Unlike some people on this site (cough, Nick Verboon), I’m a big fan of Anita Sarkeesian and her in-progress video series about how women are portrayed in games. Similarly, I loved the Hawkeye Initiative which aimed to point out the absurdity in the posing and costuming of female comic book characters.
But even I have to draw the line somewhere, and this latest Disney-related controversy has me scratching my head. It’s a result of the above image, where the Merida on the right was posted to the Disney Princess website, given a slight makeover to look a little more like the other princesses. Namely, more sparkles.
Then it turned into a…thing, somehow. With people saying that this new “sexy” Merida was offensive to the central character of the original film, and even the director of the film spoke out about it.
Maybe it’s just because I’m more familiar with “sexy” Disney Princess art looking like this, but I think calling this Merida makeover scandalous is a stretch beyond plausibility. It simply looks like a different animation style to me. She has what, maybe slightly thicker eyelashes? A waist cinched in maybe another inch at the most? And…sparkles? I really don’t understand how this redesign is “objectifying” her character. If they’d morphed her into something like this, I’d get it, but I just don’t see the issue here. They were simply trying to make her match the aesthetic of the other princess designs on the site, and I have a hunch if that her dress was simply the right color, this wouldn’t even have turned into a controversy.
I’m all for calling out objectification where it exists in pop culture (and it ‘s everywhere), but I just don’t see it here.