Parents blast Disney's new Merida as too sexy

The company's $4 billion princess franchise is adding the 'Brave' heroine to its lineup. But some parents don't like her new look.

By Aimee Picchi May 10, 2013 12:27PM

Film image released by Disney/Pixar of Princess Merida in Walt Disney (DIS) will officially anoint a new princess on Saturday, when "Brave" heroine Merida joins the $4 billion franchise. But the coronation isn't going so smoothly, with thousands of parents outraged at what some are calling a Victoria's Secret makeover for the character. 

The original Merida (pictured at left) was touted as a healthy role model for girls when the Pixar film was released last year. The character is strong, smart, independent and wickedly talented with a bow and arrow. Her hair swirled about her in a mess of red curls, far from the coiffed 'dos worn by other Disney heroines like Cinderella or Snow White.

To get her ready to join the princess lineup, Disney has given her a makeover, with neater hair and a thinner waist (pictured at right). She has also ditched her bow and arrow. 

That's spurring calls for the princess to get rescued from Disney's clutches, with more than 47,000 people signing a petition on asking the company to keep Merida's original look. 

The makeover "does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model," the petition says. "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."

The outrage has continued on Twitter, with one consumer writing, "So @Disney, your film was all abt #Merida being BRAVE but merchandise is all abt her being HOT?" Others say they are unhappy with the makeover and liked the original better. 

Even beauty editors got in on the criticism, with Glamour's Petra Guglielmetti writing that the makeover gives Merida curls "more like Victoria's Secret model waves."

Not everyone is outraged. One writer at the parent-focused Mama Pop wrote, "I'm having trouble seeing the scandal here."

However you might feel about the makeover, the issue is more than skin deep for Disney. The princess franchise is a huge moneymaker for the media company, which first brought together the princesses in 2000. Since then, the franchise has racked up $4 billion in retail sales, with themed products such as books and night lights.

Aimee Picchi owns shares in Disney but hasn't bought or sold in at least 12 months. Follow her on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

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May 10, 2013 1:12PM
You people do realize this is a cartoon, right? Can't you people find something real to be upset and protest about?
May 10, 2013 1:18PM
I get the impression, some of these people have no lives and need some fantasy figure to gripe about. Why not go out and help someone, feed the hungry, help the sick and infirm, clothe the naked. Get a life.
May 10, 2013 1:27PM
Most little girls aren't going to notice, mine included. But there is something off-putting about how Disney feels they have to add sex appeal to a children's character - why remake her with bare shoulders and tiny waist?
May 10, 2013 1:17PM
She was beautiful as she was.  They should have left her alone, unruly hair and all.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and most people don't look like a Victoria's secret model.
May 10, 2013 2:59PM
Ok, seriously?
1. You're comparing a hand drawn image to CGI image... OF COURSE they're going to look different! You're trying to compare apples with oranges here people.
2. Those are NOT "Victoria Secret Waves" waves people! That's how curly hair is drawn! And in that vein, she does not look like a Victoria Secret model. They have very tiny waists and big chests with no muscle tone. Merida is tiny all around and athletic.
3. They did not make her skinner! The stance she's in makes her appear skinner, yes, but if you do a quick google search they have drawings of her in different positions and she is no skinner then the CGI version.
4. The only difference I see is the off the shoulder dress. I don't actually agree with them doing this but honestly it's an extremely minor detail to me so I can over look it.
5. Just because she isn't drawn with her bow and arrows doesn't mean she is ditching them. They are props and a good character is recognizable  without their props.

And finally, if you're worried that you're daughter is going to end up with a negative view of herself because of this here's an idea for you. TALK TO HER ABOUT IT! Use Merida and the other princesses as a teaching tool. Stop letting movies and tv characters raise your kids for you.
May 10, 2013 1:54PM
Honestly, it just looks like she was drawn in a different style rather than really changed.
May 10, 2013 2:51PM

Have these parents not seen Aladdin???  Jasmin's outfit is very revealing.

May 10, 2013 1:32PM

Parents like this =  reason why I do not want kids. Worry about their grades and teaching them to be decent moral people (The Big Stuff)...this small stuff is a waste to worry about and you make your kids grow up to be critical self entitled everything must be my way or it is wrong spolied brats! I would like to see if a 4 year old little girl looks at this doll and thinks "OMG the pressure for me to be sexy is just too much!!". Kids this age having sex image problems?Really???

May 10, 2013 3:13PM

If people are getting bent-out-of-shape over this then they clearly have too much time on their hands and need to focus on something IMPORTANT.

May 10, 2013 2:45PM
Too sexy... have they seen Little Mermaid or Aladdin??? How about beauty and the beast. All 3 of those princess were much more racy than Merida. Where were the protests for back then??? Seriously grow up, Disney is the most family friendly you are going to find in the movie market. Attacking them is not the brightest idea.
May 10, 2013 3:26PM
Who the heck is letting their children be influenced by a cartoon as a role model? Maybe it should be the parents being the role model for their children instead. Come on. I want my daughter to be imaginative, go getting and creative, but I do not tell be to go immulate Phineas and Ferb (since we are discussing Disney characters). Too many parents let the role models in their childrens lives be someone they should not be like in the first place. Stoners have Jay and Silent Bob along with Snoop whoever, thugs and hoodlums have most rappers (and I am not making a racists remark, there are multiple races that are included in all of these catagories), the goths have Marilyn Manson, etc. Maybe if you want your kids to be well adjusted, get well adjusted yourself and be a role model. Quit letting TV and pop culture be the ones teaching and raising your kids. You are the same ones who want to raise up little limp wristed individuals who can not stand up for themselves. Get over yourselves. I also believe that most of the ones who have a whining fest about this are ones who, no matter how much make up of fixing of hair, or more would be just at best a plain Jane. And before anyone makes a derogatory comment about me saying something about the unattractive. I'm one of them, I just have grown a pair and understand I am who I am and do not wish to be a wennie about every little thing on earth. That may be because my role models were my family and no one else. Now that brought strength in my life.
May 10, 2013 1:22PM
You want real?  How about Brittany Spears?  Or, Miley Cyrus?  Or Lindsay Lohan?  This is what Disney has produced over the last several years.  So yes, changing the character is not a good thing to do.  And, even though Merida is a cartoon character, girls all over the world are looking up to her as a role model. 
May 10, 2013 3:03PM

Í don't see what the blow up is about.... if you pay attention to all of  the princesses from Cinderella to Merida, they are all drawn with small waists and cute shapes.  So are our daughter's Barbie dolls.  I do think they need to leave her character in place along with her bow and arrows. those are her trademarks for independence.  Little girls need to know that even princessses grow up to be adults.

May 10, 2013 1:50PM

Ahh but Mom and Dad Disney lacks creativity and originally so they have nothing of true entertainment anymore and think that they can lure kids in with Sexy and Sexist Characters.


---this character also looks like Shrek's Wife before her transformation back to an Ogar! 

They have gone overbaord even in the TV shows on DISNEY.


I remember a few years ago while babysitting a neighbor's kid when those 2 little blonde boys perked up when one said something as: "Hey Dude 10:00 Hot Babe" and then as these 2 little boys who most likely hadn't even had a Wet Dream yet, and both saw a young girl maybe a year or so old look over her shoulder and flip her long locks at them as she was a sexy celebrity over that of just a kid in a too short lacy dress!


I will never forget that scene! But did change the channel rapidly and this child and I watched Little House together----she loved it too and quickly became a Little House Fan! No sex, no sexual innuendos, and no sexist scenes made with little boys!!!!!!!!!! 

May 10, 2013 3:19PM
I don't see the big deal, the little mermaid showed more skin than that.
May 10, 2013 3:17PM

Anyone remember the original Tinkerbell?  Looks nothing like the current one.  People need to just lighten up and quit complainging about everything.

May 10, 2013 1:26PM
I think she looks cute and the children won't give a darn about her new look they just want the doll l for their collection. You might also think maybe just maybe it will help girls by wanting to look like her. In other words maybe just lose weight. I know I will take a hit on that comment but think about it. All help is better than none and dolls are a good lesson.
May 10, 2013 2:02PM
May 10, 2013 3:23PM
You've go to be kidding me... Let me guess, fat ugly parents of fat ugly kids want a non-threatening doll? I'm sure there are Shrek dolls they can buy instead. Are they going after Barbie as well? Or maybe they're muslim trying to push their beliefs on us. What bothers me more than these freaks is people like Disney and others will do what they ask rather than the right thing which is tell them to get bent, or better yet; move back to whence they came.

It makes me wonder if Disney hadn't ditched her bow and arrow how many idiot anti-gun liberals would be throwing a fit over the "violent" toy they were pushing on their kids. Hear about the little kid that got suspended for making gun noises with a pencil? Or the one with a soap bubble gun? People are completely out of control. Or should I say they're using such things to gain control, and the sheep (our majority) are letting them. The US used to be strong and would stand up to bullies like this whatever their form, now we just let them walk all over us and our rights. At this pace can you imagine what it'll be like in 40 years? Would anyone believe life here today 40 years ago?

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