Brave‘s Merida is one of the few Disney princesses—along with Mulan—who gets to be physically active, and really the only one with a physique to match her love of riding horses, shooting things, and her ability to stand up to a bear. But Disney, as it’s done to other women in the official Disney Princess pantheon, decided that to mark her inclusion, Merida needed a new dress that was off-the-shoulder, and a belt instead of a quiver for her arrows. Unlike the other Disney Princesses, it also decided that she needed to get a lot skinnier for the occasion.
The website Disney debuted as a portal for Merida merchandise seems to be sticking with the original design for Merida, kinky red hair, forest-green dress, and bow ready to fire, a move that some advocates are claiming as a victory. But the products themselves seem to be a mix of Merida ready for action—at least holding on to her bow, as in this nightshirt—and Merida in party-wear, as on this mug. Change.org petitions may feel good, but it’s hard to get a big corporation like Disney to junk an entire product line on a moment’s notice.
But hopefully, as Disney considers the reaction to the Merida art that circulated, and as they consider how to make even more money out of the Brave universe, Disney could consider that dresses and princess crowns aren’t the only things that you could sell to little girls through their parents. Get into the archery sets game. Get into weaving kits, even. If “princess” is a title you can give Native American advocates, Chinese warriors, and Scottish tomboys, then the things princesses can do don’t have to be limited to going to parties.