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The battle to keep Merida brave

Disney’s makeover of the beloved Scottish princess has sparked a public protest. Despite conflicting reports, the battle over Merida isn’t over.

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Photo: Change.org

The past week has been a wild ride for Merida, the main character of Brave. Last Saturday, the animated, teenaged archer officially joined the 10 other Disney Princesses. But not before Disney gave her a makeover.

Her unruly red locks are tamed, she has lost weight, her eyes peer at us coyly, her body suddenly developed Marilyn Monroe-esque curves, she’s missing her bow and her dress no longer covers her shoulders. This new look did not go over well with the public with many feeling she went from confident, strong and realistic to seductive, mature and sexy.

Change.org and A Mighty Girl quickly started a petition, asking Disney to keep Merida brave and undo the character’s redesign. The writer and co-director of the movie, Brenda Chapman, quickly joined the protest. On the petition site, she’s quoted as saying:

“Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn’t be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they’d be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’”

In less than a week, more than 200,000 people have signed the petition.

How has Disney responded? In the company’s official response, it says the new look was only intended for a limited line of products, “never as a permanent ‘makeover’ for the character.” And the original Merida remains on Disney’s website.

Not convinced that the sexier Merida will disappear, the petition remains onlineIn an interview with A Mighty Girl, Chapman says:

“…to have so much support, so many voices supporting that desire to put this type of character out there has just been overwhelmingly vindicating. It gives me optimism that we can make a change and eventually change the message that’s going out there for our girls… and our boys. I keep saying little girls, but it’s for little boys too because they’ll learn a respect and a different view of women if we can keep pushing to make things better for everyone.”