Put down your bows and arrows, Brave fans. After more than a week of concern over the changed appearance of our favorite animated redhead, a Disney rep tells EW that there’s no cause for alarm: Merida’s seemingly sexier image was only created for the heroine’s official induction into the Disney Princess Collection and was always planned to be phased out within a few months of the coronation.
When an image appeared online that showed a drastically altered Merida, it prompted a backlash among fans, including a petition on change.org. “This new Merida is a paler reflection of her former self without the spark and the ‘you go girl’ quality that her creator intended,” the petition reads, urging Disney to return to the Merida from the film.
Twelve days and over 200,000 virtual signatures later (including Cinderella Ate My Daughter author Peggy Ornstein and Snow White and the Huntsman actress Lily Cole) reports started to surface that the Disney Store had quietly taken down all banner images of the thinner, more glamorous Merida, and replaced them with the familiar freckled-face and wild-haired version that we got to know in the film. And petitioners were clear that they wanted it to remain that way.
Shelby Knox, a senior petitioner on the “Keep Merida Brave” campaign and a Sundance-winning filmmaker responsible for the 2005 documentary The Education of Shelby Knox wrote the following update Wednesday:
Making changes to a website are easy & easily undone; the true test will be how Disney plans on depicting Merida on merchandise now that she is part of the official Disney Princess collection to know that Disney is truly committed to preserving the Merida we all know & love, we need to keep the pressure on until we receive an official statement from them promising to keep Merida brave!
Through all the hubbub, Disney Consumer Products has been fairly quiet but a source wanted to clarify that the image was actually never on the Disney Store site, despite reports to the contrary. It appeared on an invitation sent to bloggers for the coronation and on the Target site, they say. When the petition first started getting press, a Disney representative issued a vague statement to Yahoo! Shine that didn’t come close to addressing the concerns of the petitioners. It reads: “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.” Our source says that no other official comment on the matter is planned.
What do you all think? Was this grass roots at work or much ado about nothing?
Follow Lindsey on Twitter: @ldbahr