The backlash was immediate. Mothers complained about the sexualization of the character. Even the original director of "Brave" got into the act; Brenda Chapman said she conceived of Merida, and her strength and independence, as a "love letter" to her own 13-year-old daughter.
After an anti-makeover petition on change.org garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures (it's just shy of 226,000 as of this writing), Disney quietly yanked the picture from its website. But my guess is that it hasn't canceled any orders for those Princess Merida toys now in production overseas. And I'm betting we'll see them on store shelves this holiday season.
As all this was brewing, a friend posted a link on Facebook to this website, where Texas photographer Jaime Moore posted a photo shoot she did of her daughter on the little girl's fifth birthday. But instead of going all pink and frilly, Moore dressed and posed her daughter to match portraits of women who were more famous for their brains: Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall, and others. I encourage you to click through and take a look at the gallery. I found it positively uplifting.
This all sparked a discussion with my own daughters, who are both in their twenties. We wondered what it would be like if Disney offered a set of figurines of their Princess characters, but in their pre-princess outfits. Belle could wear the blue-and-white ensemble she spends most of her movie in, Mulan could wear her soldier's uniform, Sleeping Beauty could go back to being a peasant girl named Rose, and Ariel could...well, okay, the seashell bra has always been problematic. But I think Disney might be pleasantly surprised at how well such a set would do. After all, it's the potential of these heroines that little girls really relate to -- not that they became princesses, but that they were ordinary girls once. That's what really gives us all hope, isn't it? That we, too, can start out ordinary and still be successful?
Speaking of makeovers, the challenge is still on: send me your frilly and/or hot-and-sexy cover reboot for any of the Pipe Woman Chronicles. I'll post my favorites.
We're at T-minus 3 days and counting for the launch of Annealed on Wednesday, May 22nd. On release day, I'll be Bill Thompson's guest at the Bookcast; I'll post the link far and wide when it's live. I've got some other cool stuff in the works, too, including a contest. More info on that shortly. It's gonna be a busy week!
This moment of bloggy feminist ranting has been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.