Disney Drops "Sexy-Merida," But You Should Still Be Mad

Categories: Film and TV

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Earlier this week public pressure managed to convince Disney to drop its make-over of Merida from the Pixar release Brave as she was being prepared for induction into the official 11 princesses in the Disney universe. Her princess model featured a more slender waist, slightly larger bust, make-up, tamer hair, and no appearance of her trademark weaponry. This led to calls of objectification and overly prissing up the girl we can all agree is the most assertive and badass of the royal female heroines in Disney.

Personally, it didn't bother me. Yes, I know, I'm a guy and I don't understand. I am, however, a father to a three-year-old daughter who loves Merida (Even if she sometimes confuses her with Amy Pond from Doctor Who) and the son of a woman who taught him to ride horses, rope cattle, shoot, drink, swear, and punch in the head those who so desperately need punching in the head. I consider myself more of a male tomboy than anything else.

I recognized the make-over for what it was... a unified marketing strategy meant to make all the princesses look like part of the same universe. Merida didn't just change for her inclusion in this weird, decorative stable that Disney created, every single princess did. All of them, from Snow White to Rapunzel. Click that Jezebel link up above, and you can see a side-by-side comparison of all the girls, everything from boob jobs to making Tiana slightly less black.

Flashback
Are the Disney Princesses Feminists?

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Merida, as a Pixar creation, looks not only different from all the other now-homogenized princesses, she looks almost deformed because her animated avatar isn't meant to be a very realistic representation of human form. It's sort of like if Nani from Lilo and Stitch was made a princess. They would have to straighten her curves because that movie's specifically rounded style of animation would cause her unaltered original drawing to look overweight and dumpy next to the redraws of the others.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves came out more than 80 years ago. The definition of contemporary, fashionable beauty has change dramatically over the course of Disney's career, and every single princess is the product of what the animators thought would appeal at the time. Throw in different artistic interpretations and you have a mess when you're trying to sell the Disney Princesses as some sort of actual equal collective.

No, I was never mad that when Disney announced Merida would be joining the Disney Princess brand that they also made her look, well, like the other Disney Princesses. That was utterly to be expected.

I was mad that they did it in the first place.


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11 comments
CoreyJJohnson
CoreyJJohnson

After considering your post. I don't think that the other Disney princesses are as one-dimensional as your memory recalls. 


Two examples are Belle and Mulan both were more driven for their commitment to their fathers. If the idea a princess or woman motivated to help her father bothers you then you could say families.


I will not take the time to consider the other princesses, but it seems to me that a woman on a mission that meets a man would likely develop a crush and vice versa. Is that probability something that should be ignored by all Disney characters for the sake of 'diversity'?


On the other hand, articles have to sell and this rant was engaging.


On an unrelated note...

As a grown man, I am more comfortable having a crush on Merida in her updated and "less childlike" appearance, thereby feeling less like a pervert.

Dana Coleman
Dana Coleman

Is there anything people won't complain about? Who gives a shit? If you don't like it, don't buy it. Articles like this are why I never bother reading HP.

Joe Pinney
Joe Pinney

I should be mad, huh? Gee, I like it when people tell me what I should feel. I usually reciprocate.

bowhunter53
bowhunter53

I consider myself more of a male tomboy than anything else.

HathrynKallberg
HathrynKallberg

" ...each one of them is an endless parade of the firstiest of first world problems mixed with a healthy dose of 'Stay pretty and you'll be allowed to take it easy forever' thrown in." You are such a fabulous and funny writer. I love reading your articles!

Apapa
Apapa

I think you make some excellent points about how the Disney Princesses are problematic in general, and including characters like Merida are especially so. (Honestly, I never thought about how none of the "princesses" were ever going to actually rule in their own right.) I agree with 99% of what you wrote, but a few things really took away from your point. Pointing out that Nani from Lilo & Stitch would not look the same as the "princesses" and would have to be altered is a valid point. But you still reinforced the idea that the "princesses" were the ideal and how in comparison Nani is "overweight" and "dumpy". Nani is realistic, the "princesses" are not. I get your point, but it's lost among the fat shaming. It would have been a good opportunity for you to discuss how the "princesses" contribute to negative body image.

The other thing is that you have a lot of male privilege you don't seem to be aware of. There's no such thing as a "male tomboy". Whether you meant the term as a joke or not, it is kind of offensive. It's wonderful that your mother was the one to teach you a wide range of what are considered more masculine activities. But your mother is the one who deserves the accolades for breaking the mold. You're a guy who acts like a guy; there's no special term for that.

pete.vonderhaar
pete.vonderhaar

@Apapa Jef's not "reinforcing" any ideal. He specifically says it's the drawing style used in Lilo & Stitch that would cause Nani to look -- comparatively -- overweight. And he's right, because the redraws are fucking ridiculous. Similarly, to accuse him of "fat shaming" is fucking ridiculous.

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