Why Merida Matters: The great makeover debate

Oh snap, this is so perfect.

Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

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My friends and colleagues have written much and well about the Merida redesign by Disney. But others have wondered why it’s a big deal for Merida, the strong and feisty heroine of Disney’s Brave, to get a makeover that brought her into closer alignment with the physical representations of the other Disney Princesses, as shown below. Why does it matter if Merida is standing boldly looking at the audience and holding her bow and arrow or turned sideways, looking over her (much barer!) shoulder with no bow and arrow in sight?

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It matters because people, and advertisers, use body language, facial expressions and head movements to communicate essential traits to others. These Princess poses of looking over the shoulder, eyes looking up, head downward, all communicate submission and passivity. But Merida’s original stance facing forward, shoulders up, holding a bow and arrow communicate assertiveness and action. It’s no use saying…

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