Disney: Controversial Merida makeover is ‘one-off’

Disney chiefs appear to have made a partial climbdown over the controversial makeover for Scottish princess Merida after claiming it was only a temporary move - to celebrate her coronation.

Merida with other Disney princesses. Picture: Contributed

• Makeover given to Disney character Merida was “one-time stylised version”

• Disney chiefs claim controversy “blown out of proportion”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

• Brave creator Brenda Chapman accuses Disney of smokescreen

Merida in Disney Pixar's Brave. Picture: Contributed

The movie giants have moved to dampen controversy over the slimline, sparkly-dress revamp, claiming the row has been “blown out of proportion”.

They insist a new image circulated around the world was only intended for a limited line of Merida products and was a “one-time stylised version”.

They say a new look for Merida was printed on official invites to her official crowning ceremony as a princess at a ceremony at Disney World at the weekend.

The company has also denied claims that it has removed the new images from its Disney Princess website, insisting they were never there in the first place.

New Merida, left, and right, as she is in Brave

A statement from the company said: “We routinely use different art styles with our characters and this rendition of Merida in her party dress was a special one-time effort to commemorate her coronation. Merida exemplifies what it means to be a Disney Princess through being brave, passionate and confident and she remains the same strong and determined Merida from the movie whose inner qualities have inspired moms and daughters around the world.”

However the Oscar-winning creator of Brave, Brenda Chapman, has accused Disney of trying to create a smokescreen to curb the row over Merida’s new look, claiming Disney are guilty of changing the logo on a can of Coca Cola.

She said: “I am not fooled by this smokescreen. I’ve worked at or with Disney for too many years. My hope for the integrity of Merida’s image is fading again.”

Earlier this week Chapman, who wrote the initial storyline for Brave and was at the helm in the film’s early stages, said Disney should be “ashamed” of themselves for the move to give Merida a more refined look, which will now be used on packaging and merchandising for all goods in the Disney Princesses line.

Merida had been viewed by many female fans as a feminist icon thanks to her defiant behaviour and rebellious attitude. Her new look includes the tidying up of her

fiery tousled hair and a low-cut gown.

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition protesting against Merida’s makeover, branding it a “tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired.” Chapman wrote a letter to her local newspaper in California, the Marin Independent Journal, in which she revealed she had given Bob Iger, president of Walt Disney International, “a piece of my mind”.