Recently, she was crowned the 11th Princess in Disney's line-up of royalty, and like all celebrity make-overs for a big event, Merida received enhanced curves, lengthened eyelashes, sparkled eyes, softer eyes and stylized hair. She was also de-bowed; the weapon used throughout her story was stripped from her for her Princess Portrait (click here for an image from The Guardian with the before and after). Why? Princesses, and therefore value in this marketing strategy, are only derived from beauty and can't involve anything but being beautiful once crowned.
Surprisingly, and thankfully, only days after her coronation, Disney reversed Merida's extreme makeover. Due to an overwhelming response from parents who voiced outrage over this emphasis on physical appearance, Disney re-instituted the real Merida sans airbrushing, surgery, botox, make-up and other appearance enhancing techniques. In doing so, Disney displayed immense courage in also re-instituting why so many young girls were attracted to Merida:
Beauty emanates from within.
As the father of two daughters, I feel I have the incredible responsibility of teaching them what is beautiful. I have the task of doting on them not just because of what they look like but instead for who they are. I must allow them to be than just pretty and do more than just need saved. I must show them a future that for them could entail, potentially, more than just being pretty - especially in finding value in how pretty the world says that they are (check out this letter a father wrote to his daughter about her future husband: letter). I must teach them that God created them fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully. I need to guide them to give their hearts to Jesus so that any man who hopes to win them must go to Jesus first...and then me.
I do this each and every day in every interaction with them, my wife, and any other woman in my life. I'm blessed to have the most incredible and incredibly beautiful wife in the world. The way that I show Emily my love paints a very detailed picture as to how my daughters will view love in their own lives. Emily sets the example of womanhood. I add the detail of how a woman is to be loved, treated and valued. I must show my daughters that Emily stands holding my hand next to me, not sitting behind me. I must show them that true womanhood is more than a pretty face.
My daughters are beautiful. As a father, my willingness to show them affection and attention will significantly impact their future understandings of beauty and love. Studies prove that their relationship with me, their father, will dictate their propensity to engage in pre-marital sex, eating disorders and drug use. It will determine their self-esteem, body image and self-worth. It will hopefully make them courageous enough to live in a world that defines and sees beauty with a different definition and through a different lens. Prayerfully, my relationship with them will make them brave enough to understand that they aren't loved because they're beautiful but rather they are beautiful because they are loved.
By me. By my wife. But most importantly by God.