Almost all young girls know of a Disney Princess: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and the list goes on and on. We are up to now eleven princess. In fact, the eleventh princess, Merida from the movie ‘Brave’, was just recently added to the list. However, Disney doesn’t let just anyone on this prestigious list of princesses. First, Merida had to go through some major changes. These changes include liposuction, major plastic surgery, and some very intense hair treatments. As a result her waist and face are slimmer, her eyes are larger, and her hair consists of perfect red curls that most of us would have to spend hours to achieve.
As a result, many parents are very upset. The message that Disney Princesses send to young girls, to be pretty and find a prince charming, is one that many parents now resent. Merida is a character who has turned this around. She has a realistic body size, she doesn’t chase after boys, and she lives her life independently. One parent even commented on this movie being “the first feminist princess movie.” She is an independent woman who does not rely on a man to save her and does not play the role of “damsel in distress.” She fixes her own problems, is unique, and, of course, is brave. However, this new step that Merida has taken has been undone again as Disney feels the need to give her a new image. The concern now is that the message she is reinforcing isn’t to be brave, but to be pretty. Therefore, in response to this “makeover” by Disney, parents have begun a petition on Change.org. Thus far, there are 19,000 signatures. Obviously, there are a lot of fans of the original Merida.
My biggest concern is how young girls will be affected by this sudden change. Will they see her transformation as an improvement? And if so, how will that affect their own body images? We wonder why the average dieting age is progressively getting lower, yet it’s clear that they are being exposed to the image of an “ideal woman” at an increasingly young age. When comparing the original Merida to the new version the changes are obvious, and changes that children will also take note of. It is my hope that the petition will continue to collect signatures and the original Merida will be allowed into the high-end club of Disney Princesses just as she is.