Disney Merida 'Brave' Makeover Defended By Executives As "Gussied Up"

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Catherine Connors, blogger and editor in chief of Disney Interactive Family, defended the Disney Merida makeover:

“First, because the original Merida hasn’t, actually, been made over: there are a few pieces of iterative artwork out there that were created for the purpose of celebrating her coronation, but these are fancified depictions of Merida, not a new Merida (who in any case is defined by far more important things than what she wears.) … That image doesn’t represent a ‘new’ Merida replacing an ‘old’ Merida: it’s just another iteration of Merida, who is much, much more than just red curls and a green dress. The gussied up Merida on the coronation invitation is Merida gussied up for one of the most important events of her princess career. That she’s a little more sparkly for the party is not a heresy against her independent and spirited self – I consider myself independent and spirited, and I wore the sparkliest gown that I could find when I got married, because of course I did.”

(x)

I agree with Disney on this one.  I’m a huge advocate for women’s rights, being yourself, & being strong and independent, but I think people blew this simple drawing out of proportion.  I didn’t see a huge difference in the two.  The hair…less messy, the face…added makeup, the dress…sparkly.  It truly looks like Merida dressed up for a fancy event. Even the Disney executives said that they were not “changing” Merida’s character at all. Just dressing her up for her debut as a Disney Princess.  And what event is more special for a princess than her official coronation? Putting Merida in a pretty dress doesn’t make her character any less strong, fierce, independent, or smart.

Think of it this way, any girl no matter how “feminist” they are, has some event in their life where they want to dress up.  They want to feel special, and at their best. Whether that be at prom, a fancy dance, or their wedding.  

As for the slightly, thinner-looking waist and more visual cleavage, it’s hardly noticeable.  I had to really look closely, and that was only after I was told.  Also, it’s not like Disney was being rude and insensitive like Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO, who specifically stated his clothes were for “skinny, cool people.” Disney just made some simple drawings.

If you think about it, it was only a bunch of frenzied parents who were up in arms over the “new” princess.  I didn’t see little girls everywhere taking to the streets rioting, or traveling to Florida with protest signs.  

Honestly, sometimes I think parents make too big a deal out of things, which just ends up upsetting/unsettling their kids. For example, if you tell a child, “Now the movie we are going to watch, has a monster in it that is going to be a little scary, you may not like it.” Chances are you’re going to psyche them out, and they’ll start crying or hate it.  

But if you say, “Oh, isn’t the Abominable Snowman so silly?!” 9 times out of 10, your child will see that mommy is laughing and smiling, and think, “I should like this. I should laugh and smile too.”

It’s all how you present things to kids.

Say your daughter loves Merida, but you are personally angered over Disney “changing her,” and no longer like the image being portrayed to your daughter.  You are taking a perfectly good, fun thing, and wrecking it. 

“Oh, now Mom doesn’t like her. I guess, I can’t.”

What are you going to do? Stop your daughter from running up to Merida and all the other princesses at Disneyworld, just because you think she’s a bad role model now? And if you don’t like this version of Merida, then you might as well not go see any of the princesses while in Disneyworld, because they are all gorgeous in person and cartoon. (By the way, many of the princesses while pretty are also rebellious, strong, hard-working and clever…they just happen to find true love in the end. And really, who doesn’t want to find the love of their life?)

It seems silly to ruin Disney magic and fun…over a makeover?

And why? Because Merida maybe looks a little thinner and prettier? Hating on someone because they look pretty or skinny makes you just as bad as those who bully someone for not looking pretty or being fat.  

I think it’s rather frustrating when, because I’m naturally skinny and small, friends of mine will say, “You’ve got it easy, you can wear anything.”  …Which isn’t true.  I’m so short, that I have to tape and hem all my pants. Most of the time clothing stores sell out of small sizes quickly, don’t sell certain styles or colors in the right size, or I have to pay for more expensive designer clothes that are made smaller.  On top of that, I have hardly any boobs so dresses and tops don’t always look right. But, I’ve accepted myself. I make it work. I love the way I look.

We women should empower one another, not put each other down…no matter what size or what one looks like.

Skinny, short, tall, fat, makeup, no makeup.  

Many are saying the new drawing is too skinny and presents a bad image. So, let’s think for a second. If we want to be “equal,” should we then have an overweight princess? But, then people would argue that the new princess creates an unhealthy role model for kids when obesity is already a prevalent problem in the USA. Where do you draw the line? And who is to decide what is a normal size? 

Who is to decide what makes a girl feel good about herself?  If you like to curl your hair, or wearing a pretty dress makes you feel confident, what’s so wrong with that? Fashion is a form of art and self expression which inspires creativity and independence. 

Also, are you saying that because a girl wants or likes to dress up and look pretty, that she can’t also be smart, confident, strong, or “brave,” pun intended.

I’m in a sorority, Chi Omega. We all love girly things, such as crafting, shopping, clothes, and shoes.  We dress up in nice “pin attire” for our Tuesday night meetings.  

But, if you meet or talk to any one of us for 5 minutes you would realize we are not the stereotypical sorority.  We have fun, but we aren’t crazy partiers.  Ask anyone on campus, and our common descriptor word is classy.  We pride ourselves on scholarship, charity fundraising, volunteer work, and having a really close sisterhood.  

Every one of my sisters is gorgeous, inside and out.

What’s wrong with being both?

It’s a proven fact that if you look better on the outside, feel pretty and feel healthy, that you will feel more confident on the inside.  And, therefore, kill that business pitch, ace that test, flirt with that guy you like…etc.

I think we should teach girls to be happy with themselves and their abilities, and not worry about any outside influences or what society thinks. 

And if a cartoon is going to harm little girls of America, then this country needs a makeover.

A makeover in self-esteem.  

There are, unfortunately, always going to be bullies in life who call you ugly, dorky, nerdy, fat, or goody-two-shoes…etc. (Trust me, as former girl who was bullied, I know what I’m talking about…Don’t worry it gets better once you go to college.)  But, it’s how you deal with the bullying.  

Girls need to be taught to not let anything or anyone shake their confidence. To let it roll off their back. There is nothing more satisfying than killing a bully with kindness or showing them that their words can’t affect you.  

Bullies feed off of the power they feel over others.  By letting it affect you, they then have the power and upper hand.  But, by ignoring them, smiling, and thinking, “Whatever, I like me,” they won’t know what to do.  They’ll stop…move on. You win.

Tell yourself, other girls, daughters, cousins and nieces…that when times seem rough, always remember the immortal words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”