There has been a lot of outrage over the Disney Princess makeovers lately. Haven’t noticed the difference? Take a look.
I know, that’s not all of them. With Merida being inducted on May 11th, she officially becomes the 11th Disney princess along with Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, and Rapunzel. It’s been a hot topic of debate for months about these princesses getting a makeover, and if you haven’t heard my opinion on that matter then too bad, that’s not what I want to focus on.
The newest and biggest cause of debate comes down to Merida. Many people are outraged that Merida, a symbol of independence and non-conformist ideals, has now been made to look like every other princess. Her hair is tamer, her waist is a wee bit slimmer, and her eyes are a different shape. People are so upset about this that they’ve actually started a petition against Bob Iger and the entire Disney company (as if that’d do any good…). On the petition website, this is what they had to say, “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.”
Alright, I think we need to back up a few steps here. First of all, I think people are completely missing the point. All of these people want Merida to be a Disney Princess, don’t they? Because if she wasn’t—If Merida was left out of the lineup—those same people would be screaming ‘discrimination’. They would be arguing that it’s wrong for her not to be considered a princess just because she doesn’t have a prince. They would be saying that Merida deserves just as much—if not more so—to be a Disney Princess.
Okay, cool. Merida deserves to be a Disney Princess. There’s just one tiny, itsy bitsy little problem . . . Merida isn’t animated. She wasn’t drawn. She’s a computer generated image. Each one of her curls was hand constructed to look real. But animations don’t look real. If you teach your kids that animations are real, then I think we need to reevaluate who is the source of the image problem.
In order to stick Merida in a lineup with the other ten Disney princesses, she needs to be drawn as an animated character. That means a couple of things:
1) Each of her curls can’t be hand constructed. Sorry, her hair is going to look slightly tamer because, uh, that’s how animation works. I would say the new drawing does a great service to her hair, because by animation standards it still looks pretty wild. Compare her to Esmerelda. Did anyone think that Esmerelda had tame hair? No? Well Merida’s hair was done the same way. Moving on…
2) Her dress gets to have more glitter. Why? Because all the other princesses get glitter. And before you start saying, “But they weren’t always glittery!” you should go back and rewatch Cinderella. Can you find a scene where her dress doesn’t glitter? It’s called getting dressed up. People still do that. When a fancy occasion rolls around, do you say, “Oh no, I’m not going to conform. I’m going to wear jeans to the ball.” No, that’s stupid. You put on your best dress. Even Merida wears and actual shimmery dress in the movie, not once, but twice. Her blue dress shimmers, and….wait for it…the last green dress she wears has shimmering gold on it! Get over it. Her dress glitters.
3) Her eyes now look like they belong on a cartoon. Surprise! They’re on a cartoon face.
4) Her new cartoon self doesn’t change her story. As a friend pointed out, it’s not like they invented a husband for her! She is still a symbol of independence. She still gives girls hope that you don’t need a man to define your life, and that family is incredibly important.
And guess what else? They did the same thing to Rapunzel a few years ago! I didn’t hear anyone complaining then. But she is also a CGI character in the film, so they needed to make her into a cartoon in order to stick her in the princess lineup.
I know people will go on complaining about every little change. People don’t generally like change. But stop to consider that maybe it isn’t always a bad thing. It’s not like they redrew her entire movie, and gave her a prince, and turned her into some sort of weak and defenseless damsel-in-distress. No, she’s still Merida. She always will be. She will continue to defy stereotypes and let her hair flow in the wind, firing arrows into the sunset.
But she does deserve to wear a fancy dress once in a while, doesn’t she? Now excuse me while I go stalk every Disney blog site waiting for videos of Merida’s coronation because I’m extremely disappointed that Disney couldn’t wait another month to perform her coronation like they had originally planned . . .
Although I imagine this is exactly what would go through Merida’s head while she’s getting primped for the ceremony.