Melissa Shang with the help of her older sister has petitioned American Girl to release a doll that depicts a disability. The 10-year old girl was born with Charcot-Marie-Tooth, an incurable disease that affects the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. The question in many peoples’ mind is whether the sisters will succeed. If they succeed, they will make history to have advocated for the first ever American Girl doll with a disability.
The American Girl is a company that has a lot of influence on girls with its collectible line of dolls, books, magazines and movies which celebrate girls of all ethnicities. The dolls represent different ethnicities, and hence are created with a beautiful story woven around the character and is sold with a book to allure the readers.
Like most girls of her age, Melissa fell in love with American Girl. She is a diehard fan who reads all their books, watches all their movies; and on every Christmas asks for the American Girl doll.
The favorite dolls of Melissa are the Girl of the Year characters. The Girl of the Year is a contemporary girl that epitomizes the experiences, challenges and interests of real girls of today. Through some of her favorite characters, she has experienced how it feels to be another girl. Character Saige, made her experience what it’s like to be a horseback rider and an artist, while with character McKenna, she experience the life of a gymnast.
Why she wants the Girl of the Year 2015 on a wheelchair
Being born disabled, Melissa knows too well the challenges that girls like her face every day. Some of the activities girls her age engage in are difficult for her, since she is always in a wheelchair. She wants other girls to experience the challenges and her interest through a character in a wheelchair.
For all these years, she has been following the release of the Girl of the Year, always hoping that one day, the character will relate her story and that of all disable girls. She has read and experience how it is like to be other girls through her favorite characters, but none tells her story.
American Girls are supposed to relate the past and present history of America through story of all girls belonging to a diverse range of personalities and backgrounds. However, American Girl has never released a character that tells the story of a disabled girl for other girls to experience the plight of a disabled. Hence, Melissa wonders why disabled girls are excluded.
Her personal plea to American Girl
“Please, American Girl, release a Girl of the Year for 2015 who is in a wheelchair, so that all girls can learn about the difficulty of being born with a disability.” She pleads in her letter to the American Girl president. “Disabled girls are American girls too. They have the same thoughts and feelings, and deserve to have their stories told.” The letter continues.
Melissa may feel that the American Girl have sidelined girls with her challenges, but it’s no doubt that the dolls have empowered her and given her the confidence to fight for a cause she believes in and one that will make a difference.
Whether American Girl will grant the little girl’s request stands to be seen when they release “Girl of the year 2015” or in their subsequent release. You can be part of this noble quest by signing the online petition which currently stands at 112 000 signatures. Don’t just sit back and wonder whether the sisters will succeed, do something about it!