Remember the recent ‘Merida makeover’ debacle, wherein Disney decided to change the appearance of Brave‘s Princess Merida from being a round-faced, wild-haired fearless teenager with a bow to a more coy-looking, demure version with tamer hair, enormous eyes, and a thinner frame and face? Well, the new Merida doll, shown above on the left, is even more ridiculously different.
The ‘Disney Princess Merida Sparkle Doll,’ sold at Target, is disproportionately thin with large eyes and awkward pageant-hands. Her freckles are kept to a minimal dusting; the hair has clearly been blown out by a hairdresser whose favorite description is “vintage curls.” She looks bored. There is no excitement or curiosity, as was so characteristic to Merida in Brave.
Then again, even prior to the film’s release, Disney was already selling a similar doll via Toys ‘R’ Us. Her hair, while curly, is considerably tamer than the film’s version; her jawline is angular; her eyes are Barbie-large; her hands are pushed out and stuck together in typical, “I seriously cannot do anything with these things” fashion. Merida, on the other hand (pun not intended), fires bows and yields swords and does all manner of fascinating things because she is a proactive, exciting character.
These dolls all looks as though they could never be used by little kids as a portion of a story that didn’t involve sleep and a date at some point (not that there’s anything wrong with naps or dates, but, y’know…swords and monsters are generally more enthralling when it comes to imagination time). Toys for boys are generally made for telling all manner of stores; toys of girls are typically designed to play house with. And while I admittedly loved playing house, it’d be excellent to see some diversity for once.
In a somewhat bizarre twist, the Merida doll sold by the Disney Store itself is the only one that actually looks like the film’s version of her.
So, we know that it’s possible to create a doll who is not just a red-haired Cinderella, right? Right.
I have been upset about this stupid makeover, and I’m certainly not the only one. Many of you have been upset about this, as well as the 200,000 people who signed the online petition. Hell, even Jon Stewart was angry as he discussed the story last Thursday on The Daily Show, saying:
“The point is this, Disney: You need to reconsider this makeover because you have an arrangment with the parents of America, of which I am one,” he said. “Our job is to make sure the children are sitting in front of the screen. Your job is to raise them right. And if you keep teaching them the wrong lessons, then we’re going to have to start doing it ourselves, and that’s not cool.”
Boosh. Stewart is completely justified in being angry as a father; it’s nearly impossible for parental figures to find positive role models for their daughters. And while many wonderful characters’ stories do certainly end in love, marriage and the rest of that romance stuff, it’s been great to see a princess who didn’t need to be rescued by a kiss, rose or specially-fitted high heel. And it was also really, really nice to see an animated female role model whose proportions and demeanor weren’t identical to every other princess.