Disney responds to disability advocate on creating a princess with disability

Posted 1 year ago by Bianca Iovino
Disability advocate Hannah Diviney received a response from Disney to create a princess with disability. [Source: Twitter]
Disability advocate Hannah Diviney received a response from Disney to create a princess with disability. [Source: Twitter]

Film conglomerate Disney has responded to criticism made by Australian disability advocate, Hannah Diviney, about creating a princess who lives with disability.

The young advocate, who lives with cerebral palsy, has campaigned for a Disney princess with a disability to be created for the past few years, after missing out on seeing anyone like herself in entertainment media while she was growing up.

While the film company didn’t respond to Hannah directly, they did provide a statement to the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, after they recognised Hannah’s efforts to convince pop singers, Lizzo and Beyonce, to change ableist lyrics in their songs.

“We love Hannah’s passion and hear her important voice on why inclusive and representative storytelling matters,” a Disney spokesperson told Australian Women’s Weekly.

“As storytellers at Disney, we’re committed to reflecting the incredibly rich diversity of the human experience and in ways that inspire, open minds and hearts and bring people closer together in a world where we all belong.”

Like so many other little girls, Ms Diviney idolised the wonderful world of Disney as a child, and says creating a character with a disability would facilitate a culture of tolerance, acceptance, empathy, and understanding.

Ms Diviney added creating a princess with disability would give millions of children the chance to see themselves represented in film and would work to “dispel the painful idea that many children subconsciously absorb – that life with a disability has to mean a life without joy, adventure, friendship or love”.

“Beyond that, you’d also be providing a powerful reference point for non-disabled children to understand us and our lives,” she says.

Ms Diviney created a petition about the idea, ‘Create a Disney Princess with Disabilities’, which received encouragement from the community.

Over 60,000 signatures have since been accumulated on the petition, with many people reaching out to Ms Diviney to tell her about the difference that seeing themselves or their loved ones reflected in a Disney film would make.

“Regardless of what the end outcome is with Disney, I’m super proud of what this campaign has come to mean to so many people and the countless conversations it’s opened around dinner tables everywhere on representation and why it’s so important,” says Ms Diviney.

“To know that I am not alone in how meaningful this would be is so validating and makes any negative pushback that I or the campaign have gotten well worth it.”

The petition can be signed on the change.org website.