An online petition asking Disney to make its first-ever disabled princess in a movie continues to get more signatures two years after it was created.
The Change.Org petition, titled Create a Disney Princess Disabilities, was started by a Disney female fan named Hannah Diviney, a 23-year-old writer and disability advocate. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was born, Diviney uses a wheelchair to navigate through the world.
For those who are not familiar, cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood.
Why does Hannah Diviney want to see a disabled princess?
In an open letter to Disney, which serves as the description of the online petition she started, Diviney shared that she has always loved Disney movies but she has never seen herself in them. This was what pushed her to create the petition, which, if granted, will benefit not only children with disabilities but also non-disabled kids.
“Creating a disabled princess (we know how influential those characters are) would give millions of children around the world the invaluable chance to see themselves having adventures, rich full lives, and being the hero of their own stories,” Diviney explained. “You’d [Disney] be working to dispel the painful idea that many children subconsciously absorb life with a disability has to mean a life without joy, adventure, friendship or love.”
Diviney went on to say that by introducing a disabled princess in a movie, Disney would also be “providing a powerful reference point for non-disabled children” to understand the lives of people with disabilities. Diviney wrote that a disabled princess from Disney will help create “a culture of tolerance, acceptance, empathy, and understanding,” which, in turn, will “replace fear, confusion and the seeds of bigotry that are often unconsciously sowed” when people are confronted with something different that is difficult to understand.
How many signatories does the disabled princess petition have?
As of March 7th, 2023, the online petition has already earned over 64,700 signatories. According to DisneyDining.com, celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Jameela Jamil, and Mark Hamill have all shown their support for the cause.
Speechless TV series
Although Disney has yet to create a disabled princess in a movie, the entertainment giant has already produced a TV series starring an actor diagnosed with cerebral palsy. That TV show is called Speechless.
A co-production between Silver and Gold Productions, The Detective Agency, ABC Signature, and 20th Television, Speechless follows the DiMeo family, each with a unique personality: Maya (Minnie Driver), a take-charge British mother with a no-holds-barred attitude; her husband Jimmy (John Ross Bowie), who does not seem to care what others think; Dylan (Kyla Kennedy), their no-nonsense athletic daughter; Ray (Mason Cook), their scholarly middle child who acts as the “voice of reason” in the family; and their oldest son, JJ (Micah Fowler) — a high schooler who has a biting wit and sense of humor and is diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Fowler, who has cerebral palsy in real life, is an ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.
Speechless aired on ABC for three seasons from 2016 to 2019.
Hannah Diviney in Latecomers
Aside from pushing Disney to make a disabled princess, Hannah Diviney has also been involved in other projects that promote the representation of people with disability in media. In fact, Diviney is one of the main cast members of the Australian web series Latecomers.
Launched in December 2022, Latecomers centers on Frank (Angus Thompson) and Sarah (Hannah Diviney, two strangers with cerebral palsy who become entrenched in each other’s dysfunctional lives after witnessing their able-bodied friends hook up at a bar.