Brenda Chapman is an American writer, animation story artist and director. In 1998, she became the first woman to direct an animated feature from a major studio, DreamWorks Animation’s The Prince of Egypt. She recently co-directed the Pixar film Brave, becoming the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
“Merida was created to be a different kind of princess — a princess with a strong will, a stubborn streak and a lot to learn. She makes mistakes along the way and learns from them. But she is not obsessed with what she wears or focused on looking good to attract a man. She’s a young girl — not remotely ready to think about romance or marriage. That doesn’t mean she never will. That doesn’t mean that those things are bad. It just means that she is an individual who has her own interests. And that’s not bad, either! In fact, that’s exactly the way that children should spend their childhood and adolescence — being kids and pursuing the things that make them happy.
Our children — and adults — are bombarded daily with the message that what you look like is the only thing that really matters. The lesson being taught is that if you’re not beautiful or handsome or perfect in every way, you are not good enough. This is especially the case for young girls, who become obsessed with their weight and looks at much too young of an age. If the issue of Disney changing Merida to be, in their opinion, “more marketable” and the public uproar that has resulted from that bad decision makes people think a bit more deeply about this issue, I think that’s great. And more importantly, I think it’s necessary. The time has come to change these perceptions and if we don’t do all we can to do that, then our children inevitably suffer as a result.
Let’s collectively work to stop sending messages, explicit or implied to our boys, that girls are here just to be eye and arm candy and should only be valued based on their looks. Let’s stop sending messages to our girls that they are the sum of what they look like as opposed to respecting them for their intelligence, their abilities, their skills and their strength. This is how we can help lead girls to achieve positions of leadership, in school, in society, in the workplace. And while this battle may seem insignificant, over a cartoon girl and her appearance, in reality it’s about so much more. And the conversations taking place as a result of this campaign can potentially have a HUGE ripple effect.”
(text adaptation of this Huffingtonpost article)