The sexy Merida transformation sparked outrage, and now it has sparked something positive. Activists in the fight against sexualization of girls have formed the Brave Girls Alliance to work for healthy media images and messages for girls.
The Disney movie Brave, featuring Merida, was a departure from the usual Disney fare for girls – it featured a strong, independent young woman whose ultimate goal was not marriage. (What?! That’s what every girl dreams of constantly!) She was a skilled archer who wanted to have adventures and bravely faces a scary bear.
When Disney decided to induct her into its insipid princess pantheon with a pastel sex kitten makeover, the backlash was swift and broad. A petition protesting this Merida imposter got quite a lot of signatures – nearly half a million. Disney pretended to ignore the whole thing, but removed the new image from its site.
Brave Girls Alliance leaders Inês Almeida and Melissa Wardy run businesses that seek to offer positive alternatives in a mainstream media and marketing world that has overwhelmed us with a version of girlhood that focuses on physical attractiveness as almost the only value girls have to offer. They say they have seen a recent increase in consumer demand for more empowering, positive products and media. (Links to their businesses are on the site and here: Toward the Stars, Pigtail Pals)
“The Brave Girls Alliance is a powerhouse think tank and advocacy group of the all-stars in the girl power space to aggregate our communities and our voices so that corporations, media creators, and retailers can understand how mainstream our message is,” Ms. Wardy said upon launch of the group’s website Monday.
These two dynamos in girl-culture-land came to realize that protesting alone isn’t necessarily going to result in large corporations and media producers creating the kind of media they want to see – which recognizes girls as “whole, complex people and not as gender stereotypes.” So they brought together this initial founding group of 18 organizations, businesses, and individuals.
The plan, said Ms. Almeida, is to “engage in a proactive, constructive and future-driven discussion with media producers, retailers and large corporations, helping them make sense of this new world and to create better media, toys and apparel. Everyone wins.”
The group’s first campaign will be to encourage LEGO to create a line of products with female minifigures engaging in jobs such as scientist, judge, zookeeper and welder.
Find them on Twitter with the #BraveGirlsWant hashtag.
It’s more proof that we don’t have to passively accept the corporate-driven messages shoveled out by the ton.
Meanwhile, in other social action news, the group behind the campaign to rid Facebook of rape jokes, plans to launch one new campaign a month. One campaign a month against sexist media? Why at that rate, they’ll have the whole problem wrapped up in no time – maybe even within this century.
What are your plans to take action for better media?