Many little kids, at one point or another, have wanted to be a Disney Princess. We grew up watching Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan and others teach us that it’s okay to be brave, strong-willed, vulnerable and fiercely independent, and as the times have changed, the brand’s Princesses have adapted to become more culturally diverse. But there is one kind of Disney Princess we’ve never seen: one with special needs.
Keston Ott-Dahl and her wife Andrea are mothers to a 5-year-old girl named Delaney who has Down Syndrome. Delaney also loves Disney Princesses. The moms have started a petition to encourage Disney to create a character with special needs that children can look up to. While the moms make it clear they’re not necessarily asking for a Princess with Down Syndrome, they hope to soon see some kind of character that can be a positive representation of someone with special needs.
An excerpt from Ott-Dahl’s petition explains the benefits in creating such a character:
“Disney does a great job of depicting right from wrong. It has long providing wonderful moral lessons that teach our children to be good people — but sadly, the company comes up short in one critical area. Its movies have almost no representation of disabled people, those often bullied and looked down upon by their fellow children. What wonderful lessons of diversity, compassion, and acceptance Disney could teach our kids if they promoted disabled characters as heroes and heroines in their beloved movies!
I happen to think the addition of a Princess with special needs would be a wonderful way for Disney to further celebrate the differences among us. Disney has always put their Princesses on a pedestal: they’re strikingly beautiful, graceful, elegant, smart and spunky. People with special needs, who feel and dream just like everyone else, also deserve to feel that way.
“As Disney portrays people [with Down syndrome], they can teach future generations to be more compassionate and more accepting and unjudgmental of kids who are not like them,” Ott-Dahl said.