Disney Nixes the Spunk and Adds Sparkles: Brave’s Merida Receives a Drastic Makeover

Fans of Disney and Pixar’s 2012 computer-animated film Brave are outraged over its heroine’s recent drastic makeover.

Brave's Merida is gutsy, gritty, and unkempt--and she's a realistic and healthy role model for girls.

Brave’s Merida is gutsy, gritty, and unkempt–and she’s a realistic and healthy role model for girls.
Image: Disney/Pixar

When the much-loved family comedy first came out, it achieved critical acclaim and enormous popularity amongst fans of all ages. Viewers were thrilled to watch the adventures of female protagonist, Merida, as she used her archery skills and intelligence to protect her kingdom and family. Finally, fans of Disney’s charmingly amusing family movies could delight in a true role model for young girls: a gritty princess with guts, autonomy, and realistic, healthy proportions.

When Disney’s decision to sexualize Merida before adding her to the other greatly altered female characters in its “Princess Collection” online, fans were left in disbelief and anger.

Merida was already a beloved female role model for young fans, before her makeover. Covering her in sparkles, cinching her waist, and generally sexing up her entire appearance detracts from the power she exuded as a fierce and independent character.

Disney gave Merida a "makeover" that she didn't need, unnecessarily sexualizing the character.

Disney gave Merida a “makeover” that she didn’t need, unnecessarily sexualizing the character.
Image: Disney/Pixar

Brenda Chapman, the film’s writer and co-director agrees, publicly criticizing Disney’s decision to create a sexier Merida in an email to the Marin Independent Journal. Chapman writes,

“When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version…Merida was created to break that mold – to give young girls a better, stronger role model…something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

Chapman acknowledges that the sexualization of female characters within the Disney Empire is a blatant marketing tool, and a dangerous one. It’s an issue that many social critics and frustrated parents alike are thinking: young girls don’t need another “role model” whose only skill is being pretty.

Disney discreetly removed the made-over Princess Merida images from it’s online Princess Collection on Wednesday, where other beloved Princesses such as Cinderella and Tiana still exist as sexed-up, sparkling versions of their former selves.

Fans of Brave must continue to hold Disney accountable for its decisions to alter images of female characters that act as role models for many young girls.

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