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PA Girl Petitions American Girl to Create a Doll with a Disability

Melissa Shang, 10, says "disabled girls are American girls too."

Melissa Shang is asking American Girl to create a doll that has a disability.
Melissa Shang is asking American Girl to create a doll that has a disability.
Written by Tim Zatzariny Jr.

Melissa Shang loves American Girl dolls, but she doesn't see herself in them. 

That's why the 10-year-old Paoli, PA resident is petitioning the American Girl brand to name a doll with a disability as its 2015 "Girl of the Year" because "disabled girls are American girls too," she says, the Huffington Post reports

Shang launched a petition on Change.org, titled "American Girl: Release an American Girl with a disability." She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which damages the peripheral nerves, causing muscle weakness and decreased muscle size, according to the Mayo Clinic. She uses a wheelchair.

Shang has been a fan of the American Girl dolls since she was 7 years old, according to the Huffington Post. Her favorites are the "Girl of the Year" dolls, a special edition character that highlights an overarching theme for the year with a back story focusing on a modern-day issue. In the past, these dolls have promoted issues like community service and anti-bullying efforts.

But a doll with a disability has not yet been added to that list.

Melissa's petition states:

"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."

American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel, has made strides in bringing diversity to its products, the Huffington Post reports. Besides selling dolls with a variety of racial, ethnic and religious back stories, last year it introduced bald dolls to represent girls experiencing hair loss, and it began offering "Special Sparkle" accessories like a hearing aid and a guide dog.

“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,” spokeswoman Julie Parks said at the time, according to ABC News

As of Monday evening, Melissa's petition had received nearly 4,500 signatures, about half its goal. 

To see the You Tube video of Melissa making her case, click here.
ray December 31, 2013 at 12:11 PM
You wanna disabled doll? Rip off an arm.
Jane Doe December 31, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Actually, I think it's a great idea. There are so many different American Girls dolls, I think creating one who is disabled and has her own "story" would be to Mattel's credit. If they want to put a historical spin on it, they could create a girl who is stricken with polio, prior to the vaccine being discovered in the 50s, and how she has a full life, complete with adventures, despite her disbility. I mean, why not? We had a president who, from his wheelchair, guided this country through the Great Depression AND WWII.
Jane Doe December 31, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I'd also like to say that I'd like to see Mattel make the dolls a bit more affordable. In this economy, only a small percentage of ALL little girls can afford the American Girls dolls, nevermind their clothing , books and accessories.
Project Bluebeam December 31, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Dolls are not necessities. Mattel and all other toy companies are under NO obligation whatsoever to manufacture dolls with disabilities, transgender, or of any specific ethnicity. There are also under NO obligation to price their products fit YOUR income. Don't like it? Don't buy it. Better yet, get off your asses and create and market your own dolls. Americans are pathetic, lazy, entitlement-dependent dolts. Grow a pair!
suz December 31, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Oh, here we go with the "political correct" mumbo jumbo. What do you want next? A doll with a hoodie and gun?
Frank Schapitl January 01, 2014 at 08:35 AM
Well the consistently bitter and negative comments are here once again to ring in the new year. 😞Hey she's a ten year old girl who might be in a wheelchair her entire life. Give her a break and may God Bless America in 2014 🇺🇸
Jane Doe January 01, 2014 at 11:41 AM
I agree with you, Frank. These posters remind me, time and again, of what an ugly world this is .... with ugly, miserable malcontent people. If something as simple as a doll can make a disabled child's world a little brighter, then what is the big deal? Perhaps Suz and Project Bluebeam would like to trade places with her.

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