The Change.org Petition Against A Disney Princess Highlights Everything That’s Wrong With Change.org
I like a good protest just as much as the next person, but Change.org is getting out of hand. If I don’t stop receiving petitions from Change.org – I’m going to have to start a petition. The latest one to come to my attention – the petition against Disney’s redesign of Merida from Brave, highlights everything that is annoying about this for-profit online petition generator.
First, let’s talk about Merida. Unsurprisingly, Disney gave her a makeover to look more like a Disney princess. As annoying doll makeovers go, this one doesn’t annoy me as much as most. They seemed to have made her a touch thinner, older and more cartoon-ish. With Disney’s track record on princess design – is anyone surprised?
Seriously, name one frumpy princess. You can’t. Because there isn’t one. Well, except Fiona from Shrek, but that hardly counts because she’s a troll. And Merida wasn’t frumpy before her makeover, either. Disney princesses and dolls tend not to be the best physical role models for young girls. This is where parents come in. It’s our job to explain that dolls aren’t real, and therefore we should never try to look like one. Barbie never gave me a complex. Yes, I never really wanted to play with Skipper – but it’s because she just wasn’t as sophisticated as Barbie. She was a kid. She didn’t have her own dream house. Bor-ing.
I am behind sending body-positive messages to children as much as the next parent – but this redesign doesn’t infuriate me. What does infuriate me is the fact that I get four petitions in my inbox a day because I signed a couple Change.org petitions over the last few years. Do you know why I get incessant messages asking me to sign a petition about everything on the planet? Because that is how Change.org makes their money.
I know it sounds like an idealistic, not-for-profit business model – but it’s not. Change.org is a multi-million dollar business that makes its money by essentially profiling your interests and charging groups to present other petitions that match your interests. From Forbes.com:
Change.org charges groups for the privilege of sponsoring petitions that are matched to users who have similar interests. For example, when a person signs a petition about education and clicks “submit,” a box pops up and shows five sponsored petitions on education to also sign. If a user leaves a box checked that says “Keep me updated on this campaign and others,” the sponsor can then send e-mails directly to that person. It’s not clear from the check box that your e-mail address is being sold to a not-for-profit.
Change.org has had some wonderful accomplishments. It helped a South-African rape victim run the most effective campaign against rape in South African history and forced the parliament to start a national task-force to stop the abuses. That’s amazing. It also helped parents launch a campaign against Nickelodeon to stop their “Nick Mom” programming. Wha? Does it make any sense that these petitions were generated from the same site? I don’t think so. But that’s because anyone can make a Change.org petition about anything.
I guess I’m just saying I like to choose my battles. And if anyone has figured out how to stop Change.org from flooding their inbox with emails – please let me know.