As a girl with a disability, I’ve had to overcome obstacles since I was born.
I’m ten years old, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a form of muscular dystrophy. When I was seven, like most of my classmates, I fell in love with American Girl dolls—historical and modern girls with stories about overcoming obstacles. I’ve read all of the books, seen all of the movies, and even visited the American Girl Place in New York City. For the past three years, I’ve asked for an American Girl doll for Christmas.
Of all the American Girl dolls, my favorites are the Girl of the Years. Every year, American Girl introduces a brand-new character with a story about finding success in the face of challenges today. Girls of the Year come from all different places, from Hawaii to New Mexico, and they help girls learn what it’s like to be someone else. Through Saige, I learned what it’s like to be an artist and horseback rider. Through McKenna, I learned what it’s like to be a gymnast. Girls of the Year have helped me understand how it feels to be someone else.
However, none of the American Girl Girls of the Year are like me. None of them have a disability.
Being a disabled girl is hard. Muscular Dystrophy prevents me from activities like running and ice-skating, and all the stuff that other girls take for granted. 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.
Please join me and my sister YingYing in asking American Girl to release a disabled Girl of the Year. Please, sign this petition to convince American Girl tell my story, and the story of disabled youth. Will you join me and see my dream come true?
Melissa & Eva Shang started this petition with a single signature, and now has 145,991 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.