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 role model into a 16th century Maxim cover girl. Having Merida’s new image focus on beauty and sex appeal is everything Merida wasn’t, and strips her of her empowering qualities that were beloved by audiences and fans everywhere.
What occurred to me the other day, as dozens of parents were emailing me and posting their children’s reactions to the new Meridas was “That’s not Merida” was being said over and over again. I honestly think I saw it a couple hundred times in a forty eight hour period.
The kids are right. That’s not Merida. But with so much of the activism around the Merida makeover taking place on social media, we are leaving out a key group of consumers — our children. My daughter and son had a lot to say about the Merida makeover, but they can’t sign a petition or comment on a viral blog post.
But they can talk to Disney. These girls know what kind of characters they want – more Meridas and Izzys and Doc McStuffins and Vanellopes. I collaborated with an artist friend, the talented David Trumble, who created this image of what it would look like if Disney allowed our girls to help them turn this ship around. Getting back to Disney’s roots, Steamboat Willie looks on happily as a confident and young girl takes the wheel and shows Disney the direction she wants her media to go in.
Disney is a cornerstone of America. I grew up with Disney, my own children have Disney characters they love. Disney has enormous potential to do good here. They have the reach to be a leader as a media content creator who recognizes the pitfalls girls face in so much of our media and stay committed to doing better. They can have princesses and adventurous girls, sparkles and spunk. There are many ways to be a girl.
What do your children have to say to Disney? If you printed off this image for them and they colored or wrote on it, what would they say about Merida and other strong girls they want to see?
What if we told our children that instead of a corporation being “evil”, we described it as a bunch of moms, dads, uncles, grandmas and neighbors who work at a big company and they should probably know what kids have to say about wanting to see strong girls. And that maybe these adults care a lot about kids, but maybe they need to learn more about what these issues around girls are really all about.
What if instead of attacking Disney, we try to have a conversation with them (even if we are really upset) and express our point of view in a calm and positive way?
I’d love for you to share this image around your communities and friend circles. If your child writes/colors a statement to Disney about why they want strong heroines like Merida, please share it with us, I will happily create a gallery on the blog.
Letters can be sent to Disney at:
Disney Enterprises Inc
Attn: Board of Directors
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Disney Consumer Products
1201 Flower Street
Glendale, CA 91201
or Disney Consumer Products firstname.lastname@example.org