This post has been updated, please see below for details.
Merida, the feisty, outdoorsy heroine of Pixar's 2012 animated film "Brave," was many a parent's dream come true. In an era in which girls are often hypersexualized in entertainment and the media, Merida stood apart. She hates all the finery that comes with being a lady in the higher court. Her father may be king, but she is far more interested in being a good shot and riding her horse than in following the path her mother has set for her, which requires marriage to keep the kingdom operating harmoniously.
This weekend, Disney's consumer products division inducted Merida into its "princess collection." (Pixar is a division of Disney, and the company merchandises all of their characters.) That means her new likeness should be featured on countless backpacks, figurines, nightgowns and more, though a quick search of the Disney site shows that the original Merida still reigns.
But it seems the Scottish archer has received a makeover as part of this induction, and not everyone is thrilled with the changes. Among the modifications: Merida's long mane of red curls has been defrizzed, her neckline has plunged, her waistline has narrowed and her wide-eyed, round face has been angled. She's also got eyeliner.
The transformation has inspired the launch of a petition on Change.org, urging Disney Chairman Bob Iger to return Merida to her original self. It has collected over 120,000 signatures so far.
"Brave" creator and Oscar winner Brenda Chapman voiced her opposition to the character's transformation in an email sent to the Marin Independent Journal, where she said that the changes effectively contradict her original intent with the character, which was "to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to.'"
She added, ""When little girls say they like it because it's more sparkly, that's all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy 'come hither' look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It's horrible! Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance."
Disney responded with this statement, "Merida exemplifies what it means to be a Disney Princess through being brave, passionate, and confident and she remains the same strong and determined Merida from the movie whose inner qualities have inspired moms and daughters around the world."