Merida’s “Brave” Makeover

Merida’s “Brave” Makeover

IdbipnIhooarvOG-556x313-noPad The makeover of Princess Merida from Disney’s Brave has created some controversy, many people, including the director of Brave, Brenda Chapman, saying that:

“There is an irresponsibility to this decision that is appalling for women and young girls. Disney marketing and the powers that be that allow them to do such things should be ashamed of themselves.” 

Even sparking a petition to keep Merida as she is, with 208,859 supporters (including myself) and counting on

I’ve heard many times people say that children don’t see what adults see, that children won’t be harmed by the repeated slamming of the message in many “Disney Princess” movies that women are supposed to be slim, beautiful and wait – wait for a man to love them, rescue them, be with them or choose them.

I remember very clearly, when I was around 8 years old, believing with absolute certainty that I was fat and if I was skinny and beautiful, if I looked like a princess, boys would be nice to me.

Looking back that is such a horrible thought for a healthy young girl to have. Why did I want boys’ attention anyway? I’d been watching Snow White, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, all these movies I had grown up with have one common theme; a beautiful woman meets a man, falls in love and they live happily ever after. Isn’t that lovely? What else should an 8 year old be wanting other than to looking beautiful, be impossibly skinny and marry the man of her dreams?

How about anything else?!?

Running, climbing, getting dirty, making friends – friends who are boys but not boyfriends – kids who are 8 shouldn’t be feeling insecure about their weight in terms of being attractive to boys! That is simply not a message I would I like to give either of my own children.

Now that I have a girl part of me wants to watch all those movies I loved in my childhood, getting to relive it with her, I think though I will be very careful about what movies she watches, with regards to how women are portrayed in these movies. Even just movies like Lilo and Stitch or Ponyo, which is much more about love that children can understand and relate to, love of a friend or sibling, rather than being romantic.

Which brings me to the Diney Pixar movie Brave; The Princess Merida absolutely rocks! She’s “brave”. She doesn’t wait around to be rescued, she wants to decide her own fate, isn’t interested in getting married and just wants to be free to play and run and get dirty, she doesn’t fuss about how much she eats, and she absolutely did not want to look like a princess, she didn’t want to wear the pretty dress, and have her hair done. She is a fantastic role model for little girls, and a movie I’m totally happy for my children to watch.

I think it’s totally wrong that they’ve done and I don’t understand why they’ve done it. Did the artist who drew up this new prettied up, low-cut bodice wearing, glittery, “Princessy” princess actually watch the movie? If so, did they totally miss the point of the movie?

What movies do you watch with your children?

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Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. Rachel is obsessed prams, car seats, carriers and all things baby. She has worked in the baby industry for several years, for both suppliers and also in a retail setting and has developed a passion for connecting parents with the right products to make their lives easier. When Rachel isn't playing with prams she's enjoys crocheting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.


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