misogynist notions).

    • Allthoughtswork, you are not the Morality Police. You have no business judging teenage girls’ fashion choices. Their bodies belong only to them, it’s none of your business what anyone else wears.

      • My mom taught me a wonderful saying in junior high school that I never forgot: “Don’t advertise if you’re not selling.”

        • My mum taught me a better one: “Wear whatever you want, your body belongs to you and anyone who tries to tell you differently is an asshole.”
          Are you familiar with the concept of slut-shaming?

            • Your response indicates that no, you have no idea what slut-shaming is. It is the shaming of women for having or enjoying sexual feelings. I’m sorry that you’re stuck in the old-fashioned, misogynistic mindset your mother passed on to you, but the entire concept of the “slut” is deeply problematic, being rooted in the idea that a) there is a “right” amount of sex or number of sexual partners for a woman to have (but not a man) b) that women should be shamed for enjoying sex and c) that other people have the right to police a woman’s sex life.
              Given that on your website, you describe yourself by means of an extended metaphor wherein you liken yourself to a car, it seems you don’t have a problem with thinking of women as objects rather than human beings. Here in the 21st century, however, most people find that kind of thinking to be very disturbing. Please don’t breed.

  79. Reblogged this on Rise Like Air and commented:
    We truly hope that Disney listens and encourage Merida to be herself instead of bowing to the media pressure to look and act a certain way. Rise Like Air celebrates princesses (and all people) who stay true to themselves!

  80. I must admit that I don’t get what the fuss is about. The only real change is the style and a slightly smaller waist.

  81. Thought you’d like to know that Disney officially reached out to me to comment on the controversy: http://www.insidethemagic.net/2013/05/exclusive-disney-bravely-responds-to-merida-makeover-outrage-says-2d-new-look-was-for-limited-use-only/

    In summary: The 2D version was intended for “limited” use only (the coronation and on a few select products for Target) and the official Princess web site was never changed. It always showed CG Merida, not the 2D version.

    • Interesting. Thanks! But go look at the Australia/NZ Disney Princess site. It’s slathered with New Merida. Did they mean the limited use for only certain territories? It’s being used broadly elsewhere.

      Here are two screen shots for you:
      Official Disney Princess home page (Australia)

      Official Merida home page (Australia)

  82. When did shoulders become sex objects? She shouldn’t use conditioner or leave home unarmed? I don’t think those images are sexual at all, and I don’t think feminine appearance is a negative thing. Granted, the character should be portrayed as her story originally intended, but people might be seeing what was never there.

    • Bare shoulders on a woman are definitely part of dressing “sexy” which is one reason why most corporate environments are not full of female executives in off-the-shoulder business suits.
      Merida would not see any need to use conditioner in her hair even if such a thing had been invented in medieval Scotland.
      “Feminine appearance” is what Merida had originally, in that she appeared to be a human being of the female sex. What you’re talking about is a sexualised appearance, which is not a bad thing when a grown woman chooses it, but is entirely inappropriate for an image aimed at five-year-olds and particularly inappropriate for a character whose main story arc revolves around her lack of interest in dressing and acting in “traditionally feminine” ways.

      • There is a bit of hipocracy here too… not on your part, but on the part of parents in general. Walk into any Target and look at the swim suits they are selling for the 10 and under crowd. If they’re not “barely there” bikinis then they are off the shoulder one pieces for 5 year olds! And parents are BUYING THEM. I personally sit in awe of what most parents allow their very young children to wear, so I guess I can’t be too suprised when Disney does something like this.

        • Sarah, I really don’t think the parents who buy (what you consider to be) “inappropriate” clothing for their children are the same parents who are annoyed at Merida’s makeover, so I don’t think the charge of hypocrisy is fair.
          The issue of how parents are trying to compete with the multi-billion-dollar marketing power of Disney has already been covered several times in this thread. They could use a break.
          Personally, I’m not convinced there’s anything wrong with a five year old wanting to wear a bikini like her mum, but the Merida makeover factors into the general sexualising of children so if you have a problem with that, why would complaining about this issue make you a hypocrite?

  83. This is a very interesting article and it has made me see the way Disney princesses are portrayed in a whole new light. Our generation really is too sexualised.

  84. Pingback: My alternatives to the Disney princess Merida from “Brave” | Shapechanger Tales

  85. I didn’t even know where was a Princess Hall of Fame…personally, by looking at the comparison pictures, I couldn’t tell the difference. Except for the face, which was poorly rendered in 2D in my opinion and just looked…off.

    But I do agree about the sexualization of the Disney Princesses and with the evidence of Merida’s depiction in the children’s book it really is sad that they would go and change her appearance so she could “fit in” as a princess. I thought by releasing this movie, we were somewhat past this stage of cartoon sexification. I guess, it’s not quite there yet.

  86. I feel the same kind of disappointment when I see supposedly strong, independent policewomen in TV shows and movies who dress in low cut shirts and 6 inch heels. Who chases bad guys up ladders and over walls while wearing 6 inch heels? What does the woman gain when men are more interested in her chest than what is coming out of her mouth?

  87. The sexualization we teach our kids has become increasingly more disturbing for me with each passing day. I’m a mother of a 5 year old and 3 year old girl, and keeping them from images, clothes, and music that can only prove to become detrimental to their healthy development is a daily task because it’s EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING.

    I’m only 25. Had my first daughter two weeks before my 19th birthday. Before her birth, this all seemed very normal to me….because sadly it is. The done up and naked women on every magazine stand you pass. The provocative and sometimes downright trashy lyrics in all our songs. The barely there clothes. All normal. But after becoming a mom and seeing my child start to pose inappropriately for pictures, or sing raunchy lyrics in the car, I realized just how not normal these things were and the programing that these images and sounds do to us as women, and more importantly to our little girls. Then the more I payed attention to trying to keep my kids from these things, the more I realized it’s next to impossible with out living inside of a bubble.

    Aside from this uneasy discovery, I started to notice that this stuff is CLEARLY being shoved down our kids throats in damn near all the things that are geared towards our kids to begin with. I’ve thrown out packs of brand new underwear for my girls for being cut more provocatively that my own panties. Images of candy and ice cream cones licking their lips on the front of my childs underwear. Girls clothes have become nothing more than miniature adult clothes. I’ll watch a kids movie with my kids (of course, mostly disney) where the basis of the movie is a love story with close intimacy, kissing, and touching in pretty much ALL of them. And as I see these things I can’t help but think, WHY??? WHAT’S THE FUCKING PURPOSE OF THIS??? WHY IS IT NORMAL AND OKAY TO TEACH OUR KIDS HOW TO BE IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP, DO MAKE UP, AND DRESS LIKE A SLUT??? Because as far as I’m concerned, these are all things that are plain and simply UNNECESSARY and can easily just NOT be done. Stores filled with make up kits for kids, fake nails, etc. BUT WHY??? Our kids are not being kids. We’re training and teaching our kids how to be an adult from birth. The problem is, we’re pretty SHITTY adults when you look closely and analyze who we are and what we do as a society. And it’s NORMAL to us. It’s become “cute” to watch our little girls prance around with make up on, tight/skimpy little outfits, and dress up as Nicki Minaj for Halloween. I had a co-worker who talked about how obsessed her 8 year old daughter was with Nicki Minaj, and while I made sure not to comment on her choice as a mother to allow that to even become possible, I couldn’t understand how that was ok. My kids know who Nicki Minaj is, but there’s no way in hell I’ll give them enough access to her to even gain that level of admiration for a woman who basis her career on being a human “Barbie”. And please, PLEASE dont get me started on Barbie lol.

    I’m not writing this claiming to be a perfect role model for my girls void of any of these doings or characteristics. And honestly, sometimes it’s just easier not to fight it because it’s such an impossible task to. And being a mom, and a single mom at that, is already a difficult enough job without having to fight all of society while doing it. But I notice it. I see the happenings. It’s sickening and no way defendable or condonable, no matter how much the majority of people defend and condone it. And as far as I can tell, it’s only going to become increasingly worse.

    Annnndddd…..I just blogged. On someone else’s blog. Sorry, I tend to be long winded, or so I’m told.

  88. Pingback: Disney’s Still Selling Merchandise Of Prettied-Up Merida From ‘Brave’

  89. I believe Merida didn`t changed that much. The style of art is different what, of course, cause some difference. Her hair still seems pretty wild in my opinion.
    Merida was already skinny on the movie, it can be seen when she wears the blue dress ( http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-56IGi704t_8/UZRxGmSbH8I/AAAAAAAAA5k/DvWPVE0gs2U/s1600/Merida+Blue.jpg), the green one seems more loose and is surely more comfortable for her to run around.

    Chapman is probably upset for not being the director of the film she concept-ed. I can understand if every time Merida get a version that doesn’t have her touch she feels like it is “Atrocious” . There is a very personal involvement there, it must be considered.

    I don’t think the new look compromises Merida in any way. Just change velvet for silk on her dress and it will cause most of the difference seen.

    Search Merida in google images and you will see lots of versions of her, just because artists have their own art style.

    About the huge issue on her being “more mature”, I don’t think she look more mature in the new illustration than what she looks on the original version. And if it is about the actress on the coronation, c’mon guys, I think we can’t have 16yo teenagers acting as princess on Disney parks.

    If the important thing is her personality, why is these angered people attaching the personality to her looks? One thing should have nothing to do with other.

    Despite, in my opinion, the only reason she ended the movie single is because all the 3 guys that could marry her are… pathetic -_- poorly built characters. Also, Merida will give those boys no chance, she makes it clear.
    But, can you remember her reaction when this guys get the screnn (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-a-81ih9DVnc/UZQ2QJKjoGI/AAAAAAAAA4k/xpwiz8IoHe8/s1600/image_134095_3.jpg)?
    She has “high” standards (considering her culture and so on). The only reason there is no romance in the movie is because there are no prince available and with that in mind, why is Merida a better role model than any other princess? (I like her, but must tease a little :P)

    Getting a pretty dress wont make Merida less worthy, and to think so is diminish her. Imo.

      • That is a big possibility, what with the Japanese animation getting quite popular in the states now. Check the Japanese disney website, Merida is not yet included in the Disney princess lineup.

  90. One is a 2D drawing the other is a 3D render, that is the only difference I can see.
    Am I missing something?

    If there is a difference, it is so slight I doubt that anyone would notice let alone make it the raison d’etre for their going to see the film nor do I think it would have an impact on children.Children see much much worse on MTV, the Disney Channel and well advertisements, seriously any ad.

  91. They should have known better: stick to selling characters that kill and maim, no need to ply children with immorality, or Images of the evil Butterfly they will one day become.

  92. So glad it’s been pulled off the internet. I just pray that we won’t be seeing anymore of that despicable version. Enough of this “you just have to be sexy” stereotypes that have been shoved down the throats of little girls. I always hoped Disney would be the brand to keep our young girls wholesome. Looks like things are changing gradually. *sad sigh* Well, at least, good sense has won this one.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    • I believe the Consumer Products Division was trying to bring her in like with the more passive, stereotypically pretty damsel-type that dominates the rest of the Princess line. After all, that type of merch has a great track record in the marketplace. Why risk an empowered character? Empowerment is new, and what’s new is “risky.” Ugh.

  93. am interested to see what will happen when Disney introduce Princess Leia and Amidala into the Hall of Princess fame… what will happen then? If Leia is in the infamous chainmail bikini have they sexualised her? Or would they go for an off the shoulder version of the snow planet look (chilly!). And if they do change her physique can Carrie Fisher sue them for misrepresentation?

    • I suspect they won’t introduce the Star Wars characters into the lineup, as they’re not fairy tale based; but if they did, all this is pretty good evidence that DCP wouldn’t respect the source material, isn’t it?

      • So this whole thing is much more interesting than I thought. I’ve heard some men note the less than ideal depiction of the male characters in the movie. They weren’t complaining, they were just noting it seemed the males were portrayed as ugly or rather dumb, and that the movie uses that to reinforce the strong female character. Or they admit, that’s how they see it through their man-goggles :)
        They said they liked the strong female character as a role model for their daughters.
        I am curious about the trend of ‘dumbing down’ males to boost female strength, or intelligence, or what have you.
        I liked this post. I was glad it listed the differences. I did not notice them at first. I mean, clearly their were differences, but they were subtle to me with regard to sexualizing her body. This led me to wonder if this is happening with male characters as well. It seems that way in other media.
        So, as a bigger picture, what are your thoughts on the demeaning of males as also a harmful practice? 1) it’s clearly bad for males 2) it makes the statement that women can only compete with the slower more unattractive half of the species. This seems demeaning to females.
        Thank you again for the post. It’s been quite a while since I’ve taken in a Disney film.

        • Oh, the demeaning of males is certainly a harmful practice. I think it became trendy to present dads as doltish, for example, beginning in the early 90s with shows like The Simpsons and Home Improvement. Lovable dolts, yes–but when a characterization becomes so common that it’s a default in pop culture, it’s definitely problematic.

          Of course, in the shows targeting young boys specifically, the doltishness isn’t really the issue–it’s the violence and exaggerated action scenes. Just as girls who love princesses are being exposed to strong messages about the female beauty ideal from too early an age, boys who love superheroes etc. are being exposed to strong messages about violence and masculinity from too early an age.

          In other words, age compression in children’s media is a really dangerous thing.

  94. For all the parents who are upset about their daughters growing up with the thoughts that you have to look like a Disney princess to be beautiful…take the iPad out of your kids hands, the iPod out of their ears and parent your kids rather than letting them grow up learning from social media…always remember…kids are a blank slate when born, we as parents draw their personalities on that slate as they grow up…if they grow up with no self esteem, look in the mirror…there are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. However, a multitude of studies show that children are shaped not just by parents, but also by society, the media, and their peers. In fact, from roughly age 8 to the teenage years, peers can be an even more significant influence on children than parents.

      All this is to say that parents can’t shield their children from the surrounding culture or raise them in a media-free bubble. So, conversations like these regarding Merida are important.

      As far as your analogy to dogs and dog owners–it’s pretty offensive to dehumanize kids. You might want to try to come up with something a *little* better than that.

  95. At first I thought this was much ado about nothing, till I saw the pictures before and after. Thanks. If this had happened 20 years ago I would definitely have preferred to give the original to my daughter!

      • I don’t remember the Princess line from 20 years ago. There were plenty of regular Barbies though and my wife still had Barbie clothes from when she was little. My daughter also played with her brother’s Ninja Turtles and Ghostbuster stuff. But I definitely drew the line at Bratz — weird eye makeup and body forms even more bizarre than Barbie.

  96. Thank you thank you thank you!!! Thank you for writing this article and thank you WordPress for Freshly Pressing it. I am the father of two young girls who love Merida. My wife is a red head just like Merida and thus, they associate the two very closely. My daughters will likely grow up to have red hair as well, though strangely enough, they don’t right now (I have brown). Looking at the images of the new version of Merida they’ve removed everything that made the movie Merida so lovable, admirable, and fun. I will be signing that petition and I hope Disney gets their act together soon. More so, I wish Americans would get their acts together and stop consuming all of this garbage being fed to them.

  97. Pingback: Disney faces backlash over new “sexy” Merida; pulls new image from web site as a result | smalltownjules

  98. Pingback: Disney responds to Merida petition, missing the point | Rebecca Hains

  99. She was so much nicer before all of these changes. It is bizarre that sexualization of women is present even in cartoon characters.

  100. Signed the petition.
    Merida shows to be yourself and isn’t the stereotypical princess.
    A lot of people like that.
    I like that because she’s a lot like me.
    Changing her is changing that as well.

  101. May daughter is 5 years old, she idolizes princess. She wants to speak, dress, and act like them. It was until Merida came around that she was able to look at her wild hair and realize that it is worthy of princess status. Merida has, in-fact, encouraged her to do things she wouldn’t otherwise, such as closing her eyes and stinking her head in the shower because if Merida is a princess, and is brave, so can she. It is truly sad that Disney cares little about anything else than finances. I simply won’t support any new merida merchandising. I fear it’ll do away with my five year old finally realizing that her wild little self can also be worth of princess status.

    • I’m glad Merida has been such an agent of change for your daughter. I hope the redesign doesn’t land on her radar!

  102. I didn’t see this film (haven’t watched a Disney film since I was a kid, around the Lion King I guess) but it seems like the main character is meant to be a strong female character, a bit of a turn away from the princesses who need to be rescued. That’s a good thing, but why would they go back on it?

    This is bizarre. She’s a Disney character. What’s the point in sexualizing that? It’s just creepy.

  103. I would just like to point out that when concerned with young girls looking up to Disney’s portrayal of “perfection,” Merida is not the only problem. All of the Disney princesses are unrealistically flawless and flashy. My thought is that Disney only made this change in Merida for her coronation to make her match the high caliber of “beauty” that is present in all of the other official princesses. The bar that is set for young girls today who look up to these characters is too high altogether, and the same issue present in this controversy over Merida is present in all of Disney’s other princess characters.

  104. srsly? I look at Pocahontas dolls in Disney shops, and I think: “hold no a mo,she did NOT look like that in the film” And it seems to be the same with this. I mean, why would six year old girls care how busty or curvy the characters are? All that matters is personality, no appearance. THAT’S what they should be teaching kids, not that having an unrealistic and un achievable body is cool. Because it really isn’t. (you listening, Nicki Minaj?)

  105. AS a father and someone who has hated the Disney Princess deal as long as I can remember I have happily signed the petition for this cause. Thanks for the heads up!

  106. I wouldn’t have noticed all this if not for your post being “freshly pressed” – and the difference is amazing. I went to the site to look at the line-up, and noticed that other princesses on the site have had make-overs too, notably Belle, another strong willed character who follows the beat of her own drum. In the current line up, Belle’s hair is lusher, her cheekbones more pronounced, and her shoulders quite bare. That’s not the image of Belle that one takes away from the movie. I admit to not having spent much time scrutinizing Cinderella nor Aurora, but at first glance today, it appears that their visages have also been modified from their original depictions in movies. Though I am not a graphic artist, it seems quite clear that these changes are intentional – all the girls are modified into more streamlined, mature, and stylized/glamorized images of their former selves. Not only is it totally appropriate for adults out there to care about the message this sends to our daughters (glamor, coy looks, and luxurious hair are more important than personality and integrity) , but artists and members of the entertainment industry themselves should care too, for what this process says about preservation of works of art, integrity of original works, and respect for an artists’ original vision. I wonder what these revisionists would do to the Mona Lisa, were she to be admitted into a similar hall of fame? You bet folks would be outraged if they glamed her up!

    • It’s interesting that the Power Puff Girls, despite having the world’s simplest designs, can be differentiated according to their personalities. That is, it’s obviously possible to create characters with a consistent design style, and yet make them into distinct individuals. Something I don’t think Disney is trying to do.

    • The only part of this I really disagree with is where you said the message is that glamor, coy looks, and luxurious hair are more important than personality and integrity. Just because these things are there, just because someone looks good, does not mean that’s now all that matters about them. A picture can not show personality as well as looks. As a young person myself, I think you have to be careful with statements like this. I don’t think any child or teen would take that opinion from seeing pretty girls everywhere. We are brought up knowing that our personality, intelligence, etc. is what matters. That doesn’t mean it’s not still fun to look nice, though. It’s all a matter of balancing and realizing all aspects of ourselves are important.

  107. To the point about role models, in a post I wrote about a year ago (http://wp.me/p282hY-6m) I state that if we care about our children’s sense of self, then we need to surround them with other “selves” who reflect the person we want our children to become, because our own sense of self is developed as we compare ourselves to others, and reflect on that comparison. Though it may be tempting to dismiss issues like this as “just a picture” and move on, it’s not that simple. It’s a picture that girls look at, a doll girls play with, and am image girls ruminate on as they compare themselves to the images and dolls they play with. Images and dolls can be powerful and we should care about these images, along with all the other issues we face both locally and globally.

  108. Hello, I have never had experience with play dates as I do not have kids, but I feel that you have absolutely every right to politely tell a child, who is a guest in your home, that saying mean or rude things is not acceptable behavior. I’m sure it could be rather awkward, especially if the parents get angry, but the parents must realize that when you let your child go to another person’s house and they are being possessive or rude, that the rules of that house will be enforced. I think you bring up a very valid issue with play dates and I hope parents realize how important it is to perhaps teach their children how to behave in other’s homes. Great post!

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  111. I think the original one makes her look young, fun and ready to explore the world. The new one looks like a typical princess.

  112. It was too good to be true; Disney casting an independent female protagonist, of course they had to sexualise her! When I talk to my daughters about Princesses, I will tell them exactly how hard real Princesses work and read them stories about royal women like Boudica, so they get a realistic sense of exactly what Princesses are made of- not the fluffy stuff that is so often portrayed today.

    • That’s a great idea, Hannah! I don’t remember having a lot of positive female role models when I was little (though the whole ‘princess’ craze didn’t exist then either.) I did want to be Wonder Woman for a while, but at least Linda Carter had a strong, healthy body rather than the unrealistic proportions of a Barbie. Even if she was stuck in a ludicrously skimpy costume!
      At least at school we were taught about legendary Irish women like Granuaile and Queen Maedbh, though Maedbh, who was a very powerful warrior queen, was generally portrayed as being the “bad guy” because she fought against Cuchulainn. :(

      • “ludicrously skimpy costume”? NOW, you’ve got morals? Ha, ha!

        It’s hysterical making a cat dance, chasing after a laser light pointer but eventually the human gets bored. So, bye!

  113. I loved the fact that children movies and shows are now portraying females in a more realistic light. We can get dirty and do everything a boy can do, Growing up one of my favorite stories was Cinderella, not because she married a prince, but because she got dirty, played with mice and yet she did her home duties and was educated enough to read. So what is wrong with Disney making their characters to be more realistic of today’s modern female. while I dont agree with making females sex objects they can still look pretty and wear nice clothes without being a sexual object. And more to the case shouldn’t we be more concerned with the people that look at these cartoons and see them as something sexy? Its a drawing of a child and they manage to turn that into something sexy according to those that believe this picture should of been taken off. To me all I see is a drawing of a young pretty girl in a really nice dress (not to mention I’d love to have long hair like her) that’s independent, strong, brave, kind and lovable by many young girls not because she is ‘sexy’ but because she is brave. So maybe we should stop pointing fingers at Disney and just love the characters for who they are,

  114. Pingback: Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | YWCA USA Blog

  115. When a little girl sees someone like herself, she is empowered. When she sees an unattainable ideal, she is rendered inadequate. How can you travel the world and have athletic adventures if you are worried about maintaining your hair, make up, and ballroom gown?

    Reminds me of the subtle transformation Fiona went through in the Shrek series. If you watch the first one and then the last one directly afterwards, you’ll see a pretty obvious change. Fiona has become younger, slimmed down, and her face has become stylized to look more feminine. And this from a story who’s core message was supposed to be that looks don’t matter. Hell, the tag line at the end of the movie was “Ugly Ever After.”

    So, even Disney’s competitors are at it. A swing and a miss, Dreamworks.

  116. Pingback: Disney Pulls Sexy Merida Makeover After Public Backlash - Jezebel » Chuda Chudi Blog

  117. After visiting princess.disney.com, I can see what they were trying to do with this “new, sexy Merida”. That being said, I don’t like what they did to any of the princesses. The new look they were trying to give Merida was to make her image under this category match the others. In my opinion, they should have made them look like they did in their respective movies, not modernize them. Great insight on this topic!

  118. Have to agree: I’m about done with entertainment (porn) industry reaching out to monetize children. There is no healthy basis for it. Time to start redefining speech to exclude this sort of sleazy child abuse with PR / marketing suasion.

    • Good point. In some other nations, it’s illegal to directly market / advertise to kids younger than a certain age (exact age varies by country). Disney Princess is a brand that definitely reaches past parents to very young children, even though it’s ethically wrong to do so.

  119. Pingback: Film Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey | I Just Hate Everything

  120. Pingback: Why Merida Matters: The great makeover debate | Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

  121. Hiya.

    Thanks for this; I totally agree and have signed the petition. My daughter’s 3 next week and I’m slowly waking up to how all-pervasive the princess culture is – even here in the UK. Just blogged about why decorating my daughter’s bedroom is more about politics than paint , if you’re interested!

    Thanks

    Joanne

  122. In the last two generations there has been a constant erosion of the age of innocence. Sex in all arrears of life from education to advertising has gained a prominence that has deprived the young, both girls and boys, of becoming comfortable in their own skins in those magic years that precede the turbulence experienced as teenagers. The sad thing is that this has been driven by the profit motive as demonstrated by Disney and unrestricted access to the web. Children rarely appreciate that by presenting an overtly attractive image of themselves is just as tempting to the thief of their innocence as leaving their expensive mobile phone where it can easily be stolen. The pain of lost innocence is however harder to bear than the loss of a phone.

    • Whoa there….did you just imply that children are to blame for paedophiles’ actions because of how they dress? Seriously? Paedophilia is a sickness, and someone who preys on children will do so regardless of how they’re dressed.
      The sexualising of children is dangerous because it affects their own personal development, but the minority of men who are sexually attracted to prepuescent children are a different issue.

      • No I was definately not suggesting that children are to blame. I was purely commenting that they would be unaware of the risks. I was thinking much more about parental control, which is becoming a harder task in this age where even childrens cartoon characters are portrayed in a sexually provocative way.

  123. My signature is shining proudly on that petition! I wrote a blog post on this topic too, and have read dozens of others. The way people mobilised all over the Internet has been incredible!

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  126. Pingback: Il était une fois… Mérida – De Princesse à Poupée – La magie de Disney | Les Dégenreuses

  127. The petition now has 226,000+ signatures. Let’s keep the pressure on Disney to keep Merida liking like herself but contributing to circulate the petition.

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  131. I agree. I also think the original princess is still unrealistically beautiful. Let’s have a princess with a slightly long angular nose and jaw and pleasantly plump!

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  133. Pingback: The Fight to Keep Merida Brave Is Not Over

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  139. Pingback: That’s Not Merida: The Disconnect Between the Merida we love, Disney, and Target

  140. am glad that disney was whipped as these things impact little girls so much in a negative way. there is no sanctity left in conscience etc just the physical attributes seem to matter.
    well done. well written. congratulations!!!!

  141. That is absolutely ridiculous and defeats the whole purpose of the movie to begin with. The whole charm about Merida was that she was unlike any other princess, and challenged social norms in regards to women. This was a great piece! Feel free to check out my blog, specifically my “Victorias Secret Is Not So Secret” posts, enjoy!

  142. Pingback: That's NOT Merida, Disney. When You're Off Target, Be Brave and Fix It. - Shaping Youth

  143. Pingback: Disney’s Merida Makeover: not the only way to be a princess | Still Not Shakespeare

  144. So true….The impact these princesses have on little girls is so high. Creating a princess who doesn’t fit into the stereotype of the usual Disney princess is important, it shows so much. It shows them that they don’t have to be all perfect…. you know? :) It makes them feel empowered not ugly (couldn’t find another word). Princess Merida (the original merida) could have been the new barbie and princess. She could have made the better “role model” to be honest. Merida shows little girls that they can be the hero’s too. That they can hold their ground, stand up to danger (or other things….like mean people), defend themselves and that they don’t have to depend on their looks…and prince charming. Merida teaches them to be strong, take risks and most of all (obviously) to be brave. Changing what she looks like and wears changes the message….. and not for the better.

  145. So…more girly is “sexy”? …I really wish more places would be like Duck Dynasty and tell everyone, “Deal with it!” Either way, I’d bang both versions if they were real.

  146. Pingback: Brave Girls Want: Change. That's Not Merida, Disney. Be Brave and Fix It - Shaping Youth

  147. The 2D version of Merida would look ridiculous next to the other 2D princesses if she didn’t have make-up and a sparkly dress. Just saying, nobody would buy merchandise with the glamorous and sparkling princesses that features an awkward looking (as all teens and preteens look) girl in a frumpy dress standing off to the side holding a weapon (you can’t deny that next to the ball gowns and crowns, it would be plain and kind of sad). I love Merida, don’t get me wrong. I think the lessons she teaches are important and her quirky personality totally won me over. I also know that kids aren’t going to bothered by the fact that she looks “sexier” because her hair has been smoothed out and more formal attire has been outfitted. My mom used to dress up for parties, curl her hair, and put make-up on and I never thought she looked “sexier” than usual. I just knew that it was a special event and hoped she would have fun! Why everyone is getting all freaked out over this, I have no idea.

  148. Look, I’m not saying it’s right that the character has been “sexualized,” although I use that term very loosely in this context. However, this whole bit about children screaming and destroying t-shirts because “princesses don’t cover their shoulders” sounds like a bunch of garbage. I work with a four year old, and not once has she done something that over-dramatic. At the end of the day, Barbie and the Disney Princesses are characters! They’re not here to raise your children! They are for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. Parents, do your job, stop handing your kids electronics as baby-sitters, close your Facebook tab, get off your laptops (and your high-horses), and do your jobs! You want your kids to have positive body-images? Stop bashing your body in front of them, and for the love of Pete, show them what real women look like (I challenge you to do it without body-shaming someone thin). Rant over. Also, please notice this is not a personal attack on anyone, so don’t freak.

    • Okay, I’ve had enough of this foolishness. Merida needs to end. Making a change from screen to merchandising should not be an issue. People are being killed AND ROB AS I TYPE,- ESP. IN THE BIG EASY, AKA CHOCOLATE CITY- NOT! CINDERLLA NOW HAS WISPS OF HAIR HANGING FROM HER FACE, I DON’T LIKE IT BUT THE STUDIO IS TRYING TO KEEP THE ClassicS up-to-date. What can I say. oh this ! ENOUGH OF THE MERIDA STUPIDY! GO READ A BOOK OR GO DONATE $ 5 BUCKS TO A CHARITY. ED HELD STUDIO NEWS Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2013 14:40:46 +0000 To: edhelda9@msn.com

    • Interesting Merida outcome, Now look at all the merchandising today for Snow White. Cinderella and Princess Aurora! Simple designs made them classics, Now the toy packages have them all dolled-up like Diamond Divas with an over abundance of crowns, necklaces, jewels and more unnecessary detailing that’s turning these sweet and lovable characters looking like their are in Mardi Gras drag!. Whatever happened to K.I.S.S.? Keep it simple stupid! And what Disney Princess wouldn’t want “sex appeal” to find their Prince Phillip anyway? Walt must be steaming in Heaven Land!

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  151. Pingback: Role Models Reimagined as Disney Princesses: A Q&A with Artist David Trumble | Rebecca Hains

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    • If a real person can change their persona, then I sure the Animated Princess has the right to do so. Re-inventing one’s self is NOTHING new in the world. Leave Merida alone, The world has too many other problems (Democrats for one) that need focus. Have a Magical Day and stop this trifling debate. World: show your Best Disney side- not yiur worst, life’s too short..

  155. Pingback: What’s the problem with pink and princess? The marketing. | Rebecca Hains

  156. Pingback: » La Femme Critique: Marketing Merida

  157. you have my permission – thank you for requesting my opinions. I’ve been a Disney fan and stockholder for so long, it really doesn’t matter what the new studio people do. I can’t change their changes, unfortunately some ideas are very bad then their is magic like Frozen. I still think the 2-d hand drawn characters can still be animated digitally in CGI like the successful short , I believe was titled Paper. it won for Best short. And the staggering prices for merchandise and Theme park increases makes you wonder if only Millionaire kids go to disney parks. they don’t provide any comforts for seniors like me, just turned 70, and at the D 23 Expo, as a Press representative for sho buz, I struggle with crowds and fell like it’s more of a chore than a treat. I did suggest to D 23 – Mariam.Sughayer@Disney.com, you may need that info too. Best,
    Ed Held sho buz

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