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Brave- redefining princesses

The 1 hour 33 minutes movie, produced by Pixar animation in 2012, is based on the life of an atypical princess who does not wish to abide by the rules set out for her finds herself in a tricky situation- to live life for herself or her family?


Feisty, independent, strong, courageous, unfiltered…Merida is nowhere near your average princess. Her desire to practice archery and ride her horse angus in the highland was what she desired but her royal duties demanded a different Merida. Merdia not subscribing to societal norms in multiple ways is one of the movie’s ways of subverting stereotypes, so viewers are more open to diversity and women’s agency.



With her unkempt hair, frizzy and curly hair, Merida’s hair stands out from the meticulously brushed hair of other Disney princesses and defies preconceived notions of what makes a woman beautiful. One of her curls escapes as her mother's attempts to put it under a bonnet so she can appear proper in front of the clans; Merida cherishes the stubborn curl and pulls it out whenever it is tucked in. Merida's uncontrollable hair reflects her rebellion. Merida also does not have the "airbrushed" appearance of previous princesses and has freckles all over her face that she embraces.


Although she is still slim, she has more proportionate body features than previous princesses, including a slightly protruding tummy and larger hips, and she is not overly sexualized overall.

Merida lacks the delicately refined features that are typically associated with beauty and has a face that is notably rounder. Finally, despite the fact that Merida does wear a dress, she insists that it be loose-fitting for her comfort. She loathes the constricting ladylike attire that is more customary for a princess, and when she is made to wear it, she purposely tears it to give herself more freedom of movement to aim her bow and arrow. Merida appears more like a real young woman overall than a fantasy for men.

Although the movie has its weak points, it is still a great watch from the monotonous theme Disney princess stories and sets out a good example for children as it attempts to subvert stereotypes.

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9 Comments


Aisha Aamir
Aisha Aamir
Jun 22, 2023

Loved your blog! I think Brave was one of the first few stepping stones for Disney movies in taking a more progressive approach to their Princess movies. In that regard, I think they tackled topics like dressing for comfort, different types of hair, and the overall autonomy of the Princess herself very well. If you compare it to modern day animations and how they have started to conform to empowerment and design characters in a more progressive way, it may pale in comparison. But I do think that Brave was the nudge Disney and other animation studios needed to step in that direction. Even the simple allowance of mobility for Merida was something that was truly ahead of its time

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Great read! Brave is one of my favorite movies. It was one of the first in which there was a conscious effort by the creators to show that a princess can be so much more than just the stereotypical representation of "perfection". Merida is complex and wild in the most wonderful ways. I love the way she out-performs all of her potential suitors in a game of archery, just to prove that she can! Another thing that I love is the way they portray the relationship between a mother and daughter: it is so very messy. There's arguments, fights to find some kind of balance in what is best for Merida, there's heartbreak and misunderstandings. And yet, there is still…

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Merida is a brilliant character for young girls to look up to; her body type shows a realistic view of the beauty standards in Medieval Scotland, where the movie is set in. The movie teaches a lot about agency and how the consequences of her agency may have effects on the lives of the people around Merida. However, she decides how she wants to live her life. Merida's relationship with her mother is also an interesting facet to explore, as the movie concludes on her mother accepting that her daughter wants to live an unconventional life. All these decisions and their outcome change the patriarchal norms of the castle that she was raised in which becomes inspirational for young girls…

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SUCH A LOVELY READ! Brave steers away from the stereotypical ideas of princesses and animated royalty films. For starters the color palette of the film deserves a praise. It moves away from the general pink or purple princesses to someone who is confident in wearing green/blue, a color we usually call "boyish." However, I sometimes do question whether that was a way of subverting or rather reinforcing these color associations by the filmmakers. Merida is shown to be strong and "boyish" in a lot of ways and so was the color choice still a way to associate blue with a boy's color. Why couldn't Merida be who she is and do what she want, while wearing a pink, shiny outfit?…


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Khadija Nasir
Khadija Nasir
Jun 17, 2023

This was such a lovely read! You've revived the brave fan in me and I will definetly be watching it again now!

One thing I want to mention after reading your blog was that the thing that made brave special for me. It was the fact that it essentially had no villain. With children's movies, especially Disney films, there is almost always a clear cut villain, an antagonist that drives the storyline to resolution or is the cause of the hero being able to proclaim success. But brave changes that, without a villain it shows how someone can struggle without another being at fault. For me, I think it shows children an introspective narrative. Teaches them how the main character…

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