Brenda Chapman talks to CNN about Merida's sexy makeover

Brenda Chapman is the academy award winner, creator and co-director for Disney's global box office animated hit film Brave.

Recently Disney announced that Brave's main character Merida would be made into Disney's 11th princess. Disney gave Merida a makeover that some claim is too sexy for the character that is known for being the antithesis of the stereotypical Disney Princess.

Chapman says she was 'a bit appalled' when she saw what Disney did to Merida. She feels that Disney 'has completely lost sight of the character in this new design."

Chapman has signed an online petition that has already received over 120,000 signatures.


BERMAN: Merida who was supposed to be a different kind of Princess and this morning, a new controversy, swirling around this popular Disney Pixar movie, the movie is "Brave". And the film star Merida was hailed as an empowering Disney princess and really a role model for young girls.

ROMANS: But the spunky heroine has undergone an extreme makeover now appearing thinner and more glamorous. The transformation has left many fans angry and outrage over this makeover has gone viral. With an online petition garnering more than 120,000 signatures.

One of those signatures belongs to the creator and director of "Brave". Oscar winner Brenda Chapman and she joins us now. Good morning.


ROMANS: You know, you won an academy award for co-directing this film. You know this character. You really know this character.


ROMANS: And you know the main character was inspired by your own daughter. So it's also pretty personal to you. What do you feel --

CHAPMAN: Yes it is.

ROMANS: -- when you see this new version of this princess who to all of us was supposed to be the anti-princess?

CHAPMAN: I'm a bit appalled actually. I -- I just couldn't believe it when I saw it. It -- it is so not Merida, that it -- that it was kind of shocking to see what they did to her.

BERMAN: So what's going on here do you think? Is Disney just trying to cash in by kind of sexing up this princess?

CHAPMAN: Well I think they've taken -- they've gone through the whole Disney princess line and I think they're just doing standard procedure which in this case was I think a bad choice because Merida is not standard procedure. She's not one of the regular princesses and -- and she was created to be not one of those princesses.

ROMANS: And we're showing the line up right there and you can see her in the middle kind of with a saucy pose I would say, and a lower neckline and a slimmer waist and she looks older. And you know one of --


ROMANS: -- one of her characteristics, Brenda, was that -- sort of a resistance to conventional beauty. She appears in the same kind of dress that her character kind of detested. Right?

CHAPMAN: Exactly. Exactly I mean Merida wouldn't be caught dead looking like that. And I think that's what's angering everyone is that they've -- they've totally lost sight of the character in this new design.

BERMAN: Just let me read -- let me read the statement that Disney released. They said "Merida exemplifies what it means to be a Disney princess through being brave, passionate and confident and she remains the same strong and determined Merida from the movie whose inner qualities have inspired moms and daughters around the world." I'm not sure you agree with that statement, do you?

CHAPMAN: Not at all. I mean if they'd left her looking the way she looked, I would be great. But you know I understand with the toys that they have to -- you know that they don't want to put in a lot more money creating a new body for the doll, so yes she has a Barbie like quality with the dolls.

But this is a drawing what they put out there that's going to be on tons of merchandise. And it doesn't cost that much money to put a little effort into a drawing that portrays the character as who the character is as opposed to this sort of grotesque, you know, sexist sort of depiction of her.

ROMANS: I mean maybe some people will look at it and say she just looks a little older, she looks a little more in line with the other, with the other you know -- I'm playing devil's advocate here -- that a little more in line with some of the other princesses.

Is there anything that you can do, any other actions like a lawsuit? Do you have any standing on merchandising claims, is there anything that you -- that you can do aside from putting your name on the petition?

CHAPMAN: Not really. I mean, I -- unlike live action directors and writers, I don't get a residual check. I'm not whining all the way to the bank as I've been accused of doing. But what -- because there is no check. But really there is nothing I can do but speak out. I have no rights to that character anymore, other than my heart, you know what's in my heart and why, you know, she was inspired by my daughter and by real teenage girls.

BERMAN: Let's leave on a positive note then. What is in your heart? What is the message that you want young kids around the country to take from Merida?

CHAPMAN: That for young girls you don't need a romantic relationship to be complete but that you should be an individual and strive to do what love to do and be who you are and accept who you are. That is Merida's spirit and that's what I was hoping to put forward with -- with this character.

ROMANS: Brenda Chapman it's so nice to meet you. Thanks for coming by this morning.

BERMAN: We appreciate it.

CHAPMAN: Thank you.

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