2013 Top 5 – #3: #593 – Merida’s Makeover

Happy New Year! I was a little nervous writing last year’s third most popular post. As a man I have no idea what it’s like to be a woman. I can’t understand the pressures society puts on women to fit into an unrealistic mold. However, I do care about the women and girls in my life, and that concern helped fuel this post on Merida’s makeover. I was proud of this post and I’m glad it struck a chord.

brave-merida-makeover1

I’m not a woman and I was never a little girl. I’ve never had to live as a woman in a society that sends out so many negative messages about beauty and body image. I may not be a woman but I have seen the impact of those negative messages on many female students over the years and I’m worried about the impact they will have on my nieces and my potential daughters.

Unfortunately one of the most negative messages seems to be coming from Disney.

Last year Disney and Pixar released Brave, a wonderful story about an independent young woman named Merida. Merida wanted to make her own choices and not have her life’s path dictated for her. The Pixar animators also designed the character to look natural, with more realistic proportions than most animated women.

In spite of the popularity of both Merida’s character and look, Disney has decided to give her a makeover. Merida is set to become an official Disney princess but, before she can receive that great honor, she has to be completely transformed.

The Huffington Post summed up her makeover, which you can see above, like this:

And just in time for her royal induction, the animated character has received a head-to-toe makeover — she’s thinner, her eyes are wider and … Is that miracle anti-frizz solution she’s using? What is going on!?

What’s going on is that a perfectly wonderful character with a tremendously unique look is being forced to fit into some idealized mold. Animated depictions of women are almost always preposterously proportioned and completely disconnected from reality. Disney princesses and comic book heroines don’t look like real women. And now Disney is taking one of its most realistic characters and making her look as fake as all the others.

I want my female students and my nieces to know that it’s ok to have frizzy hair and blemishes. Nobody is perfect and who we are on the inside is far more important than who we are on the outside. Disney is just one segment of society trying to push an unrealistic ideal. In Merida, Disney had a champion for strong women who challenged that ideal. Unfortunately Disney is changing much more than her appearance with Merida’s makeover.

If you’d like to sign a petition for Disney to leave Merida the way she is, go here.

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