My Thoughts On: Merida’s Redesign

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So you’ve probably seen the above image floating around the internet recently. On Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube etc. If you haven’t basically Disney recently added Merida from Brave to the Disney Princess line up. And thus we see this new design for her.

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And as a result many fans of the film were understandably angry. Even the film’s director Brenda Chapman who felt it went against the very idea behind Merida as a character. As for me, I don’t mind it as much. Certainly I agree with all the problems addressed but there are things I like too. I like how the artist drew her hair in 2D, I like her belt and I like how the above picture despite its flaws still captures Merida’s attitude with her stance and expression. Most problems I have with the design aren’t exclusive to Merida though, they’re problems I have with the whole set.

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The new Merida design was made to be part of this set. This is why it doesn’t bother me so much, because most of the problems with her design are problems the whole set has. The overdose of glitter, the fact she’s in a fancy dress despite expressing hate for doing so etc. It’s all so that Disney Princesses can be its own brand apart from the movies they all come from, so that when you see the Disney Princess line up you don’t see a crossover of 11 different movies and instead see one franchise.

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Now these designs got a pretty strong negative reaction too. Especially Mulan who seemed to have been “whitewashed”. And the artist did go back and fix this particular problem.

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Looking at Merida’s design with the rest of the princesses I think the design works. My biggest problem with the set is the glitter, it overused on almost everyone and doesn’t match the art itself. I’m sure it’ll look lovely on the dolls and any actual dresses they might make but on the art it really doesn’t work. Take that away and…

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You get this. I think this picture looks much better. Also it shows the artist does let Merida keep her bow and arrows. This is more about the art than anything else, take away the glitter and putting all opinions on the designs aside I think the artist is talented. One problem though, why is Jasmine so short?

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Looking at the complete line up I think Merida fits in fine. But something about this picture bothers me. Someone seems out of place, taking away the entire point of Merida even getting her new dress in the first place.

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Yep, Pocahontas is still in the exact same outfit with no changes. I’m pretty sure it isn’t even the same artist.

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Even the picture the artist did draw stands out and is clearly traced from the image being used now. I don’t think it’s fair that Pocahontas seems like she isn’t part of the set. Even in this dress. Also can we please get a new stance for her?

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But back to Merida. I implied I still have problems that doesn’t apply to the whole set. Something I think the artist can change while still having her design work as part of a Disney Princess set.  First there’s the fact that her dress is shoulderless (or whatever the term is), unlike the other changes this one is completely unnecessary and many feel it’s sexualised her. I do agree since as a result of this a section of her chest is bare. She also seems skinnier, I don’t know if this is just the artist being used to drawing girls this thin but as a result her bust stands out more adding to the issue of her looking more like she’s been drawn to be sexy rather than a princess. Other than the bare shoulders I think the dress is just a new outfit they’ve given her but making her look skinny and busty is altering her physical appearance and that is a problem. Now I don’t know if it was an accident or a choice to make her more marketable but it is a problem Merida’s design has that I don’t have with the other princesses.

In conclusion I think that Merida’s Disney Princess design has pros and cons. It’s not 100% horrible but it isn’t without valid problems. I just feel Merida not liking the kind of dress she’s been given isn’t one of those problems, she still wore the dress it’s based on for most of the movie and it is for the Disney Princess brand. The glitter is bad but it’s a problem with all the princesses (except Pocahontas who is lucky enough to get a glitter free look despite her recycled art) and some art of the design won’t have it. Also why is Jasmine so short?