Brave‘s Merida was a departure from the typical Disney princess model. Independent and unpolished, Merida’s interests ranged from sewing to archery but excluded one important thing that had captivated the energies of Disney’s previous princesses: finding their prince. Now, Disney has given Pixar’s Merida a makeover and fans aren’t impressed.
Brave won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA for best animated feature and fans praised the movie not only for it’s female-empowering plot, but for Merida’s appearance, too. The Scottish Pixar princess had unruly red hair and the overall air of a tomboy. She still wore a dress, but she railed against ones that she felt were too prissy and constricting (and she wasn’t afraid to split them at their seams if forced to wear them). But the new, improved (read: more marketable) Merida—the one Disney officially coronated as their 11th princess this past weekend—has some marked differences in her appearance (though the studio swears that she’s still the same spunky Merida on the inside).
What you immediately notice about the redesigned princess is her hair. It seems that Merida has finally found the miracle product to tame her red curls (perhaps the same witch that helped her turn her mother into a bear concocted something for her). Also notable is the fact that the princess is wearing the loathed gown she destroyed in the archery contest in Brave. The dress, with its lower neckline and glittering accents, is adorned with a belt that’s more about accenting her curvy new hips and whittled-down waist rather than holding her quiver of arrows. Speaking of arrows, where’s her bow?
While Disney is happy with Merida’s glamorous new look, some fans of the independent princess are less enthusiastic. Her makeover inspired one blogger to start a Change.org petition to collect signatures from people who loved the old Merida—and with good reason. “She had a uniqueness that people really loved, so when they took that away, it was a real affront to a lot of people,” said Carolyn Danckaert, the blogger who started the petition. “Merida was the princess that countless girls and their parents were waiting for—a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess.”
Disney insists that strong, confident girl is still there (under the eyeliner and lipstick she seems to be wearing now). “Merida exemplifies what it means to be a Disney Princess through being brave, passionate, and confident and she remains the same strong and determined Merida from the movie whose inner qualities have inspired moms and daughters around the world.” However, over 110,000 people who’ve signed the online petition disagree.