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The Change.org Petition Against A Disney Princess Highlights Everything That’s Wrong With Change.org

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51fYDHlIUaLI 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.

(photo: Amazon.com)

18 Comments

  1. Blueathena623

    May 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Can’t really comment on change.org, but maybe the company changed merida’s proportions because thats the plastic mold they have. With the exception of the heads and skin tones, all the princess dolls are the same size, right?

    • Guerrilla Mom

      May 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Are they really? I didn’t know that!

    • Andrea

      May 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Yeah they are. Take off the clothes and the heads: they all look exactly the same.

    • Andy

      May 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Actually, Merida is shaped differently than the other Disney princess dolls. My daughter loves to strip her dolls (it’s a three year old thing) and the legs and waist on Merida are bigger than on her other dolls. I actually like this-it’s a bit more realistic.

    • KatDuck

      May 14, 2013 at 2:09 am

      Things you learn! I have the pictured Merida doll on a shelf (what can I say, I have a weakness for dolls with weapons) but haven’t pulled her out of her box to compare her body. Sure, she’s not exactly like from the movie but I’m quite certain that the manufacturers had to make compromises between the movie version and production limitations and I think they did a good job of it in the end. And she still has her bow. That counts for a lot.

    • Tea

      May 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      It saves money on casting/sewing patterns, a lot of companies do it

    • whiteroses

      May 12, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      If you look at old-school American Girl dolls, they all have the same facial features. The only difference is skin tone, eye color, and hair color/texture. They still might have the same features- I don’t know.

    • KatDuck

      May 14, 2013 at 2:06 am

      They have a few different molds now to better cover different races, but in general each mold is used for a number of different girls both historical and modern. I THINK Addy was the first to get a new mold, followed by Kaya and Josephina, but I could be wrong.

  2. Cee

    May 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I think are are correct about Change.org. It is turning into firstworldproblems.org. At a time I did sign a few petitions, such as the one of Savannah Dietrich who faced jail time for revealing her rapists names after she was forced not to, as well as a few regarding LGBTQ rights, naturally. But, at times it seems to want signatures for really dumb things. Should Disney change Merida back? Sure. Will they? Probably not. Like you said, this is where parents come in and teach their children valuable lessons. This is not a cause I would sign a petition that will change the world, really. It may satisfy a few freaked out parents, but I will save my signatures and outrage to things that really hurt the world.

  3. Catherine

    May 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Psst, Fiona is an orgre, not a troll

    • faifai

      May 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      And ogres have layers! Like onions!

    • Catherine

      May 12, 2013 at 6:49 am

      But everyone likes parfait.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      May 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      She IS an ogre! Damnit! Troll didn’t sound right in my head – but I went with it for some reason.

    • G.S.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      If it helps at all, there ARE dubs of Shrek where they call Shrek and Fiona trolls instead of ogres, so you’re KINDA right? And trolls and ogres have been used interchangeably in folklore since forever.

  4. JP

    May 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    If parents have to battle companies like Disney to ensure that their daughters don’t develop unrealistic expectations in terms of body image, then Disney doesn’t deserve their money.

    • Amber

      May 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      If parents are passing the responsibility of their daughters’ body image problems to a huge corporation instead of taking a good hard look at their own home then they are crappy parents.

    • Laura

      May 14, 2013 at 2:05 am

      Clearly, you clearly have no children.

  5. keelhaulrose

    May 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    My daughter hates the new Meridah version, and Meridah is her favorite princess (they have the same hair, and this is important to a five year old). She thinks the new one is too girly and should have her bow. Simple solution- I won’t buy her anything with the new version. It’s not like the movie magically changed.

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