See All Topics

Home / Section: Animation

Disney sexualized Merida character

Pixar’s Merida character from the feature film Brave is officially a Disney Princess, but that created a controversy when Disney debuted a 2D image of the new princess. The Disney princess makeover removed the bow and arrow, tamed her hair and slimmed her figure. She also sports a “come hither” look according to Brenda Chapman, who wrote and co-directed the film and won an Oscar for her work.

From the Marin Independent Journal:

“I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida,”

Chapman fumed. “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. It’s horrible! Merida was created to break that mold ? to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

There is an online petition protesting Disney’s decision to sexualize the character.

Merida was the princess that countless girls and their parents were waiting for — a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess ready to set off on her next adventure with her bow at the ready. She was a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the ?imperfections? that all people have.

The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.

Community Comments

#1 Jim Lavery
May/14/2013
@ 8:11 pm

hot

#2 Welt Snyder
May/14/2013
@ 9:26 pm

Oh give me a break. They just made her a little older is all.I’m sure that on the other side of the coin were some equally well-meaning types who said, “Ooh, we can’t give her a WEAPON and sell her as a child’s toy.” While if I were in charge, I would have gone to Chapman in the first place to ask her team to create a presentation of Merida for her induction into the Princess Club, surely Chapman has to know she’s dealing with Disney, right? And isn’t this what you would expect from the company that is first and foremost a MARKETING company?

#3 Dave Stephens
May/15/2013
@ 2:49 am

A marketing company that turns a square into a circle is a marketing company that has FAILED.

It happens.

Merida = tomboy. The redesign removed that aspect, made her curvier and changed her dress to show bare shoulders and also made her very plain dress shiny and frilly. And they also removed her weak chin and utterly changed her expression to a vapid grin.

They have since admitted their failure and removed the idiotic redesign.

I expect better from a MARKETING company and it turns out, so does Disney…

#4 Mike Cope
May/15/2013
@ 4:28 am

This is like Peppermint Patty ditching her sandals in favour of high heels. Nothing brave about a girl who gives into fears of body image.

#5 Jim Lavery
May/15/2013
@ 10:04 am

I know nothing of the movie or the character but I’m guessing that originally she’s not a princess at all? I think that far from come hithering her they merely princessed her–taking a popular heroine and squeezing her into a popular princess brand. Like forcing a Pixar square peg into a Disney round hole.

#6 Gerry Mooney
May/15/2013
@ 12:06 pm

The redesign is a shame and a real loss, but all that aside, hiding a characters hands is THE HEIGHT OF LAZINESS!!

#7 Rick Hudson
May/15/2013
@ 3:07 pm

Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill. What nonsense. People need to get a life.

#8 Marie Rouppet
May/15/2013
@ 5:36 pm

Jim Lavery, Merida actually is a princess. As far as I know, the only Disney princess who isn’t actually a princess is Mulan.

#9 Rick Hudson
May/18/2013
@ 10:35 pm

The new version of Merida was intended for a promotion this Summer, primarily at the theme parks. Disney has done this with all of their characters at one point or another. They certainly have every right to do so. Did they change the movie or its message? Lordy, the overreaction by the PC police has been beyond reason. It’s like these people have nothing else to do in life but throw a hissy fit over an animated character. People really need to get a life. There’s so much more that deserves people’s attention and energy. Sad.

#10 Eddie Pittman
May/23/2013
@ 11:54 am

I love how these things get blown out of proportion and then we ALL run protesting the news with righteous indignation. I am so guilty of this myself. It’s cases like this, where I know the artist and the story, that make me cautious of everything I read on the internet.

This illustration was made before the movie premiered, with very little reference to go on (evidently, Pixar wasn’t sharing very much even with Disney publishing). I was created by two artists, a penciler and a painter. My friend, a very talented woman with a long career that includes many Disney features, drew the original sketch and, having seen it, I have to say it’s dead on. It is of course is hand drawn (kids, look it up) and not CG, so certain styling choices are made. But the essence of the character is there and there is nothing remotely sexual about it.

What changed the drawing (from my opinion) was a slight change in the shape of the eyes and the addition of black eye lashes (Merida’s are light as are many redheads). This and a few other painting choices aged the girl and help to create this stir.

This was not a re-design of a Disney property. All you have to do is look around at all the different styles Disney uses (some intentional, others just bad art) in their characters.

It should make us all stop and question everything we hear or read on the net. Of course, what fun would that be.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.