It was an unreal experience to not only be present for the coronation of Merida into the princess court, but to be as close as I was. I could smell her horse, I could have touched her hair, she smiled and waved right at me. I sent my excitement out in photos form to my friends on social media and that’s when the disappointment started to bubble.
“So wish they had not changed her look the way they did.”
“So perturbed by this.”
“My husband and I had JUST had a conversation about how we were glad the princesses of our daughter’s day were more empowered than those of our youth. The next day the new images of her came out and I puked.”
I turned to my trusty and loyal friend Google to find out where all this hatred was coming from. Through various conversations the VP of external communications of Disney Consumer Products explained:
“Disney may use variations on this artwork, in a very limited way, in product collections. It may be used outside of Target – they don’t want to say that it won’t. But the keyword is ‘limited use’ – this is not ‘canonical’ Merida; it’s a secondary, fancified iteration of her that will only be used in very limited (and product-specific) ways. And yes, it’s only been used by Target at this point.”
In essence Merida got a fancy for her coronation, and who wouldn’t? You only get to become a princess once. I quickly went back to my friends and followers on social media and assured them that the Merida I witnessed in the park was as true and accurate to the Merida portrayed in the movie. She rode up (full straddle) on a giant black horse. She climbed off by herself and y’all? The stride she had going up to the front of the stage was as Merida as possible. While the other princesses stood off to the side with gentle bends in their wrists and tugging their hair, Merida marched right up in front of everyone, shouted her hellos and hollered her excitement. The very best part was when she screamed “I AM A PRINCESS!” I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
(photo by Ami)
Can you imagine Cinderella up there screaming? Or even Pocahontas? No. There are no other screaming princesses.
As all eleven princesses stood side by side in front of everyone nothing about Merida was untrue to her character. She stood tall and straight with her bow in her hands and a smile on her face. While the other princesses did what we typically think of as princess-y, little waves, blowing kisses and twirling, Merdia was having none of it. While the other princesses glided off the stage, Merida strode away with all the confidence in the world.
I continued to pay close attention to the merchandise throughout the park, I never saw anything that didn’t stay true to the original Merida. Every package, every shirt and every trinket showed the face of Merida we all fell in love with. Disney didn’t mess with Merida, an artist somewhere messed with Merida and in so doing messed with a lot of y’all. Someone once over-photoshopped a photo of me so much it still makes me angry when I think about it. How dare someone else decide what about me isn’t good enough or what needs to be changed! But that photo was certainly not representative of everything I am or everything I stand for. I am still me, despite the airbrushed and fake photos of me that may exist. (This is where I digress and allow my true Disney nerd show, Merida IS real, the Merida that showed up at her coronation? That WAS Merida. Minnie and Mickey are also just as real, say they’re people in costumes and I’ll pinch you. Magic is as real as you believe it to be, and I believe in all of it.)
Merida is still very much Merida, and will stay Merida forever. From the bow, to the horse, to the hair — Merida’s true spirit will never, ever be diminished by a single image.
Read Catherine’s post here.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.