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‘Sexy Merida’ Pulled by Disney After Backlash

Kara Warner
Movie Talk
May 15, 2013

Well that didn't take long. After an almost instantly negative online reaction to Disney's revamped and clearly more "sexy" version of "Brave" princess Merida, the Mouse House has bowed to the public backlash and pulled the revamped young lady from its Disney Princesses website and replaced it with the original version from the Pixar movie.

Feminist-leaning Gawker Media website Jezebel noticed the quiet removal of "sexy Merida," the makeover for which was originally intended to be part of a celebration for the princess' "coronation ceremony" last week.

The backlash to Merida's makeover, which included a slimmer figure, a slightly more full bust, less-wild curly hair and a clearly made-up face, was swift. It sparked a petition on Change.org which asked Disney CEO Bob Iger to keep Merida more empowering and legitimately "Brave."

"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," the petition read, which now has nearly 200,000 signatures.

Even the film's director entered the anti-makeover fray and told the Marin Independent Journal that the character's redesign was "a blatantly sexist marketing move based on money."

Yahoo! Movies also spoke with two childhood development specialists who were less-than-enthusiastic about the message Disney was sending with their revamped Merida.

"This one character may not do any damage to a girl's psychological development, per se," said Dr. Robyn Silverman. "But Merida joins a barrage of thin, sultry characters for girls, making her yet another facet of our sexed-up, thinned down messaging."

Childhood development and behavior specialist Betsy Brown Braun also weighed in, pointing out that the film's target audience, kids aged 5-10, is a demographic in which experts first see body image issues develop.

"We're seeing body image issues with children as young as 7 years old -- young children who say they're on a diet or that they think they're fat," said Braun. "There's a lot of data showing that children that age already identify with a saucy, sexy image."

Disney has yet to release any official statement on the matter, but the quiet removal of revamped Merida is a very positive step in the right direction given the intense and passionate response the character's makeover instantly received.

See Merida in the "Brave" theatrical trailer...