I’ll admit it now: it’s taken me a while to get used to Merida in the Disney Princess lineup. I thought her existence as a half Disney, half Pixar creation was already dodgy, she barely sings… I mean, let’s be honest, I was being picky. That’s not to say that Merida’s induction into the Disney Princess family hasn’t been without a couple of controversies along the way, the biggest being her Disneyfication.
When Rapunzel was being inducted, we all wondered how she would be translated from 3D into 2D and then we saw it all worked pretty well. So when Merida came along, we all knew they could do it. Deep inside, we all knew Merida’s regular dress wouldn’t cut it for the razzmatazzy line of the Disney Princesses. Upon the unveiling of her new look, the creator of Merida was astounded at how they had shrunk down her waist and made her hair luscious and beautiful, all characteristics of puffed up beauty she felt Merida was rebelling against.
Here’s how I’ve called it: for Merida’s age, I feel any oversexualisation of her body (by overshrunk waists or inflated chests) isn’t ok, and I’d have a problem with that irrespective of the characters feelings. In terms of her hair – it’s still fiery and unruly. The curls might be a little more 2D defined but they’ve hardly transformed her hair into the luscious mane that is Auroras or Jasmines.
There’s something to be said for the independence Merida shows, though, and this raises an important point. She’s the first Disney Princess where love interests are completely off the table. She doesn’t want a prince, she won’t end up with a prince, foot down, end of story. She follows in the freedom fighter vein of Mulan, without the crush on any fancy general at the end. From start to finish, Brave is a story of her own self exploration and her understanding more about her familial relationships, particularly of that with her mother. Merida is this new vein of princess fully realised, and one which Elsa follows somewhat in the footsteps of.
It’s taken me a while, but I truly embrace Merida as part of the Disney Princess lineup. She’s a princess for the modern age and is a long way from the old days of classic Snow White. As the last of the official princess lineup, as the weeks continue I’ll focus on princesses and heroines that for some reason or another didn’t make the cut, as well as ones the might be soon (Anna and Elsa.) I’ll also wonder wether or not the heroines they’ve missed off the Princess list actually deserve to be on it, and what the future might hold for the franchise. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!
(image credit: disney.wikia.com)