Most of the time when people get makeovers, it's a happy thing. A boost to the self-esteem. A stellar moment bringing out a better you, in turn giving you more confidence. But when a Disney princess gets a makeover, some kids might shed tears, and parents, well, we do what's expected of us -- have an adult-sized temper tantrum.
I'm the one who loves Tattoo Barbie and Drag Queen Barbie, so I'm not going to have an issue with Brave's Merida showing a little more decolletage. But her makeover is more than just a little more skin.
Merida's dress certainly has more sparkle, her waist looks smaller, and she seems to be wearing a lot more makeup. Those eyes! What's her secret? She looks less tired. Her hair has definitely been tamed with some anti-frizz serum. She looks older. Perhaps she got her first period. She might be going through a new discovery phase ... the discovery of lipstick and eye-popping mascara. She's -- as much as I hate to say it -- sexier. And sexy is apparently a very bad word according to some.
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Disney unveiled this change to their 11th princess and child development experts are concerned. "This one character may not do any damage to a girl's psychological development, per se," Dr. Robyn Silverman told Yahoo. "But Merida joins a barrage of thin, sultry characters for girls, making her yet another facet of our sexed-up, thinned down messaging." Yikes!
The movie is called Brave, and Merida certainly was with her bow and arrow and adventure-seeking personality. But does this new look mean she can't still be adventurous? Does this mean she's just interested in seduction and finding the dress with the most sparkles? As a girl-turned-woman who loves heels, frilly girly things, showing off decolletage, and anti-frizz serums, I can tell you I can love all those things and still be adventurous and brave. We shouldn't stereotype people, and we surely shouldn't stereotype Disney characters to our children. What message does that send? Merida didn't turn into a slut because of a little makeover. Being brave doesn't have one look. Being physically alluring doesn't mean your brain is vacant and you can't be strong with good self-esteem and a love for the outdoors.
Still, whenever anyone gives a makeover to any animated character, it's confusing. As a kid I remember noticing Mickey Mouse's voice was different in some episodes. That kind of messed me up. Why is he talking different, I wondered. What happened to him? And have you seen what they've done to Strawberry Shortcake these days?! But we all grow up and change, even animated folks. Someday even our little kids will be driving cars, putting on too much makeup, and taming their unkempt hair like we unsuccessfully tried to do all through preschool. Maybe we just dislike change -- kids and adults. But change can be good. And looking "sexier" doesn't have to be a bad thing. We just need to take our minds out of the gutter.
What do you think of Merida's makeover? Does it bother you?
Image via Disney/Pixar