I currently have a beef with what Disney has done to its eleven well-known princess icons. Don’t get me wrong; I love Disney with all of my heart. Hell, I even went to Walt Disney World for spring break my senior year of college (I know, I’m super cool). But as of late, I have noticed some princesses have had their cartoon selfs redrawn to look more … adult.
The princesses I have grown up with, come to love and even stood in line for about an hour to meet have suddenly changed. And I personally don’t think it’s a good change.
According to Inside the Magic, a website dedicated to reporting on Disney news, all eleven princesses were given “new hairstyles, makeup and dresses … in a modern update to their looks.” While some of these “updates” are slight, some of the royal ladies look like completely different people.
Certain characters such as Snow White and Rapunzel have only had subtle changes done to them, so they look basically the same, now with sparkly outfits and different tiaras. Other princesses such as Belle, Cinderella and Pocahontas have not only been given new, sparkly dresses, but they look like completely different people.
In the old versions of the princesses, the majority of the girls have some blush on their cheeks, various tiaras or hair accessories, some lipstick and maybe some eyeshadow on some of the girls. That’s about it, not much else. This makes sense as many of the girls are teenagers and don’t necessarily need to be gussied up.
Now, in the modern updates, the eleven princesses have oodles of blush on, new hairstyles, much more jewelry (just take a look at Pocahontas!) and like I said, sparkly new dresses.
Before anyone goes off about how pessimistic I sound, let me say this: I understand this is all about marketing. At 22, I am no longer the audience Disney is aiming these princesses for. There is a new generation of boys and girls growing up and Disney has to market toys, movies, TV shows, video games, etc. to this new generation of fans.
It just really grinds my gears that Disney feels the need to change such classic princesses into more adult-looking ladies for a younger generation.
That being said, let us not forget about the Merida controversy from earlier this year. Back in May, it was announced princess Merida would be getting a makeover before her coronation ceremony making her an official Disney princess. The reasoning behind this, as given in press releases, was since Merida was done in 3D animation in her movie, she needed to be converted to 2D for merchandise.
However, this redesign of Merida got people so upset, there was even a petition made to keep her looking the same. Many people who signed or commented on the petition had the same thought: Merida is an important role model to girls. No, there is nothing wrong with any of the other princesses, but Merida represents a a robust, albeit stubborn, independent girl and many young people admire that.
The redo of Merida included a tinier waist, a completely different shaped face, a lower neckline on her dress, and oodles of makeup. Yahoo! Movies investigated how this redo might affect young viewers, specifically girls. Having spoken to development experts, Yahoo! ruled that the redesign may not harm a young girl’s psychological development, but it will definitely affect a young girl’s self-esteem seeing a character they once loved slimmed down and made up. This can also affect young girls and their views on body image.
The slimmed down Merida never made it to Disney’s website. Disney spokespeople said the makeover was done for Merida’s coronation and to allow for more easily created products based on her 2D design instead of her 3D design from Pixar.
While Merida is a separate incident than the makeovers of the other 10 princesses, it still grinds my gears. Again, I understand the need to update characters for a new market of children, but what was wrong with the classics? The “before” princesses are how each girl appears in her respective film and even TV show for some, so why mess with a definitive design?
Regardless of redesigned princesses and the specific controversy over Merida, I will still love Disney and everything the company stands for. While I’m an adult (and I use the term “adult” loosely), I will still enjoy the magic Disney has to offer in films, TV shows and their amusement parks. It does, however, grinds my gears Disney feels the need to give classic characters “modern updates.”