UPDATE, 2:30 PM: Disney is officially staying mum on the controversy that erupted this week over the makeover it gave Pixar‘s Brave heroine Merida to induct her into the Disney Princess fold. But contrary to media reports, a studio source says Disney never placed the slimmed down, more mature 2D Princess Merida design on its websites in the first place. Their actual Merida redesign is also tamer than one making the rounds on blogs (see left), they say, and was created as stylized artwork promoting the character’s Disney “coronation” in an event invite and a Target promotion. They’ll stick to their guns on their new Disneyfied Merida design, which will appear on a limited run of products such as backpacks and sleepwear this summer and fall as planned.
PREVIOUS: Shortly after Disney introduced Brave heroine Merida as a Disney Princess, fans and critics decried a controversial new look for the character that circulated online. A Change.org petition addressed to Disney CEO Bob Iger garnered over 200K signatures. Even director Brenda Chapman, who was replaced by Disney on Brave but won an Academy Award for her contributions to the girl empowerment pic, piled on with her own public denouncement calling the redesign as “a blatantly sexist marketing move based on money.”
It’s not the first time the Disney Princess brand has come under fire in recent years. Last fall’s introduction of Princess Sofia to Disney TV viewers would have marked the first Hispanic Disney Princess in the studio’s history. “She is Latina,” exec producer Jaime Mitchell even confirmed on the record before Disney officials backpedaled. Just last Tuesday the studio similarly backtracked from attempts to trademark the “Dia de los Muertos” Mexican holiday for an upcoming film following another media firestorm. “It has since been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing,” the studio said in an official statement.