Disney Princess Merida makeover: A 7-year-old’s verdict on the 'Brave' heroine
The Disney Princess makeover of the ‘Brave’ character Merida, causes one chubby little red-head looking at all the curves and makeup to ask: “Is that the Evil Merida?”
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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Disney corporate answered with a resounding “No!” when it stuck to gender-typed tradition and converted the disheveled, feisty, normally-proportioned, self-reliant archer to a slimmer, glitzy, doe-eyed version, sparking a petition by outraged fans.
Worse, it disappointed a chunky little red-haired girl I babysit for because it put her princess dream back out of reach.
Merida was crowned as Disney’s 11th official princess last Thursday at Disney World. Sadly, it wasn’t the sassy Scottish lassie who won her own freedom with archery and willpower who took the stage at the coronation. Instead Disney marketing missed the target again where the good of little girls is concerned and sexed-up the character with more cleavage and a vapid look.
“Yuck!” squeaked Laurel when her baby blue eyes saw the side-by-side before and after versions of Merida on my computer this morning. Laurel, who is 7 and has wavy bright red hair, likes to hover at my right shoulder like a ditzy little angel in the mornings because I blogged about her and she’s always on the lookout to see her own face on my screen.
“Yuck?” I responded. “Which one’s the one you like?”
A chunky little finger went to the old Merida. So I asked her why, and she responded with what, for Laurel, is a super cohesive answer: “The one in dark blue is smiling and her hair’s prettier 'cause it’s more like mine and 'cause the new one’s scary-pretty with all that blowy hair and cat-eyes. The new one looks mean and I don’t know her.”
Then she made my day and my blog by pointing back to the make-over Merida and asking, “Is that the Evil Merida?”
It took Herculean restraint not to say, “Yes! Behold the demon Disney spawn that is a slimmer, girlier, and more stereotypical version wrought in the cauldron of marketing’s poisonous spell.”
Instead I simply explained that Disney had given her a make-over. To which Laurel simply replied, “Oh. That’s too bad.”
For those, like me, who agree with Laurel’s assessment of the Disney-engineered damage to how girls view themselves and their future roles as women there is a petition “Disney: Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave!” It's online at Change.org
The petition, created by the webmasters at A Mighty Girl reads in part: “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.”