Has Disney Taken the "Sex Sells" Principle Too Far?

by Lexi Novak

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It seems another young starlet has fallen victim to the movie industry machine that chews up pigtail-wearing little girls and spits them out as sexpots. Merida, the fiercely independent computer-animated Scottish heroine of Disney's Brave, has become the company's eleventh princess, and, in the process, she's undergone a controversial makeover.

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A few key details to note: Her already bright blue doe eyes now appear even brighter, even bluer, even doe-ier. And is that black eyeliner we detect rimming her upper lash line? Her trim waist is now so narrow that she must have broken a few ribs or be seriously sucking it in, and her kick-ass bow and arrow have been replaced with an innocuous belted sash. To top it off, Merida's awesomely untamed, frizzy mane has suspiciously been transformed into glossy Victoria's Secret hair. As someone with a head of red curls, I take particular offense at that last change.

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But here's what really bothers me. It's one thing to apply virtual anti-frizz serum to her hair and to throw a little glitter on her dress to make it more princess-y. It's another thing to turn her into a self-consciously sexual girl-woman. It makes me wonder what kind of "weigh less, wear less" messages I absorbed from Jasmine's impossible waist-to-hip ratio or Ariel's Madonna-style seashell "top." Merida's (dropped) neckline may not reveal her cleavage, or her navel, but the fact that Disney felt the need to vamp her up is unsettling. Girls don't need Maxim-ized princesses. They need accessible, realistic role models like pre-makeover Merida.

What do you think about Merida's new look?

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