Melissa Shang is sick of only being able to buy ‘able bodied’ dolls. She’s in a wheelchair and wants to be able to buy dolls that are just like her.
The adorable 10-year-old is petitioning toy giant Mattel to create a doll with a disability for its hugely popular American Girl range because as Melissa says, “disabled girls are American girls too”.
The petition is on Change.org and is called, “American Girl: Release an American Girl with a disability.”
For once, I don’t want to be invisible or a side character that the main American Girl has to help: I want other girls to know what it’s like to be me, through a disabled American Girl’s story. Disabled girls might be different from normal kids on the outside. They might sit in a wheelchair like I do, or have some other difficulty that other kids don’t have. However, we are the same as other girls on the inside, with the same thoughts and feelings. American Girls are supposed to represent all the girls that make up American history, past and present. That includes disabled girls.
Melissa hoped to gather 10,000 signatures. Within a week, more than five times that many people had signed her petition. Change.org said the campaign is among the top five fastest-growing petitions in the United States on its site.
Melissa suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease which is a condition which causes nerve damage, muscle weakness and decreased muscle size.
Each year American Girl releases a special edition which highlights a theme of endurance for young girls such as community service or overcoming bullying. They are yet to feature a disabled doll.
Mattel has begun to feature dolls of ethnic and racial diversity as well as dolls of different religion. They have even introduced a bald doll for children with hair loss.
Spokeswoman for the company, Julie Parks, told ABC News, "We have a long history of speaking to diversity and making girls feel good about themselves, and this is just another way we are expanding on the idea."
Watch Melissa's plea here.
Is there a specific kind of doll you'd like to see on toy store shelves?