I’m on a one women mission to change the world. More specifically I’m on a one woman mission to see a Disney Princess with a physical disability created in my lifetime. I want the works, the singing animals, the glittery dress, the enchanted spell and a song that will knock “Let it Go” out of my head.
Some of my cultural counterparts are shaking their heads at me. For many, the entire institution of Disney has to come down. For too long it has stood as a barrier to female empowerment. It has acted as a vehicle for America’s bias and created an impossible of ideal of relationships. And while that might be true, we already have those biases and flaws built within us. Disney just figured out how to use those biases to make a quid.
Disney isn’t going anywhere for a while and so… my attitude is if you can’t be them, join ‘em.
In recent years Disney has begun to actively rework it’s own tropes to create new aspirations for girls in our society. Perhaps the company recognises its own responsibility in creating figures young girls will admire; women who aspire to do more than walk down the aisle after knowing a guy for an hour, or perhaps Disney is waking up to the fact that these fairy tales say more than what they seem on the surface. Perhaps they just want to tell a good story. Regardless things are changing.
But the problem is, finding a fairytale or a myth that features a beautiful disabled princess is really hard. See all of the cultures, races, and religions, have their own stories, so we know where to pull the book from from if we want a princess from Asia, or the Middle East. Being disabled however (and a disabled woman at that!) puts you at a massive disadvantage regardless of what culture you are in. Why would a story about someone like that be passed down?
So a new story will have to be told if there ever to be a Disney princess with a disability. The responsibility therefore once again falls upon the writer to follow the traditional rules of storytelling to make a plot that all little girls want to be a part of. Pixar was able to do it with Brave. We will need to think the most dramatic and captivating situation for a disabled girl to find herself in and from there give, her everything a storybook princess needs to be endowed with on her journey. In turn, we will give our girls with disabilities the same.
Why am I so passionate about seeing a Disney princess with a disability in my lifetime? Because I know what it is like to grown up without a princess who is like you. I am passionate about ensuring that will be the last generation of disabled children who grow up without seeing themselves reflected in mainstream media. Once we see a Disney princess who sits in a wheelchair as her throne with joy, confidence, and love. I’ll believe we will had made it. I think like all other barriers, this too will crumble. It’s only a matter of time.