Well, this is cool. I’m getting kind of weary of Disney princess reboots, but this, from disabled artist Alexsandro Palombo, might be one of the most worthwhile ones I’ve seen. Here’s Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and the whole beautiful-because-they’re-drawn-that-way gang—depicted as disabled.
There’s Snow White and Belle in a wheelchair, Cinderella missing part of her arm, Pocahontas on crutches and more. Palombo tells the HuffPo Uk that he was inspired to create depictions of disable Disney princesses because:
“Two years ago I had a rare form of cancer and after surgery to remove it some parts of my body are now paralysed. I am now a disabled person, and every day I have to deal with all forms of discrimination. Through this series I wanted to give visibility to this problem of strong discrimination directed to the persons with disabilities who live in our society.”
Awesome, right? And stirring, somehow, to see these classic characters depicted in a way you’d never expect. Kinda turns your notions on princesses upside down, no? Like the little girl who wants to see a disabled American Girl doll, it’s important that children see their favorite characters depicted in ways that resonate with their own experiences, whether that’s as a child of color, a physically-disabled child, or maybe even a child with a learning disability. Hell, it’s important that children see characters that are different than them, too, so they can learn that the world contains a vast diversity of people with different sizes, abilities, shapes, skin colors and more.
Disney isn’t too great at showing those different skin colors, as we know. Disney is one of the biggest media companies in the world, and continues to be the one of the largest influences on children (even despite the many other awesome and more inclusive forms of books and media that are now being produced for children). But aside from the continued discussion about Disney’s problem with people of color, I think that Palombo’s art brings up a number of other important questions about representation and discrimination.
Can we get a dyslexic Disney princess up in here? Or maybe a princess with Asperger’s Syndrome? (Although Asperger’s is commonly seen as a difference rather than a disability, as I understand it). Granted, I’m sure it will be a long long long long time until we see a Disney princess who is disabled or “different,” if we ever do.
Still, these continued re-imaginings of the characters show that people’s patience with Disney’s patented brand of white, able-bodied, thin, flawless femininity is growing thin. Maybe one day, perfect, aspirational fairy-tale characters will no longer be the norm and there will be a little less ableism in the Magic Kingdom.
VIA THE GLOSS