Disney, my seven year old is #notbuyingit.

The 7yo Original Pigtail Pal went to school today with unbrushed hair. Again. I asked if we could run a comb through it, specifically for the pieces sticking straight up in back. She flatly refused, saying she they were her crown and she wanted to show her friends that there are different ways to be a princess.

I asked why this was important to her, and she said “Princesses are supposed to be powerful and smart and daring. Have you SEEN what they did to Merida? I know, right? She isn’t ready to rule Scotland or Ohio. She is with a bunch of girls standing like they are trying to catch frickin’ boyfriends or butterflies. *gasp* Mom! I swore!”

“No worries, Smalls. It is pretty frickin’ insane,” I relied.


My 7yo Merida-loving girl is not in love with Disney’s version of Merida.

Disney, and specifically the Disney Princess brand, was a major influence when I was creating my company Pigtail Pals back in 2009. Back then we were Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly with the tagline that girls are “Smart, daring and adventurous”.  I know have a seven year old girl who has been raised with empowering messages and has had a girlhood virtually free of Disney Princesses.

Until Merida came along. We fell in love with Merida. We purchased Merida toys, my first purchase as a parent from the Disney Store. Our whole family loved “Brave” and we spent the summer galloping on imaginary horses and shooting arrows from our pool noodle bows. There were early indications that Disney couldn’t help itself, and because the Princess brand is so narrow, Merida would be made over super dainty and “princessified” in order to fit in with the rest of the merchandise. What Disney doesn’t seem to get is that people loved Merida because she was different.

A child’s brand should not be sexed up in order to be more profitable, but that is exactly what Disney does. That is why my family does not do Disney. The “come hither” eyes and delicate poses and coy looks….No. That is not how we raise little girls into self confident and strong young women. My daughter’s worth is not her sex appeal.

My daughter has the natural born right to plant her feet firmly, look you directly in the eye, shoulders square, and claim her right to take up space in this world.


This is the Merida we love. This is the kind of image my daughter has been raised with.

The new Princess Merida, with sexy eyes, hair and curves. And requisite sparkles.



















Here’s more from the Mary Sue and from our pal Peggy Orenstein.

You can pre-order my new book “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween” here.



You can sign our petition HERE.

Academy Award winner director Brenda Chapman, creator of Merida, speaks out against Disney’s redrawing of Merida and give them a piece of her mind! Read HERE.


  1. Oh no! We love Merida, the Original, awesome, unique , Brave Merida! This is awful 🙁

  2. Elizabeth T. says:

    Whether or not I liked the movie, I DID really like the presentation of a “princess” as a physically strong, personally independent girl. I, too, thought Disney had figured out that the market would embrace such a figure. I feared, however, that has the new owner of Pixar Studios, that someone at Disney would force the Standard Princess Model upon them. Well, Pixar got their way … now Disney is getting theirs.

    After all, this is the first time I have seen gender-segregation in the toy story as a benefit to my boys … all of the icky Merida merchandise is in the Girl Section.

    At least my kids (sons) can was the Real Merida with the most important part: the movie.

  3. I could live with sparkles, because our house loves sparkly things. Lol But my 7yo had the same reaction. Fancy Merida is wrong, she liked the original, off the shoulder dress isn’t safe to ride horses in, and no. And this coming from a girl who loves the princesses, and all their foof.

    • Adina,
      I could live with sparkles, too. I love sparkles! But Merida wasn’t a sparkle girl, and our children need to see in media that there are many ways to be a girl. Disney has a very cookie cutter image of princesses, and it does a disservice to children forming ideas about self worth, body image, and value to society.

  4. Thank-you for this enjoyable blog and your observations. Will be ordering your book. I hope your readers will consider contributing the the publication of my new critical children’s book titles: “What’s Up With Princess?”

    We need alternatives for our children.


  5. Funny you mentioned Amelia’s hair. That is one of the things I noticed about the “new” Merida. Here is a comment I wrote on the Mighty Girl Facebook post about this:

    “What was wrong with the first one? Does princess have to mean sparkly? I dislike the new look entirely but the hair really jumped out at me. Merida is not a character who cares about her hair. The tangles were a sign that she had better things to do than fuss about her hair. The new one looks too red-carpet ready. Yuck.”

  6. This makes me so angry. I’m glad there are places and parents like you (and the PPBB followers) who are NOT buying this garbage.

  7. The animators must be fuming. They spent months and months getting Merida’s unruly hair just right just for it to all of a sudden look like it was drowned in a whole bottle of conditioner.
    Oh, and obviously they only have space for one strong-willed red-head because she seems to have replaced Ariel.

  8. Just a quick note to say I really enjoyed your blog post.

    I totally agree with your comments: “A child’s brand should not be sexed up in order to be more profitable” and “That is not how we raise little girls into self confident and strong young women.”

    It is very unfortunate how girls are sexualized. I think you may be interested in this documentary Sexts-up Kids: http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episode/sext-up-kids.html#

    Nancy Beth Guptill

  9. Preeeech it! My daughters, now 22 and 17, have a united front against the “some day your prince will come” syndrome. As they like to say, “I can kill my own damn dragon!”

  10. And Mulan and her team of crossdressers always get left out. I have one princess and one wild woman in my house and what I love most is watching them learn from each other.

  11. DoubleCross says:

    Merida’s pose in the second image is generally considered to be a dominant stance — the arms are crossed, setting a barrier and the feet are wide-set, taking up space. (First image is definitely a little ‘more traditionally feminine’ though.) The reason her eyes look ‘come-hither’ or lidded is mostly because her eyelashes, as per the style, have been drawn in black, whereas her eyelashes in the film are ginger and therefore almost entirely invisible because thin light hair on white skin stops existing at a certain distance.

    I can see a more reasonable critique in the cut of her dress — it’s been taken off-the-shoulder, which would be slightly uncomfortable for raising your arms, and the bow strap is then cutting into her bare shoulder. (Somebody above mentioned it would be dangerous to ride in — so would be the film’s dress. It’s hardly body armour.) Her cheeks have also been thinned down a little but I don’t see anybody here picking up on that.

    I’m definitely going to have trouble explaining my view on the hair, but here goes. Merida’s hair would be impossible to perfectly reproduce while aligning to the Disney clip-art’s particular style. The attempt here is pretty fair for an artist who not only will have to draw said hair over and over for multiple clip-arts, but had to design it so that other artists taking over the job could easily pick it up as well. It’s clearly still a LOT messier than the other princesses because there are several (though thin, sometimes lines) breaches of the very jagged outline and there’s a high level of detail put into it compared to, say, all the ladies right next to her. I guess the most major thing is that the lighter orange lock isn’t present in the clip-art.

    I don’t have much to say about sparkles since most everybody’s been doused in them with this year’s redesign of the line.

    BTW, Alex, I don’t think she’s ‘replacing’ Ariel in an image which is clearly a smaller version of the line-up intended to put her in more of a spotlight. But if we’re going along that line, I’m surprised you didn’t notice that three other princesses were sort of missing from the image, including Pocahontas and Mulan. But hey, I guess tokenising the white redheads is more pressing than (repeatedly) omitting half the princesses of colour from artwork…

  12. sherpamama says:

    So I am too tired and cranky to make a concise rebuttal to the article I’m linking here – could someone go set these women straight?! I am so angry about the comments that I can’t even think properly and will just come across all rage-y. Thanks!! http://www.mamapop.com/2013/05/mothers-overreact-to-disneys-makeover-of-braves-merida.html

  13. I am a strong defender of Disney, and while I agree the merchandising can get a bit out of hand, I feel everyone is overreacting.

    Here are some arguments on the other princesses (and Merida’s merchandise design) favour that I strongly agree with:

    “Not every woman is a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess ready to set off on her next adventure, and if you think they should be you’re just as small-minded as the misogynists you claim to war against. The point of a Disney princess is someone you can relate to. Some girls, and some boys, relate to different princesses. All of them are different. The fact that the older princesses were “rescued from a prince” or “weren’t confident in themselves” doesn’t diminish the fact that they got sh*t done and were awesome as f***.”

    “You need to be careful. When you start screaming “Disney is sexist! These girls are too sexy!” it should become painfully obvious that you’re missing the point. Disney teaches girls that the beauty—or ugly—of a person is reflected from the inside. If you can’t see behind the physical appearance of Disney’s females, that is your failing—not the company’s.
    Society teaches us that femininity is wrong. That women must have “masculine” qualities to be powerful and appreciated. That only princesses like Merida and Mulan should be looked up to as role models for girls because they are tomboyish and use weapons.
    We need to teach our daughters that it doesn’t matter whether she’s the “before” or “after” image. That if a girl uses it, it is a girl’s thing. That if a girl doesn’t use it, she is still awesome as f*ck.”

    • Seconded.

    • Completely agree.

      As a side note, I’d also like to point out that the author of this post is criticizing the fact that the new Merida has curves — is she trying to say that girls are supposed to be stick skinny or have masculine bodies?

      As someone who has now been in a male dominated engineering field for 5 years, it makes me crazy sick that American society expects me to act / look / be more like a man in order to be accepted. Makeup and dresses (and curves) don’t interfere with my ability to do my job well, so why make those things sound like they’re less than respectable?

    • Thirded/


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  3. […] May 22nd, 2013 | Author: melissa Since early May people from all over the world have been voicing their negative opinion over the Merida makeover that turned our wild hearted, daring, confident princess from a youthful […]

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