Delaney Ott-Dahl is only 16 months old but she is already fascinated by Disney princesses. And who wouldn't be? They're beautiful, they're glamorous and they sometimes have fins! But Delaney has Down Syndrome and her moms want her to grow up in a world where Disney Princesses look like her. So they're asking Disney for help.
Keston Ott-Dahl and her wife Andrea love Disney and are encouraging the company to take a stand by providing children with special needs a character that they can look up to. And while a princess with Down Syndrome wouldn't be someone everyone in the special needs community could relate to (and I hesitate to call everyone with special needs a member of a "community"), the couple believe it's a start. The princess would not only be someone that children with Down Syndrome could look on as a positive representation of someone with special needs in the media, but she could be a symbol that states that those with special needs can also be princesses and fairies and whatever other creatures Disney can come up with.
Ott Dahl's petition isn't a demand. She compliments Disney on presenting characters of all ethnicities and backgrounds and the lessons the movies impart on children (Murder your relatives for fun and profit! - The Lion King). But like Ariel, Ott-Dahl wants moooooooore.
From her petition:
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!
That does sound great, in theory. In theory, a princess with cancer (something that readers over at The Orlando Sentinel are worried might.come.next.) would also make an excellent heroine in a Disney film. However — and you can call me cynical here — Disney's main concern has a lot more to do with the bottom line than it does with the lessons it imparts (I haven't yet met one small child who understands more about Frozen than the fact that "Let It Go" is the best song ever) which raises the question of how many people would actually go see such a movie. (Which is sad, but also true.)
The petition, which has raised more than 40,000 signatures, is available here and coincides with the fact that October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Disney has yet to comment.
Image via The Petition Site