Though Walt Disney animated films remain hugely popular in Missouri and, indeed, around the world, some people criticize the media giant of not being inclusive enough in its characters. For example, they point to the lack of racial diversity among its heroes, and note that many of Disney’s “princess” characters portray an unrealistic body type.
The mother of a baby girl adds another criticism that many parents of children with disabilities may share: none of the characters in any Disney movie have ever had Down syndrome.
The woman says that her daughter, who has this form of intellectual disability, loves Disney animated features, and she deserves to have a character to look up to that shares her condition. To encourage Disney to add one to a future film, she started an online petition with a goal of acquiring 67,000 signatures.
The petition praises Disney for teaching moral lessons to children. But it also says that the studio produces “almost no representation of disabled people.” This misses the opportunity to teach children with disabilities to accept disabled kids, reducing the impact of bullying on the disabled.
The petition had nearly reached its goal as of Nov. 10. Once it does, the girl’s mother and her wife plan to present the petition to Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios.
Whether Disney will include a “princess” with Down syndrome in one of its animated movies someday remains to be seen. However, it would be interesting to see what effect such a film would have on attitudes toward people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disorders.