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Recently Disney chose to officially add Brave's Merida to their lineup of Disney Princesses. But before her coronation, the studio decided she needed a makeover. Ironic, considering her whole movie was about rebelling against typical princess stereotypes. The resulting revamp made her glitzier, with a slimmer waist, more pronounced bust, fuller lips, sultry eyes and flowing luscious locks instead of her trademark wild curls. And when this sexy new Merida appeared on the Disney Princess website, fans of Brave promptly cried foul. Online outrage most productively took the form of a petition signed by nearly 200,000 people that demanded Disney repeal the revamp.
In the wake of this resounding outcry, Jezebel reports the new Merida has since been pulled from Disney's site, replaced by the Merida we've grown to know and love. (As seen below.) It's unknown how the public protest will ultimately impact further Merida merchandizing, but it's at least heartening to see the House of Mouse is listening to parents and fans furious over the message they send by overtly sexualizing a character specifically made to empower young girls.
Brave of course was Pixar's response to criticism over a growing filmography of incredible animated efforts that disappointingly offered no female protagonists. Pixar's team crafted a young princess who refused to be defined by her nobility. Disney's sticking Merida into a dress that more closely resembled the one she resolutely busted out of, just made this makeover all the more appalling. But even if Disney backs off on this front, the discussion about the representations of heroines that they sell to little girls is far from over. The Merida debacle has drawn attention to Disney's other princess makeovers. (Why do they all need "come hither" stares?) You can see some side by sides at Jezebel.
But it's not all bad news. Disney's princess site also includes this video, which urges girls to follow their hearts, ignore all the "that's not for girls" talk, and define princess however they choose.