She called the makeover a "blatantly sexist marketing move based on money," the Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal reported.
Now, Hollywood has had beautiful and tough heroines since movies were invented. Think back to Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis and Lauren Bacall, who could reduce Humphrey Bogart to a simpering puppy with a purse of the lips.
These days, we have Holly Hunter, Halle Berry and Jodie Foster, who tracked down and killed the monstrous murderer in "Silence of the Lambs." And as disheveled and desperate as they were, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis proved unforgettable in "Thelma and Louise" as they sailed that Thunderbird off a desert cliff.
(A side note: Some news reports have said "Brave" offers Disney's first legitimate heroine. They forget 1998's "Mulan," in which a young woman takes her ailing father's place in China's army by cross-dressing as a soldier. In the end, she thwarts the evil Huns and gets the guy.)
But as a longtime fan of Disney's animated films, I found "Brave" to be bolder than any of its predecessors. I saw it in December, when our family huddled around the TV and was mesmerized. Merida who at one point inadvertently turns her mother into a bear has the courage to stand up to her parents, would-be suitors, creepy will-o'-the-wisps, a witch and the bear that does, in fact, turn back into mom.
But back to the makeover.
Merida is beautiful as she is, with her sturdy frame, wild red hair and intensity of purpose. She's not Hollywood beautiful, as many of those actors I mentioned above. She's better than that, because despite the fact that she's a cartoon character, girls and women can believe we're that way, too.
Merida the Princess Chapman calls her "sexed up" will take her place among the coquettes that Disney has specialized in since its 1937 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Even poor Mulan, who saved not just a day but a dynasty, is among their ranks.
Disney reportedly said earlier this week that it was reverting to the original Merida on its website. But, as The Washington Post reported Friday, you can still find images of the made-over Merida on Target's website.
In a way, the furor over Merida's makeover bespeaks the progress we've made through the years it's the first animated Disney film to feature an independent woman who actually triumphs on her own terms. It's also abundantly clear that girls, women and men will not accept a tarted-up version of an honest-to-god heroine.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @Peg McEntee.