In other news, there is an official induction to the Disney Princess Collection.
To feminists everywhere, Disney recently did one thing right: Brave. The protagonist, Merida, is a rebellious red-haired princess who undergoes adventures of her own, rescues herself, and rejects marriage. In 40 years she will turn into Hillary Clinton, a real fairytale ending. The idea was to refute the message we’re sending to young girls that the only way to feel successful and fulfilled is to be beautiful and get married, so poor Merida ends up ugly and unmarried…until now.
Merida’s official induction to the Disney Princess Collection is to be held Saturday, May 11, but before joining the likes of her beautiful predecessors, Merida underwent a makeover.
The new Merida has a smoother complexion, rosier cheeks, a slimmer waist, and bigger breasts. She has a much more mature look, exposing more skin in her new dress, and she appears to be wearing makeup — you know, if cartoons can wear makeup. Someone also introduced her to a few Bumble and Bumble products for curly hair, which my roommates swear by, because the princess’s curls have been tamed *gasp.* People are pissed:
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.
I understand the uproar, really, I do. We’re not living in a society where it’s realistic for everyone to grow up, get married, and live happily ever after, and the argument is that changing the cheeky princess’s image will somehow alter the nature of her personality. Personally, I think by separating beauty and self-sufficiency in such a way, we are sending the opposite message: beautiful women can not be successful and that any preoccupation with beauty somehow makes you vapid and dependent. It makes it seem like you have to make a choice between beauty and personal success. What’s wrong with wanting both? I can say with certainty that given that choice as a child, I would have opted to be beautiful. To be honest, I’d probably make the same choice now. So this message, that the two things are mutually exclusive, could potentially make able women reject their independence, because they assume it will detract from their beauty. While aesthetics shouldn’t be the only value we preach to young girls, we certainly shouldn’t be sending the message that successful women can’t also be beautiful.
With regard to Merida, specifically, it’s important to realize that when she becomes a part of the Disney Princess Collection, she is becoming a part of a brand. Mulan underwent the same makeover ten years ago. She can fight ninjas on her own time, but when she’s featured as part of the collection, she’s in her kimono looking fabulous. Much like when you join a sorority, no one is asking you to change yourself, but when you’re wearing your letters, you need to do your best to represent what they represent. While Brave is about female independence and being your own person, the collection as a whole, is not. It represents beauty, and fantasy, and being a damn princess. It’s absolutely acceptable Merida to dress up a little bit for the most important event in her fictional life.
[via Huffington Post]