Sometimes little things matter. Because little things add up to big things and if we don’t fight the little things, the big things then become insurmountable problems.
Disney has given Merida, the feisty heroine of the film Brave, a makeover prior to her official induction to the Disney Princess collection.
Gone is the lovely round face and girlish looks, replaced by a slimmer, sexier, sultry-looking Merida.
The big question is why? Who is demanding this makeover? Did children not like the original Merida? Did they not take her to their hearts as a loveable, flawed character they could actually relate to? Or was it simply the decision of someone high-up in marketing that the makeover was necessary because she had to conform to the ridiculously narrow definition of what a Disney Princess should look like?
Clearly this decision wasn’t taken because children were asking for it – and yet it is children who will suffer the consequences. Young girls who are already bombarded with media images of stick-thin celebrities and have to grow-up in a highly sexualised culture, will now have another impossibly-perfect supposed role-model thrust upon them. And they will know she has been changed because she didn’t look right. Because she didn’t ‘fit in’. What kind of message does that send to them?
It matters that they are constantly told that this is the only way to look, that anything less than perfect is undesirable. We know it matters from the number of young girls with eating disorders, who self-harm, who obsess about their weight and who have chronically low levels of self-esteem because they don’t fit that narrow definition of what is desirable.
It matters for boys too. Because they are growing-up receiving this same message about what girls should look like and what is desirable and so the myth is perpetuated.
Children come in all shapes and sizes and complete with all sorts of imperfections. If someone at Disney was brave enough to recognise this, they might just have a much bigger merchandising hit on their hands. And if parents are brave enough to sit down and explain to their children why they won’t be buying the Merida merchandise – we might just get Disney to take notice. And to get our children thinking about the far more important qualities we should be looking for in our role-models. Qualities which have nothing to do with what they look like.
Please join me and sign the Change.org petition by A Mighty Girl to stop the Merida Makeover http://chn.ge/17DZLQC