Jolie v Merida (Disney Princess Upgrade Version!)

The Dolphin's Brain By The Dolphin's Brain, 15th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Celebrities>Hollywood

Would you rather your daughter be an admirer of Angelina Jolie or Disney?

Life's Little Ironies

Irony is lost on many people, but for me, it rears its head frequently, and never more interestingly than this week.

As is my usual practice, before checking my online email accounts, I glanced through the trending news. Almost side by side were two very contrasting stories. The first was the startling revelation of Angelina Jolie's elective double mastectomy; the second a link to the response from the creator of 'Merida', animated heroine, to the alleged 'sexing-up' of the character by Disney in her transformation to 'princess' status.

How To Make A Princess

The allegation by Brenda Chapman, writer and co-director of Brave, in which Merida 'stars' as the main character, is that Disney, in making the bow-and-arrow wielding heroine one of its 'Disney Princesses', has unashamedly tried to give her a sexier look. This, of course, is denied by Disney, but interesting comparison pictures can be found on many sites (here, for example). What would seem noticeable is that the Disney 'upgrade model' has a much narrower waist and Chapman's main complaint is that Disney have attempted to make Merida skinnier and sexier and, in the process, have undermined the positive message of the sportier more 'average' original; the message that there is more than one 'image' of womanhood that is acceptable.

Breast Is Best?

Contrast the message sent by Jolie's recent actions. Jolie, famous actress, noted for her skills but also for her stunning figure and, yes, sensational, spectacular breasts, has opted to have them removed. By doing so, she is saying, 'I am more than my body. I am not solely defined by how I look. I am not a stereotype.'

This, perhaps, has the flavour of irony all by itself, given that Hollywood could be accused of being the epitome of the glorification of form over substance, but that is of less significance, perhaps, than the overall message her choice sends out.

I am neither woman nor psychologist, but the removal of a woman's breasts is likely to have deep psychological implications. Irrespective of any feminist arguments around objectification, breasts are quintessentially female and central to what, if not who, a woman is. Agree with her or not, her decision to proactively seek to prolong her own life for the sake of herself and her family, is one deserving of respect, support and understanding. I wouldn't have the balls myself!

A Role Model for The Times?

The film industry objectifies women, no doubt. It does the same to men, to a certain, if different, extent. Brad Pitt himself is a prime example. But it is not alone; objectification, in some ways, is fundamental to the process of attraction. We all of us engage in it frequently and those who deny this do not truly understand themselves. (I have a lesbian friend, for example, for whom Jolie has always been her pin-up of choice, glorifying her body and her physical attributes, much as many men have done.) The essential point is that a human being is not only about how she or he looks on the outside, but about who he or she is inside.

In this regard, I would much rather my daughters take their 'role models' from somewhere other than the ranks of Disney Princesses. Angelina might not be a bad place to start.

© The Dolphin’s Brain 2013


Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Breast Cancer, Celebrity, Disney, Image, Merida, Objectification, Stereotypes

Meet the author

author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
I am a mixed bag of lawyer, vegan, environmentalist and sports nut and my writing is likely to be passionate, of-the-moment articles on a wide variety of topics. I also write the occasional poem!

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