I've been reading some interesting commentary via social media, regarding a petition that was started to request that Disney create an animated princess character with Down syndrome.
You can read more about it here and follow a link within the article if signing the petition is something you have an interest in doing.
They'll be submitting that petition without my signature, but I certainly hold nothing against those wanting to support it.
It just doesn't feel like my fight, for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, I'm not raising princesses at my house. I have two daughters and I want them to be exposed to strong, inspiring women on a regular basis. But we have the good fortune of having those women in our actual day to day lives. Real, living...breathing...actual people. So, I feel pretty good about LC and Effie having positive influences as they grow up, even if they never view another Disney movie again. (Not going to happen, by the way. Wanna watch Frozen for the 2,307th time? Fine by me if it shuts you all up long enough for me to make a meatloaf and scrape this morning's dried oatmeal off the table in time for supper).
I'm also willing to admit I don't want to see what the common stereotypical interpretation of "a girl with Down syndrome" is going to look like. Because I'll bet it still won't look a thing like my oldest daughter. I've seen the dolls made to specifically resemble a child with Down syndrome. And I don't mind telling you I haven't stumbled upon too many that didn't look like a white-skinned Al Roker in a long wig. I feel entitled to form the opinion, since we currently have a "doll with extra chromosomes" in our toy box. She isn't any more likely to be played with by LC than the other dolls in the pile. If she gets picked up at all, it's because she's the only doll with shoes that can be removed to be used as cargo in the girls' wooden train cars.
Another reason I don't feel the need for a Disney princess with Down syndrome is my belief that each of my daughters can already find multiple facets of their personalities reflected in the princesses that currently exist. There are princesses who are wildly devoted to their fathers...a princess frustrated by her inability to speak...a princess who is fearless in battle...a princess who adores her sister...a princess whose nose is always in a book...a princess who is capable of finding something to love in individuals most of society has shunned as unlovable...
If my daughters asked my advice in how to find a kindred spirit in a crowd, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't tell them to look for someone whose eyes are shaped like their own. I'm quite certain I wouldn't tell them to seek out an individual with a nose bridge of similar design or people with hands that have the same type of creases. I'd tell my girls to find someone who laughed at what they laughed at...who loved how they loved...whose mysterious insides were somehow made of similar stuff...whether they were looking to connect with a princess or a preschooler.
I don't think the desire to influence characteristics of an upcoming Disney character is frivolous or small. And I wouldn't be disappointed if they did decide to feature a young lady whose tiara twinkled with the number twenty-one. But, to be honest, if they're going to consider breaking the current mold I'd probably rather see the fiscally responsible princess. Or the princess with a degree in a science or technology field. A princess who wore a size 12 ballgown would be appreciated. And I think a lot of good could come from a princess with a retainer and the complexion everyone else on the face of the earth sported from ages thirteen to twenty.
I'm not holding my breath for any of the models mentioned above to show up in our DVD player anytime soon. And I'm okay with LC never sitting down to a cartoon movie and seeing someone dancing across the screen who shares her genetic makeup. I've never looked up at a Disney princess and seen myself staring back, and I'm okay with her experiencing the same. Neither LC nor Effie can ever grow up to be an animated princess...but there are so many things they are each capable of becoming. Their happily ever afters won't involve too many hoopskirts...no talking woodland creatures (unless they're way more experimental than I was in college)...and they probably won't have their own lines of over-priced, plastic, glittery merchandise. But I'm so grateful I get to have a front row seat to the story of both of their lives. Because I know...whether Disney is interested in producing it or not...those girls of mine are going to put on a damned fine show.