Disney must create a ‘disabled princess’: Woman starts online petition to garner support
23-year-old Hannah Diviney, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, hopes the Walt Disney Company will create a princess character with a disability for all to see.
And she’s spearheading a campaign that has so far received support from Reese Witherspoon, Jameela Jamil and Mark Hamill, according to Reuters.
Diviney of Sydney, Australia, said she believes her life, and her journey to self-love and acceptance, would have been very different had she seen positive portrayals of people with disabilities in films during her childhood, Reuters said.
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“The campaign is actually meant to create a disabled Disney princess and the reason for that is specifically because Disney princesses are the ones who get the most visibility,” Diviney told Reuters in an interview.
She continued, “You see her on the bedspreads and the toys and the books and the birthday parties and the Halloween costumes and stuff.”
She also said, “So [I] actually wanted to go for maximum visibility with my choice there.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Hannah Diviney for comment.
She said in an email response on Friday, March 3, “This campaign is the transformation of a childhood dream into something tangible and real.”
She added: “Representation is important to me because I never had it – and in 2023 I no longer think that’s good enough.”
On her website, she writes that “having a physical disability… affects my fine and gross motor skills. It means I use a wheelchair to navigate the world.”
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She also notes in a message addressed directly to Disney, “I am writing you this message as a young woman who has always loved Disney movies but never saw herself in them.”
“You would also provide a powerful reference point for non-disabled children to understand us and our lives.”
She continued in the post: “Creating a disabled princess (we know how influential those characters are) would give millions of children around the world the invaluable opportunity to see themselves having adventures, living a rich and full life and to be the hero of their own stories. You would work to dispel the painful idea that many children unconsciously take in life with a disability, must mean a life without joy, adventure, friendship or love.”
She adds: “In addition, you would also provide a powerful point of reference for non-disabled children to understand us and our lives. You would actively create a culture of tolerance, acceptance, empathy and understanding to overcome fear, confusion and the seeds of intolerance. which are often unconsciously sown when confronted with something else that is difficult to understand.”
Petition has so far 64,000 signatures
Diviney began an online campaign for Disney in 2020 to create a princess character with a disability, Reuters reported.
This petition has received 64,000 signatures to date.
According to the campaign, she is aiming for at least 75,000.
She said it was hard growing up and feeling different from the other kids.
The 23-year-old, who is an editor for an online women’s news platform and recently starred in an Australian TV series called “Latecomers,” said it was hard for her growing up feeling different from other kids.
Last year, Diviney called out Beyoncé and Lizzo on Twitter for using “spaz,” a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, in their songs.
Both artists later removed the offending slur after Diviney’s tweets went viral — and re-recorded the songs, Reuters reported.
On her website, Hannay Diviney describes herself as a “leading writer, disability and women’s rights advocate in Sydney, Australia.”
Cerebral palsy explained
Cerebral Palsy (CP) affects an individual’s ability to move and maintain posture.
It refers to a group of disorders that affect the functions of the brain and nervous system, including muscle tone, motor skills, cognitive functioning, vision, hearing and speech.
It’s a lifelong disability with no cure, as Fox News Digital previously reported.
Symptoms are often noticed between birth and age three because children with cerebral palsy often miss important developmental milestones.
Damage to the brain often occurs while a child is still in the womb.
However, the injuries can occur during childbirth or in the early stages of brain development after birth.
Parents and doctors usually notice the signs and symptoms between birth and age three, because children with cerebral palsy often miss important developmental milestones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, on average, one in 345 children in the US has the condition.
Children with CP may be taught in a general education classroom or a special education classroom, depending on individual needs.
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Children often receive occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy through early intervention services and throughout their school years.
The most common type of CP spastic diplegia, which is what Diviney has, Reuters noted.
“‘Spaz’ has been popularized as a kind of slur or cultural abbreviation to mean someone is out of control or unintelligent or not in control of their emotions,” she said.
“It was definitely a word that kids use in the playground, sometimes against me, sometimes around me,” she told Reuters.
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Reuters contributed reporting to this article.