May 8, 2013 by Julia
This is absurd. Here is the text of a petition to Disney to prevent a “redesign” of Merida, the heroine from Brave:
Merida was the princess that countless girls and their parents were waiting for — a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess ready to set off on her next adventure with her bow at the ready. She was a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the ‘imperfections’ that all people have.
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.
In an interview with Pixar Portal, “Brave” writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, “Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn’t be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they’d be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’”
This new Merida is a paler reflection of her former self without the spark and the ‘you go girl’ quality that her creator intended.
We write to you on behalf of all the young girls who embraced Merida as a role model, who learned from her that they too could go off on an adventure and save the day; that it’s not how you look that matters but who you are. For them and for all the children — both girls and boys — who benefit from seeing depictions of strong, courageous, and independent-minded girls and women that are so scarce in animated movies, we ask you to return to the original Merida that we all know and love. We ask you to keep Merida Brave!
In case you’re wondering, this is the actual doll that was produced from the “redesign.” As you can see, the doll is not some sexy seductress. Indeed, here is a Merida with a bow and arrow and a different dress. Being a collector of dolls meant for young girls (I just put my Fuu, Sakura [that is the costume I have, but I can’t find the doll anywhere–it’s the original Bandai-release fashion doll], and Mulan dolls in our new curio last week), I feel justified in pronouncing that these angry feminists are nuts. Their response to the new artwork (not the doll) makes no sense. It’s not like Merida was fat or had a noticeable deformity or something before; rather, I look at that art and see . . . a different artist’s 2D interpretation of an earlier artist’s 3D art. It’s not sinister misogyny, it’s two different art styles. Geez, calm down, angry feminists. Plus, if they don’t like the doll based on the new art, they can just buy last year’s doll, problem solved. It’s not like a “redesign” changes the content of the movie, or dolls already in existence that you can go out and buy because capitalism.
Incidentally, I was going to be like, my Mulan doll doesn’t have a sword and I’m not bitching about it, but then when I was looking for the specific doll I have, I found this Mulan doll! I think I might need it–that doll is just plain awesome. But, I’m not going to discard my fashion Mulan. She’s pretty, and I fail to see how presenting beauty and poise to my daughter is somehow a bad thing. I suspect my daughter will, much like me, appreciate women who are pretty and women who kick ass.
In closing, I’m not even invested in this issue; I just watched Brave last week for the first time, and was not particularly impressed. In fact, it was kind of slow and boring. It was nowhere near as good as Tangled (which I loved). My main problem is with over-reacting feminists . . . they kind of make us all look bad.