Melissa Shang has a simple request: she wants to finally see an American Girl doll on the shelves that reminds her of herself. At just 10 years old, the bright and bubbly 4th grader is kind and smart (and clearly an activist in the making.) But she is also disabled—something you rarely, if ever, see reflected in children's toys. And she has a hunch that there are a lot of other girls out there, just like her, who would like to see a "Girl of the Year" doll that looks like them, too.
Melissa has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a disorder that damages the peripheral nerves and leads to a form of muscular distrophy. As a result, she uses a wheelchair to get around. And while American Girl has certainly made lots of strides over the years—creating dolls from varying ethnic backgrounds and even religions—they have yet to make one that also gets around in a wheelchair.
But that doesn't mean they won't. Just last year, American Girl released bald dolls for girls suffering from hair loss, and even began offering accessories like hearing aids and a seeing eye 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," American Girl spokeswoman Julie Parks told ABC News at the time.
So Melissa (with some help from her big sis), decided to make a little video petition and upload it to Change.org. In it, she sits alongside one of her American Girl dolls (in matching outfits, of course) and lays out her case. Give it a watch:
Since being uploaded, the video has earned upwards of 8,000 signatures in all. But unfortunately, that wasn't enough (or perhaps, it was just a little too late) to get the toy giant to produce the American Girl doll Melissa was dreaming of. Just this morning on Good Morning America, American Girl announced that the "Girl of the Year" would be... Isabelle, the dancer:
...not exactly the "Girl of the Year" that Melissa had hoped, but that doesn't mean her cause was in vain. (Especially since her video was uploaded just last week, and these dolls have likely been planned for months.) You can still sign Melissa's petition, and ask American Girl to consider a disabled "Girl of the Year" for 2015.
Image via YouTube