For the past week, one teen girl has been getting a lot of attention: Merida.The princess from Disney’s Brave was given a dramatic makeover for her “coronation”—going from archery to arched eyebrows—which saw fans of the film take up arms. They started online petitions, writing op-eds, and blogging away. Disney finally took note when Brave’s co-director Brenda Chapman called the new look “atrocious.” The studio is now saying the makeover will not be permanent.
In a statement to NBCNews.com, a Disney spokesperson said: “We routinely use different art styles with our characters and this rendition of Merida in her party dress was a special one-time effort to commemorate her coronation.” Basically, Disney is saying the tomboy princess was just getting dressed up for prom. The problem with that reasoning is most people don’t get a whole new face for a fancy event (as you can see Merida did in these before and after images.) The makeover sends the message to young girls that in order to be considered a “princess” (read: beautiful) you have to be slender, don a pretty dress, and forget about things like bows and arrows. Plus, the new look isn’t fully going away. While Merida’s original image, with her fiery curly hair and less curvaceous figure, will remain the official look of Brave, the coronation artwork will be “used in a limited product line this summer and fall.”
That Disney is making moves to distance themselves from the new look is a step in the right direction. Still, a Change.org petition against the makeover addressed to Disney chairperson Robert Iger currently holds 200,000 signatures. It doesn’t seem likely fans of the original Merida will be happy when the new look hits shelves in a few weeks, so there won’t be a happily-ever-after ending just yet.