Disney Drops "Sexy-Merida," But You Should Still Be Mad
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.
Are the Disney Princesses Feminists?
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.