Disney's remained mum amidst the controversy surrounding the princess-ier "makeover" of Merida from Brave, followed by their subsequent backtrack and quiet return to the original character design on the official princess website.
However, a Babble post by Catherine Connors, blogger and editor in chief of Disney Interactive Family, defends Disney's "coronation outfit" for Merida's induction as the 11th princess. She says it's just the old character design, except "gussied up," and people have worked themselves into a frenzy over a few pieces of concept art and a whole lot of conjecture.
First, because the original Merida hasn’t, actually, been made over: there are a few pieces of iterative artwork out there that were created for the purpose of celebrating her coronation, but these are fancified depictions of Merida, not a new Merida (who in any case is defined by far more important things than what she wears.)
Of course, Connors doesn't mention the apparent Lap Band surgery Merida was given — perhaps the most problematic design decision.
She adds that Disney princesses are meant to have iterations and different personas through clothing: "My daughter is a princess iteration specialist of the highest order: her Cinderellas are astronauts; her Belles are teachers; her Rapunzels are circus performers [...] And as they live and breathe and play and change their clothes, they remain who they are, because who they are is not what they look like."
That image doesn’t represent a ‘new’ Merida replacing an ‘old’ Merida: it’s just another iteration of Merida, who is much, much more than just red curls and a green dress. The gussied up Merida on the coronation invitation is Merida gussied up for one of the most important events of her princess career. That she’s a little more sparkly for the party is not a heresy against her independent and spirited self – I consider myself independent and spirited, and I wore the sparkliest gown that I could find when I got married, because of course I did.
It's nicely written, and Connors makes her point, but still feels like damage control more than anything.