Disney has been accused of forcing young girls to accept a ‘narrow definition of beauty’ after it changed the appearance of Merida, the heroine of the animated movie “Brave.”
Disney released new images of the character in advance of her induction, on Saturday, as their 11th official ‘Princess”.
The movie studio has narrowed her waist, taken some of the wildness out of her flowing copper locks, made her eyes wider, her cheekbones higher – and, critically, has removed her trademark bow and arrow.
Now the female empowerment website A Mighty Girl has launched an online petition, so far signed by more than 28,500 people, to change the character’s appearance back to the original.
The petition says: “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.”
It says Brenda Chapman, writer and co-director of “Brave” wanted Merida to be a role model that young girls could happily follow without teir mothers ‘pulling their hair out.’
It continues: “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.”
Merida will join the other Disney Princesses, Snow White, Mulan, Aurora, Belle, Tiana, Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel in the line, all of whom are likely to make an appearance at the coronation. New hairstyles, makeup, and dresses were recently given to the princesses in a modern update to their looks.
Disney told the website insidethemagic.net that the new image was among a range of images used for all Disney princesses to fit a number of merchandising opportunities.